Alarmed by the rapid increase in rice demand and low yields, many international experts met on Tuesday 9th November, in Hanoi, Vietnam, to find solutions to the looming rice shortages which could threaten the world's poorest, particularly in Asia.
"While there is constant pressure on world food production, as poverty is increasing and climate is changing, the need to find ways to ensure there is enough rice at affordable prices for everyone is paramount" said a statement from the International Rice Congress. Indeed, rice is the staple food of more than three billion people, about half the world population, and 90% of this commodity is produced in Asia, where 565 million people live on less than $1.25 a day.
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), co-organizer of the Congress, "The trend towards a decline in agricultural research and rural investment may eventually lead to food shortages and increase vulnerability to the famines which once hit the region". The research center warns that at a time where the Asian population continues to grow and becomes more urbanized at an unprecedented level, food insecurity in the region could worsen unless swift action is taken.
As the experts who met in Hanoi have repeated so well, it is urgent to find solutions to the programmed imbalance between a stagnant rice supply and an exploding demand, and more so because food security is a guarantee to social stability. This is what the Vietnamese Prime Minister precisely concluded by stating: "Ensuring food security is not just economic or humanitarian, but it also contributes to social stability and to national and global policy."