Rice congress to address food shortages


Farmers harvest rice at Co Do Plantation in northern Hai Duong Province. Viet Nam will host the largest congress of world rice experts in November next year. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu

VNS | 22-08-2009

HCM CITY — Viet Nam will host the largest congress of the world’s rice experts next year as the world struggles to meet the challenge of feeding more than 100 million people faced with the prospect of starvation.

Thousands of delegates from every continent will attend the congress which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute.

The 3rd International Rice Congress (IRC 2010), to be held from November 8-12 of next year in Ha Noi, will be hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and organised by IRRI and the Thailand based AsiaCongress Events Co, Ltd.

The staple food of a large proportion of the world population that is grown on large tracts of land, rice is perhaps the world’s most complex commodity apart from oil, influencing global politics, national governments, the climate and the environment, notes an emailed statement from one of the organisers.

"That simple bowl or serving of rice that billions of us across the globe consume each day is the result of one of the world’s most complex issues, involving everything from the latest science to the humble buffalo," the release quotes Dr To Phuc Tuong, senior scienist with the IRRI, as saying.

He said that the world food shortage, coupled with the economic crisis, placed enormous pressure on rice producing countries and "the entire chain from paddy to plate".

The IRC 2010 would largely focus on technology, because without new varieties and innovative ways of cultivating rice, it would not be possible to cope with the projected growth in demand for the commodity.

"Arguably the strongest defence against future shortages is for rice producers to enhance their technological platforms and fully exploit the very compelling advances in the spheres of biology, genetics and IT. These will be fully addressed during IRC 2010," Tuong said.

IRC 2010 will strive to find sustainable solutions to the developing world food crisis, he added.

"IRRI has calculated the world will need to produce an additional 50 million tonnes of rice by 2015 to cope with surging demand," said Tuong.

The congress will look at one of the key trends in world rice and other food production, including the "off-shoring" of farm production by several influential countries, including China, South Korea and Japan, he said.

These programmes involve the contracting of farmland as far away as Africa and South America. With this comes "enormous political and socio-economic challenges," Tuong noted.

Shared knowledge and the bridging of political divides will be the ultimate weapons against the looming shortages, he added

In parallel with the scientific conference, a comprehensive exhibition that will showcase the latest technologies, genetic and biological advances and equipment dedicated to the production of rice.

Multinational companies including equipment manufacturers, seed producers, financial institutions and non-governmental agencies will be represented at the exhibition.
Original source: Viet Nam News

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