ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
The future of Asian rice
By David Swartzentruber
What does it take to attain global food security? This is a question for which rice provides part, if not most, of the answer. Rice—a staple food for the world’s poor—is grown on more than 155 million hectares and accounts for one-fifth of the global calorie supply. In the past decade, changes such as rapid economic growth, especially in parts of Asia, rising wage rates, increasing diversification of diets, global climate change, and a greater integration of the food economy with other sectors of the global economy, including both energy and financial markets, have converged to shape the way rice is produced today and will be produced in the future.
Faced with more challenges in the years ahead, the world now needs a new vision for future rice farming to position investments in rice research, technology delivery, and designs for policy reforms strategically. Food security has risen in prominence on global leaders’ agenda as the food crisis of 2008 rocked not just the market but also social stability, and, recently, there has been a rising concern that history will repeat itself.
Challenges to attaining sustainable food security
As the world’s resources become more limited, farmers must be able to do more with less, with fewer inputs in all aspects of rice farming and along the value chain. This means cutting costs, which is aided by greater efficiency in water, fertilizer, and pesticide use.
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