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Special supplement for ADB World Food Day Celebration, 15-16 October 2012

Selected Features on Food Security and Quality

working together!
Planthoppers: new threats to the sustainability of intensive rice production systems in Asia
Edited by K.L. Heong and B. Hardy Published by International Rice Research Institute ice is the staple food for around half the world’s people and about three-quarters of a billion of the world’s poor depend on rice. Each year, 50 million rice consumers are added to the world population, which means that rice production will need to increase markedly. But rice production faces many threats. Rice planthoppers, brown and whitebacked planthoppers, and the small brown planthopper, are pests that are normally kept in check by naturally occurring biological control services in the rice ecosystem. In large populations, planthoppers can completely destroy crops, an effect called “hopper burn.” In addition, planthoppers are known vectors of virus diseases: grassy stunt, ragged stunt, rice dwarf, rice black streak dwarf, and, more recently, southern rice black streak. Plants infected by these viruses become stunted and have zero yield. We hope that the information in this book will help in shifting paradigms in planthopper management and chart new sustainable approaches that will reduce the vulnerability of farmers’ rice fields to hopper burn, virus infections, and economic losses. For more up-todate information on rice planthoppers, visit http://ricehoppers.net/.

Integrated Crop and Resource Management in the Rice-Wheat System of South Asia
Edited by J.K. Ladha, Yadvinder-Singh, O. Erenstein, and B. Hardy. his book covers the history of the Rice-Wheat Consortium and explains the importance of resource-conserving technologies developed for this system, such as laser land leveling, zero-till and reduced-till drill-seeded wheat, direct seeding of rice, and a leaf color chart for nitrogen management. Through integrated crop and resource management, farmers can combine their practices with these new technologies. This 395-page book presents the outputs of the Asian Development Bank project titled “Enhancing Farmers’ Income and Livelihood through Integrated Crop and Resource Management in the Rice-Wheat System in South Asia.” The goal is to produce more food at less cost (by improving yield per unit area) and improve water productivity. This is necessary because there will be an additional 20 million people per year in this area to feed. This book helps explain how this can be done.

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RICE FACTS

Rice and the global financial crisis
by Samarendu Mohanty Head, IRRI Social Sciences Division

What are the short- and long-term impacts on rice production and food security?

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n the October–December from area expansion rather than World milled rice production 2008 issue of Rice Today, I yield growth (see figures). A Million tons wrote an article (Rice crisis: slowdown in rice yield growth has 440 the aftermath, pages 40-41) been occurring since the early highlighting the 2008-09 supply 1990s. The neglect of agricultural 420 and demand situation and the research and infrastructure 400 long-term challenges to meeting development since the early 1980s future demand growth. Soon after has started to bite. The recent 380 that article went to press, the crisis turned the world’s attention calamitous global financial crisis back to agriculture, but the 360 and attendant fall in commodity credit crunch is likely to further 00/01 01/02 02/03 03/04 04/05 05/06 06/07 07/08 08/09 prices cast a dark shadow over tighten funding for infrastructure Years the agricultural situation, improvements and research despite the drop in crop prices. and development activities. Rice area and yield Since reaching their peak earlier Making matters worse, this year, wheat and rice prices the economic slowdown may Million hectares Tons per hectare have fallen steeply. The price for increase the demand for rice in 160 3.0 100% grade B Thai rice fell to $575 developing countries as falling 155 2.5 per ton in late October 2008 from income forces poor people to Yield a whopping $1,080 per ton in April switch back to less expensive 150 2.0 2008, a result of record production staples. Consumption projections Area and economic slowdown. It is may therefore rise above earlier 145 1.5 important to remember, however, estimates of around 90 million 140 1.0 that current rice export prices tons per year of additional 00/01 01/02 02/03 03/04 04/05 05/06 06/07 07/08 08/09 remain around double those of rough (unmilled) rice by 2020. Years mid-2007. Following crude oil and agricultural commodities, Time to act fertilizer prices, particularly for countries is likely in the near term. The supply and demand situation urea and ammonia, also plummeted Production uncertainty due to simply does not add up for rice. toward the end of 2008 after reaching tight credit and declining rice prices Current rice area is at a historic record highs in September. combined with strong demand high and it is foolish to assume growth points to another rise in that additional area can keep Short-term impact rice prices in the coming months. coming to meet future demand. The meltdown of commodity prices Price volatility will remain high. If the yield growth rate does not may have caught off-guard many improve, we can expect rice prices farmers who in late 2008 harvested Long-term effects to continue to rise, and at a faster a lower-priced crop produced with The recent crisis in the rice pace than that seen since prices high-priced inputs (such as seeds and market helped expose recent started moving up in 2000. fertilizer). Burned once, these farmers fundamental imbalances in supply The solution lies in revitalizing will likely play safe and reduce input and demand. In five of the last rice yield growth through higher use for their 2009 crops. The credit seven years, rice consumption has investment in research and crunch will also make it difficult for exceeded production, resulting infrastructure development. farmers around the world to secure in frequent dipping into buffer The International Rice Research credit for purchasing inputs. Signs stocks to cover the shortfall. The Institute’s nine-point plan for of this trend have already emerged. recent rise and fall in rice prices short- and long-term interventions Already, the Philippines has reaffirms the high degree of price outlines the sort of urgent action that lowered its 2009 rice production volatility arising out of historic donors, international organizations, estimate by almost 4% because of low levels of global rice stocks. and national governments need to take to improve yield now and in lower input use as farmers struggle to The world has produced a record the future (see http://solutions.irri. secure credit to buy inputs. Similar rice crop in each of the last 4 years org/images/the_rice_crisis.pdf). news from other rice-producing with most of the increase coming
Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2009

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grain of truth

Food security

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by Christian Witt

ood security is back on the global agenda. With the recent food crisis, public attention has returned to issues of availability and affordability, particularly for the urban and rural poor. Responses to the accelerating changes in food stocks and prices in recent months ranged from interventions at the policy level to calls for longer term strategies, including greater investment in agricultural research to safeguard food security in the future. Although consumer rice prices have dropped somewhat since the peaks of mid-2008, they remain higher than those of 2 years ago and the crisis is by no means over. Yield forecasts for the immediate future are promising, but rice supply remains tight and is likely to remain so in the coming years. Meanwhile, at the farm level, growers find themselves facing higher production costs (especially for fertilizer and fuel) and higher but more volatile farm-gate prices for their produce. This poses problems to rice farmers with typically low cash flows. As fertilizer prices increase, cutting costs by reducing the use of one or more fertilizer nutrients might appeal to farmers and policymakers—but it’s a risky strategy. Crop yield is directly related to the amount of nutrients taken up by a crop, and fertilizers supply a significant portion of the nutrients required to achieve high and profitable yield. Food security cannot be achieved without the effective use of fertilizer nutrients in combination with other nutrient sources such as residues and manures available on-farm. At some point, less fertilizer means lower yield unless the innovative, yield-building nutrient management strategies developed over the past 10 years become common practice. The time is now for the public and
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Anyone with access to the new tools can develop strategies for yield improvement

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fertilizer
to meet future fertilizer demand. It currently appears that the cost for fertilizer and other inputs will remain relatively high in most farming environments. Farmers will thus have to optimize their production systems considering the global market prices of inputs and particularly fertilizer. What gives me hope for the near future is that there is still room for yield improvement at the farm level in Asia’s key rice-producing areas. What gives me even more hope is that, in the last 10 years, we have transformed complex science into robust scientific principles. These have formed the basis for a new generation of user-friendly tools and associated communication strategies in nutrient management. Examples include the leaf color chart, which helps farmers optimize their nitrogen application, and the new country-specific Nutrient Manager Software recently developed by IRRI and its partners in Asia. The process of developing locally adapted fertilizer strategies combined with locally available nutrient sources has been demystified. One does not need a laboratory to do this. One does not even need an expert. Today, anyone with access to the new tools can develop individual, site-specific strategies for yield improvement and effective input use, in real time and on the spot. This information is increasingly being made available to farmers with promising examples of uptake by the public sector, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. More and more, these groups must share their experiences and intensify their learning alliances if farmers are to reap the full benefits of the knowledge we now have. Dr. Witt is director of the Southeast Asia Program of the International Plant Nutrition Institute.

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private sector to step up and make this knowledge available to farmers. But won’t fertilizer prices plummet soon to previous levels? Current fertilizer prices are the result of an until-recently very tight global fertilizer market that follows the basic principles of supply and demand. The demand for agricultural products— and thus fertilizer—has been increasing for years, driven by population growth and increasingly diversified diets as income in developing countries has grown. This development has been further accelerated by the recent investment boost in the biofuel sector. The International Rice Research Institute forecast a significant increase in future rice demand back in the early 1990s, at a time when food stocks were high and rice prices low. As food stocks melted away with accelerating demand, investment in agricultural research slowly dwindled. And, just as one cannot switch research on and off within a year, it takes massive capital and several years to increase fertilizer production capacity. As a result, fertilizer capacity growth has not kept pace with demand. With production capacity currently at or near record levels, the International Fertilizer Industry Association warned in mid 2008 that fertilizer markets will remain tight for at least 3 years. Fertilizer supply has eased in recent months as many farmers are reluctant to invest in their crops given the global economic recession and volatile prices for commodities and fertilizer. As economies recover, however, significant investment in infrastructure and opening of new plants and mines will be required
Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2009

RICE FACTS

What does it mean for future food security?
by Samarendu Mohanty Head, IRRI Social Sciences Division

Global rice trade:

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ice is different from other major field crops such as wheat, maize, and soybeans because of its high geographical concentration in production and consumption (around 90% in Asia), literally making it an Asian crop. Historically, a very small proportion, around 5–7%, of total rice production has been traded compared with 20% for wheat, 13% for maize, and 30% for soybeans. More importantly, four of the top five exporters, with a 70% share of total global rice trade, are from Asia, for which domestic food security comes first and trade is a distant second (Fig. 1). For these rice-producing countries, trade is an afterthought when domestic need and an adequate buffer stock are secured. However, on the import side, the top five rice importdependent countries accounted for only 29% of the total trade in 2007-08 (Fig. 2). Even the top ten importers accounted for only 45% of the total trade in the same year. After almost two and a half decades (the 1960s to late 1980s) of being stagnant, rice trade zoomed upward in the wake of trade liberalization by many countries in the late 1980s and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994.

2007-08 import share Data source: USDA

Fig. 2. Countries dependent on rice imports.

As part of the GATT market access commitments, countries partially opened up rice trade, which caused the volume to rise more than 50% in the past decade. Rising trade flows in the 1990s, characterized by a growing dependability between exporters and importers, contributed to the high degree of price stability during this period.

Political repercussions of the rice crisis

2007-08 export share Data source: USDA

Fig. 1. Dominance of Asian rice producers in the global market.

The recent crisis that triggered riots and protests in different parts of the developing world has put a big question mark on the future of global rice trade. The market was primed for such a crisis with the drawing down of stocks in the last few years to fill the supplydemand imbalance arising from the slowdown in yield growth, drought, and pest problems. However, the situation did not warrant the tripling of rice prices in the span of six months between November 2007 and May 2008. Rising wheat prices due to the expansion of biofuel crops put pressure on rice, which led to trade restrictions in many rice-producing countries and unprecedented rises in prices. Measures taken by many exporting countries to ensure the
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2009

availability of rice in the domestic market have affected many importing countries that rely on rice in the world market. In many rice-consuming countries, rice self-sufficiency has become a sensitive political issue, prompting policymakers to implement programs to reduce dependence on the global market. Since rice is a staple food for about half of the world, it is understandable on the part of rice-consuming countries to protect domestic supply in uncertain times either by imposing trade restrictions or by expanding domestic production. These actions of both the exporting and importing countries are likely to reverse the recent upward trend in rice trade. The United States Department of Agriculture’s rice outlook report now projects 2009 global rice trade to be 8% below the record level witnessed in 2007. All this points to lower trade and the risk of making shortages and high prices more frequent. It may sound odd to argue in favor of free trade in the face of the ongoing global financial crisis, but, for rice, which is highly protected and regulated, further protectionism can be severely damaging for the food security of millions of poor people.

What needs to be done?

The crisis has renewed the call for a second Green Revolution to revamp the sagging yield growth to feed the growing global population. In 2008, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) identified investment in agricultural infrastructure and rice research and extension as one of the keys to improving rice production. All members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have endorsed this position.
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Several constraints, including land and 95% of total exports throughout and water scarcity, environmental the 1960s and 1970s. The ban on degradation, and high input prices, soybean exports imposed by the U.S. will make achieving higher rice yields in the early 1970s changed the entire challenging. But, we have proven our landscape of soybean production and success in delivering research-driven trade when other countries started solutions to farmers that increase yield looking for alternative suppliers of and, with further investment, we can soybeans. Although the soybean crisis continue to do this. However, none ended in a few months, the confidence of this is possible without supportive in the U.S. as a reliable supplier was polices and institutions in place. gone. Two South American neighbors, Apart from revamping the yield Argentina and Brazil, emerged from growth, the conduct of the world rice this crisis to become formidable market, which played an important competitors for the U.S. in the world role in magnifying the intensity of soybean market. Currently, these two the recent crisis, needs to be reined countries account for around half of in if future crises are to be averted. the global soybean trade (Fig. 3). The The rice crisis starkly reminded us emergence of multiple dependable that the current structure, in which suppliers also convinced many the majority of exporters are residual countries, including China, Japan, the suppliers, does not bode well for the European Union countries, Taiwan, future of the global rice market. The South Korea, and others, to liberalize future stability of the rice market their oilseed sector and depend on clearly hinges on re-establishing the imports. This is clearly evident for relationships between exporters and China, with 38 million tons of imports importers. It may be worthwhile to in 2007-08, accounting for 76% of the hold a summit of major riceexporting and -importing countries to build those relationships, and at the same time collaboratively develop some basic rules in rice trading. Another option, which could be expensive but worth considering, is to rebuild buffer stocks in the major rice-producing countries, particularly in China and India, to have a calming effect on the market. Aside from making Data source: USDA investments and changes to Fig. 3. Transformation of the global soybean market. increase rice yield within Asia, another potential long-term solution to this problem lies in developing rice exporters outside Asia where rice can be produced primarily for export. The transformation of the global soybean market three decades ago may give a clue as to what is needed in the rice market. In the soybean market, the United States used to be the big guy on the Data source: USDA block, accounting for around Fig. 4. Chinese dependence on foreign soybeans. 80% of world production
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Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2009

total domestic consumption (Fig. 4). It is true that the current situation, in terms of land and water availability, is quite different from what it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Nobody expects countries to give up rice production and become dependent on the international market even if new suppliers emerge. But, more surplus rice produced by new suppliers could help stabilize the market and reassure the importing countries. Within Asia, Myanmar and Cambodia potentially seem to have surplus rice production. Rice production in these countries can be expanded through intensification and by bringing additional fallow land into production. However, this is possible only under stable political and economic conditions. Outside Asia, the potential to increase rice production exists primarily in South America and Africa. Currently, South America is more or less self-sufficient in rice and has the land mass to expand rice production if the underlying economics make sense. Africa, on the other hand, probably has more potential than even South America because of its underused land and water resources. But, Africa requires a stable political environment and the necessary investment for infrastructure and market development to boost its rice production. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that the rice supply needs to increase to improve future food security. Rice yields within existing ricegrowing regions in Asia can be increased if technologydriven solutions are delivered to growers through effective extension mechanisms, and if investments are made. Better agricultural infrastructure and policies must support this to improve the reliability of supply. Finally, new international suppliers of rice could also play an important role in providing new sources of rice to importers.

grain of truth

can less favorable areas obtain food security?
by Gelia T. Castillo
rainfed environments in monsoon South and Southeast Asia, through more sustainable and resilient ricebased production systems. Using an ecosystems paradigm, the research sites under the CURE project include drought-prone plateau uplands, drought-prone lowlands, saltaffected lowlands, sloping rotational upland systems, the submergenceprone environment, and the intensive upland systems with long growing seasons. The project uses a common approach to examine eight generic themes (germplasm improvement, rice establishment and harvest, less labor, and better weed control. With shorter-duration varieties and timesaving crop establishment, it also became possible to grow nonrice crops for cash and employment. Anthropologist Stephen Zolvinski observed some of the technologies that resulted from the process. The submergence-tolerance gene known as SUB1A was transferred to Swarna, a popular variety in South Asia (see Scuba rice, stemming the tide in flood-prone South Asia on pages 2631). The development of this variety is an example of how modern scientific tools are combined with locally popular varieties to produce improved varieties that are stress tolerant and acceptable to farmers. The SUB1A gene can now be found in Samba-MahsuriSub1, IR64-Sub1, and Swarna-Sub1. More importantly, these technologies have helped reduce the number of farmers who migrate to nonfarm jobs during the hunger months. “If we have enough rice to eat, why would we leave the village?” the farmers said. In summary, to achieve the goal of rice security, CURE’s general strategy involves early-duration and higher-yielding varieties; improved labor-saving practices; and earlier crop establishment and harvest, which allow a nonrice crop to be sown on time and intensify system productivity, enhance food security, and generate income. Using science in combination with local practices to meet the challenges of diverse rice environments through a common approach, CURE found the common denominators and made rice security in less favorable areas a realizable goal. Dr. Gelia T. Castillo is a national scientist of the Philippines and IRRI consultant.
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ice is life. So, when the global rice crisis hit in 2008, it threatened many lives. The year became well remembered for the soaring prices, the long lines in the market, the panic, the blame game, and the social unrest in different countries. A sense of alarm grew when rice, known to be the most “affordable” food for the poor, suddenly became “unaffordable.” It reminded the world of rice’s crucial role in human existence. It also revived interest in agriculture. Researchers often focus on farming on irrigated, favorable, and accessible farms. But we may fail to realize that many farmers contend with unfavorable areas just so their families can have enough rice to eat and survive. These socalled unfavorable areas are rainfed parcels; uplands; drought-prone, flooded, and submerged farms; farms with saline soils; etc. For a long time, rice science did not favor investing in unfavorable areas as they were too diverse, complicated, and difficult. Compared with irrigated farms, these topographically, ecologically, and climatically challenged areas provided meager harvests. When the international development community adopted poverty as its flagship challenge, the opportunity came to establish the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) in 2002. Fostering cooperation between the national agricultural research and extension systems and the International Rice Research Institute, this initiative involves 10 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. As CURE focuses its research on the development of less favorable areas, the goal is to provide more food security for the poor families in the marginal and diverse

Using science in combination with local practices to meet the challenges of diverse rice environments, CURE made rice security in less favorable areas a realizable goal.
varietal diversity, seeds and seedling management, crop establishment, cropping system enhancement, upscaling activities, patterns of labor use, and food security) across the different sites, but the resulting technologies are specific to each ecosystem. Among these technologies, the primacy of seeds is the most recurrent. For the Filipino farmers in the Arakan Valley, for example, rice seed security is food security. When they run out of food, the people start to eat their seeds. Hence, they set up a community seed bank. Through participatory varietal selection, farmers chose seeds among different varieties that performed well in the field compared with the traditional ones. Along with this, CURE introduced the concept of clean and healthy seeds, lower seeding rates, and quality seedlings. Direct-seeding technologies resulted in earlier crop
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2009

How much water does rice use?
by Bas Bouman

Rice Today examines this often-asked (and often poorly answered) question

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any people ask the global water cycle and will eventually evapotranspiration, outflows of question, “How much return to the earth as rain or snow. water from a field occur through water does it take to The rice crop comprises seepage and percolation: sideward produce 1 kg of rice?” the plants and underlying soil. and downward water flows through The answer to this question lies in Besides transpiration from the the soil and bunds out of the field. the definition of “water use” and of plants, water leaves the crop For an individual farmer, these are “rice.” We can identify three types of from the soil underneath through real losses as well, and she considers water “use”—through transpiration, evaporation. Like transpiration, the total combined outflows by evaporation, and a combination evaporated water is “lost” and evapotranspiration, seepage, and of seepage and percolation—at, cannot be used again by that same percolation as water use by her rice respectively, three scales of rice— crop in the same growth cycle. This field (see figure). The farmer needs the plant, the crop, and the field. combined water use by a rice crop to ensure sufficient irrigation (to The rice plant “uses” water is called “evapotranspiration.” complement rainwater if rainfall through the process of transpiration, is insufficient) to match all these In rice fields, water is often which cools the plant and drives ponded to ensure there is plenty outflows. At a larger spatial scale, the upward sap flow—which carries however, seepage and percolation for the crop to take up. Besides essential nutrients—from I R T roots to leaves. This is a “real” E water use, since once the plant has taken up water O and released it to the atmosphere O through Bund transpiration, S Floodwater that amount S of water is no Puddled longer available soil Plow layer for reuse by that C P Subsurface soil same plant in Groundwater the same growth cycle. Transpired WATER bAlAnCE of a puddled rice field: C = capillary rise; E = evaporation; I = irrigation; O = over-bund flow; P = percolation; R = rainfall; S = seepage; T = transpiration. water enters the
Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2009

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Jose Raymond Panaligan

flows from one field enter the groundwater or creeks and drains, from where other farmers may reuse the water to irrigate other fields. This is in contrast to the water losses by evapotranspiration, which cannot be recaptured.

Table 3. Total global water use (cubic kilometers of water per year). source Chapagain and Hoekstra, 20044 7,450 6,390 716 344 Falkenmark and Rockström, 20043 8,160 7,200 780 180

Total Food industry domestic

Rice plant water use (by transpiration)

Pot experiments and greenhouse studies carried out at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have shown that rice plants growing under a range of water applications transpired 500–1,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of rough (unmilled) rice.1 This is at the high end of comparable cereals such as wheat and barley.

Rice crop water use (by evapotranspiration)

The estimated water use by evapotranspiration of all rice fields in the world is some 859 cubic kilometers per year.2 With a global rough rice production of around 600 million tons, it takes an average of 1,432 liters of evapotranspired water to produce 1 kg of rough rice. This is roughly the same as the world-average water use of wheat, but higher than that of maize and barley (see Table 1). The variability in water use

by evapotranspiration by rice crops is large. Table 2 summarizes experimental data from wellmanaged lowland field experiments with rice. By comparison with total global water use, Table 3 puts the world rice water use by evapotranspiration into perspective. Producing the world’s rice accounts for 12–13% of the amount of evapotranspired water used to produce all of the world’s food (food crops and grass and fodder for livestock).

On average, about 2,500 liters of water need to be supplied (by rainfall and/or irrigation) to a rice field to produce 1 kg of rough rice. These 2,500 liters account for all the outflows of evapotranspiration, seepage, and percolation. This average number is derived from a large number of Table 1. World-average water use by evapotranspiration of major experimental data at nonrice grain crops (liters of water per kg of grain). the individual field level across Asia. Source Wheat Maize Barley Variability is large, 3 Falkenmark and Rockström, 2004 1,480 1,150 1,000 ranging from around 4 Chapagain and Hoekstra, 2004 1,300 900 – 800 liters to more than 5,000 liters. This Table 2. Liters of evapotranspired water needed to produce 1 kg of variability is caused rough rice. by crop management source minimum medium maximum (such as variety Zwart and Bastiaansen, 20045 625 909 1,667 planted, fertilization

Rice field water use (to account for evapotranspiration plus seepage and percolation)

regime used, and pest and disease controls adopted), weather, and soil properties. At the field level, water inputs to rice fields are 2–3 times those of other major cereals. Although rice’s water productivity in terms of evapotranspiration is similar to that of comparable cereals such as wheat, rice requires more water at the field level than other grain crops because of high outflows—in the forms of seepage and percolation—from the field. However, because these outflows can often be captured and reused downstream, rice’s water-use efficiency at the level of irrigation systems (which comprise many fields) may be higher than that at the field level. Nevertheless, around onequarter to one-third of the world’s developed freshwater resources are used to irrigate rice (which, it must be remembered, is the staple food for almost half the world’s population). Rice production must be viewed in the light of the emerging water crisis, as climate-change-induced shifts in rainfall patterns combine with the diversion of irrigation water for urban and industrial uses. As agricultural water scarcity increases, there is a growing need for watersaving technologies such as aerobic rice (varieties that grow well in unflooded fields; see High and dry on pages 28-33 of Rice Today Vol. 6, No. 4) and more efficient irrigation regimes such as alternate wetting and drying (see The big squeeze on pages 26-31 of Rice Today Vol. 7, No. 2).

Dr. Bouman is a senior water scientist and head of the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division at IRRI.

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Haefele SM, Siopongco JDLC, Boling AA, Bouman BAM, Tuong TP. 2008. Transpiration efficiency of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Field Crops Research. (In press.) Mom R. 2007. A high spatial resolution analysis of the water footprint of global rice consumption. Master thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands. Falkenmark M, Rockström J. 2004. Balancing water for humans and nature: the new approach in ecohydrology. Earthscan, London, UK. 247 p. Chapagain AK, Hoekstra AY. 2004. Water footprint of nations. Value of water research report series No. 16. Delft (Netherlands): UNESCO-IHE. 76 p Zwart SJ, Bastiaansen WGM. 2004. Review of measured crop water productivity values for irrigated wheat, rice, cotton and maize. Agric. Water Management 69:115-133. Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2009

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Every dr p counts

by Bas Bouman and Mia Aureus

Water scarcity is crippling the world’s food supply balance. So, IRRI has developed watersaving technologies to help farmers cope with the problem and, more importantly, to sustain global rice production

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ater makes up 70% of our planet. But in spite of this vast availability, our fresh water reserve is finite. Over the years, improper use has led many to waste this precious natural resource, unaware of its dire crippling effects on the world’s food supply balance, particularly for rice—the staple food of about 3 billion people around the world. Like all other plants, rice needs water to survive. However, unlike most plants, it needs twice as much water to produce good yields. For 1 kg of rough rice, for example, an average of 2,500 liters of water needs to be supplied by rainfall and/or irrigation (see How much water does rice use? on pages 28-29 of Rice Today Vol. 8, No. 1). About 1,400 liters are used up in evaporation and transpiration, while the remaining 1,100 liters are lost by seepage and percolation. A farmer, then, constantly needs to ensure that sufficient irrigation water is provided (to complement rainfall if that is insufficient) to match all these outflows. Note that transpiration (the process by which the rice plant absorbs water, takes it up to bring essential nutrients from roots to leaves, then releases it to the atmosphere) is the only productive water use, as it helps the plant stay alive and healthy.

Bas Bouman (3)

An IRRIgATIOn canal in northern China dries up because of water scarcity.

Growing water scarcity

irrigation water and need to be managed in the most water-efficient way. The causes for increasing water scarcity are diverse and locationspecific. They include falling groundwater tables, chemical pollution, malfunctioning of irrigation systems, and increased competition from other sectors such as urban and industrial users. In the face of this troubling reality, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed several water-saving technologies to help farmers cope better with water scarcity in their paddy fields. Farmers primarily need to reduce the nonproductive outflows (percolation, seepage, and evaporation), while maintaining transpiration flows. This can be done during land preparation, crop establishment, and the actual crop growth period.

Fresh water for agriculture around the world, however, is becoming increasingly scarce, thereby threatening rice productivity and, consequently, the world’s food supply. In the next 25 years, some 15–20 million hectares of irrigated rice are projected to suffer some degree of water scarcity, particularly the wet-season irrigated rice regions of China, India, and Pakistan. Dry-season irrigated rice areas everywhere in Asia rely on expensive
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2009

Get the basics right

In preparing the land—the foundation of the whole cropping season—it is crucial for farmers to “get the basics right.” To establish good water management early on, they need to properly build field channels, level the land, prepare solid bunds, and effectively implement tillage operations (puddling). In most irrigation systems in Asia, water flows from one field into another and there are no field

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channels to convey irrigation water to, and drainage water from, individual fields. So, farmers usually have a hard time controlling the flow of water in and out of the fields. Either the farm loses much of its water to other farms or it gets too flooded as water from other farms pours in. Water that continuously flows through the rice fields may also remove valuable nutrients. Constructing separate channels to convey water to and from each field will help improve individual control of water. This is the recommended practice in any type of irrigation system. Another prerequisite for good water management is a well-leveled field. Logically, when fields are not even, water cannot be equally distributed. Some parts may suffer from water stagnation, while other sections may become dry. This results in uneven crop emergence, uneven early growth, uneven fertilizer distribution, and weed problems. Most farmers puddle their fields to prepare the land for transplanting of seedlings. Puddling is the repeated harrowing of the soil under flooded conditions and it results in a muddy layer 15–20 cm thick. Before puddling takes place, farmers need to soak the land at the end of the previous fallow period. Sometimes, large and deep cracks are present in the soil and a lot of water is lost at soaking by water flowing down these cracks. A shallow tillage to fill the cracks before soaking can greatly reduce this water loss. Puddling creates a so-called plow layer of some 5-cm thickness just below the muddy layer. This plow layer is very compact and it prevents water from percolating downward, where the roots of the rice plants cannot reach it anymore. Thorough puddling after soaking the field results in a more compacted soil. Puddling is especially effective in clay soils that form cracks during the fallow period. Good bunds or paddy dikes also help limit water losses by seepage and underbund flows. Bunds should be well compacted. Any rat holes should be plastered with mud at the beginning of the crop season.

Saving water: alternate wetting and drying
Water scarcity Worldwide, water for agriculture is becoming increasingly scarce. By 2025, 15 to 20 million hectares of irrigated rice may suffer some degree of water scarcity. Interventions to respond to water scarcity are called “water savings” and imply a reduced use of irrigation water. What is AWD? Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) is a watersaving technology that lowland (paddy) rice farmers can apply to reduce their water use in irrigated fields. In AWD, irrigation water is applied to flood the field after a certain number of days have passed following the disappearance of ponded water. Hence, the field is alternately flooded and not flooded. The number of days of nonflooded soil in AWD in between irrigations can vary from 1 day to more than 10 days.
edna Reyes (2)

A farmer can start AWD a few days after transplanting (or with a 10-cm-tall crop in direct seeding). If there are too many weeds, AWD can be postponed for 2–3 weeks, until the ponded water suppresses weed growth. Local fertilizer recommendations for flooded rice can be used. Apply nitrogen fertilizer preferably on the dry soil just before irrigation. Safe AWD The threshold of 15 cm is called Safe AWD as this will not reduce yields. In Safe AWD, water savings are on the order of 15–30%. Once farmers feel confident that Safe AWD will not reduce their yields, they can try to drop the threshold level for irrigation to 20 cm, 25 cm, 30 cm, or even lower. This will help save more water, although production may be slightly affected. This minor setback may be acceptable when the price of water is high or when water is very scarce.

A SAmPlE field water tube made from polyvinyl chloride. note the holes on all sides.

How to implement AWD? A practical way to The field water tube implement AWD is This tube can be made to monitor the depth of a 40-cm-long plastic of ponded water in a pipe or bamboo, with ThE SOIl inside the tube is removed field using a field water a diameter of 15 cm or after sticking it into the ground. tube. After irrigation, more, to allow farmers the depth of ponded to see and monitor the water will gradually decrease. When water table. Put holes on all sides of ponded water drops to 15 cm below the the tube. Stick the tube into the soil, soil surface, irrigation should be applied but leave 15 cm above the soil surface. to re-flood the field up to 5 cm. From a Remove the soil inside the tube so that week before until a week after flowering, the bottom will be visible. Make sure ponded water should always be kept at that the water table inside the tube is 5-cm depth. After flowering and during the same as that on the outside. The grain filling and ripening, the water level tube can be placed in a flat part of the can be allowed to drop again to 15 cm field close to a bund so that it is easy to below the surface before re-irrigation. monitor the depth of ponded water.
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2009

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Farmers need to also drained, nonpuddled, FARmERS PuDDlE their fields to prepare the land check for, and repair, and nonflooded soils. for transplanting seedlings. new rat holes, cracks, and With good management, pores dug by earthworms aerobic rice can produce throughout the growing up to 4–6 tons per hectare season. Plastic sheets can while using less than be used to fix permeable half the water required sections of the bunds. in flooded paddy rice. During the crop growth period, farmers are best Every drop counts advised to keep their Today’s problem of water ponded water at a 5-cm scarcity reminds everyone depth to minimize the loss of water’s finite nature. of water by seepage and IRRI continues to further percolation. This is also the develop and refine wateradvised level in another saving technologies to help water-saving technology farmers cope. As water called alternate wetting and scarcity increases and drying (AWD) (see The big climate change aggravates squeeze on pages 26-31 of the problem, IRRI is also Rice Today Vol. 7, No. 2). stepping up its efforts AWD, also known as in disseminating these controlled irrigation, does technologies to farmers. not require rice fields to Outreach efforts include an be continuously flooded. array of training activities Farmers flood the fields up and the production of to 5 cm for a few information days, and then materials such as FARmERS muST make sure that the bunds are well compacted let them dry to leaflets, brochures, to limit water loss. posters, manuals, a certain extent, and eventually before re-flooding e-learning courses them. This cycle to reach out to goes on throughout as many people the season, but as possible. New with a period of partnerships continuous flooding are being forged during flowering among scientists, to prevent sterility extension agencies, from occurring. irrigation system In the practice of managers, and safe AWD, farmers farmers to jointly use a field tube tackle the problem to monitor the of water scarcity underground water and implement level in the field: solutions. To help when the ponded the fate of waterwater has dropped scarce farmers and to 15–20 cm below to ensure global the surface of the food security, every soil, it is time to even intermittently flood the field drop of water counts. flood the field again. It was found that this technology reduced the amount of such as in AWD, the system of aerobic rice may be useful (see water required by a quarter and, more High and dry on pages 28-33 of importantly, it did not reduce yields. Rice Today Vol. 7, No. 2). Aerobic Dr. Bouman is a senior water Aerobic rice rice is a production system in scientist and head of the Crop and When water is really very scarce, which especially developed “aerobic Environmental Sciences Division at and there is not enough water to rice” varieties are grown in wellIRRI.
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Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2009

beneath the hulls
by Mia Aureus

experts at the Postharvest rice conference and exhibition identify key solutions to increase yield

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t a time when the world food supply continues to be outpaced by a growing population and consumption, boosting grain production has emerged as a top priority among governments. The first Postharvest Rice Conference and Exhibition held last 15 to 17 July in Bangkok, Thailand, was thus very timely in highlighting the importance of postharvest activities in the rice production chain and in achieving food security. Jointly organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and AsiaCongress Events Co., Ltd., the conference brought together leading researchers and experts in postharvest. It also featured service providers and equipment suppliers (such as GrainPro, Buhler, Satake, FrigorTec, etc.) that are leading companies in postharvest technological innovations. Countries did not take real notice of agriculture’s importance until the food crisis of 2008. Since then, leaders have put more effort and investments into farming to increase yield, particularly that of rice, the staple food of around half of the world’s population. Now, the world produces rice at a 1% annual growth rate. However, Dr. Samarendu Mohanty, head of IRRI’s Social Sciences Division, revealed that yield growth must step up to 1.2–1.5% a year if the world intends to keep up with increasing demand. What many fail to consider, though, is that improving yield growth has never really just been about planting the cereal and harvesting it. The postharvest process is just as crucial, as how the grains are handled at this stage makes a lot of difference in rice’s actual availability for consumption.

lost grains

According to Martin Gummert, IRRI postharvest specialist, 15–20% of rice grains are lost during postharvest. These losses are often caused by delays

in the postharvest chain resulting from labor shortage, unsuitable traditional sun-drying practices, pests, moisture absorption in traditional open-storage systems, as well as from outdated and poorly maintained rice mills that yield as low as 60%, and drastically reduced head rice (see Working together to save grains on pages 20-21 of Rice Today Vol. 8, No. 3). Engr. Carlito Balingbing, an assistant scientist at IRRI, even noted that poor postharvest management operations expose grains to unfavorable environmental conditions that could cause fungal contamination such as mycotoxins, and further losses. Although research has produced many new postharvest technology concepts, adoption and commercialization have been slow for many reasons. Among them are technologies not matched to users’ needs or targeting the wrong users; limited understanding of quality and losses, and how these are affected by postharvest management; lack of market incentives for better quality rice; and limitations in available financing schemes. A new postharvest value chain approach including all postharvest stakeholders promoting improved postharvest management could speed up the modernization of the sector. Should improved postharvest technologies be adopted by farmers, Engr. Gummert advised that this equipment must be what farmers really need (not what intermediaries perceive that farmers need) and must be user-friendly enough for farmers to easily adapt to it and integrate it into their current rice production practices. Funding is also needed to help raise both knowledge and technology on farms and with other postharvest stakeholders and to sustain the adoption of this technology and improvements for it. Unfortunately, there has been significant disinvestment in public-sector
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2009

postharvest research and development in the past. Recently, however, we have seen some donors showing renewed interest in reducing postharvest losses. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) are currently funding the adaptation and out-scaling of improved postharvest technologies through IRRI and its national partners in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Yield of edible rice

More than just losing a significant amount of grains, however, farmers also tend to lose grain quality in the postharvest process. Dr. Melissa Fitzgerald, IRRI grain quality specialist, raised this important question, “What use is high yield if it cannot be eaten or sold?” She said that the two things that determine the value of rice in the domestic and international markets are the proportion of broken grains and the rice’s “chalkiness.” Improper postharvest activities are one of the key causes of grain breakage. If the grain is densely packed with good-sized starch granules, it is much more likely to withstand postharvest processes. Chalk, or the white spot on the grain, is caused by air spaces between the starch granules, which make the grain fragile and easy to break. Chalkiness reduces rice’s value by 25% or more. Dr. Fitzgerald pointed out that an increase in rice’s chalkiness decreases its edibility, which would consequently spell a marked reduction in financial return to farmers. Chalk is induced by high temperatures; so, rice production faces a further threat with global warming. IRRI’s Grain Quality, Nutrition, and Postharvest Center is trying to develop markers (see On your mark, get set, select on pages 28-29 of Rice Today Vol. 3, No. 3) in rice’s genetic makeup that will enable plant breeders to come up with a variety that will be translucent (not chalky) and more resistant to grain breakage. IRRI hopes to go beyond just increasing paddy yield to increasing the “yield of edible rice.” Dr. Fitzgerald said that “yield as paddy means nothing to farmers, consumers, or marketers if grains like these (chalky and broken) are beneath the hulls.”
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WIlD FOOD plants such as the water lily abound in northeast Thailand.

Wildfood
GISeLLA CRuz GARCíA

by Gisella Cruz García and Paul Peters

Rice landscapes have offered farmers more than just rice; their wide array of wild food plants has proven to be an important source of livelihood

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ice fields are important for both rice production and the great biodiversity they possess. Paddy rice landscapes parallel some of the most diverse “natural” systems on Earth, having more than 100 useful associated plant species and an enormous diversity of insects, fish, invertebrates, birds, and small mammals. This biodiversity is essential to the livelihood of poor farmers, who largely depend on it as a “free” source of food, medicine, timber, fuel, and fodder, as well as for manufacturing domestic tools, utensils, and handicrafts. It is free because there is no need to “buy” biodiversity—which is crucial since poor farmers do not have enough money to buy their basic needs from the market. Biodiversity in rice fields is vital in supporting farmers’ livelihood and in regulating ecosystem processes and integrated pest management. As such, this rice landscape can be considered a multiresource agroecosystem. In current terms, the availability of such resources offers multiple ecosystem services. The collection and consumption of wild food plants from agricultural landscapes have been documented in

multiple cultural contexts, illustrating their importance to farming households throughout the world in many agrarian societies. Wild food plants are critical sources of nutrients, flavorings, and local medicinal remedies. They even serve as famine food in times of scarcity. Such plants, which provide a balanced diet, are essential to children and women, particularly those with scarce resources. In northeast Thailand, the largest and poorest region of the country, wild food plants from rice fields have become essential in ensuring household food security among farmers. These wild food plants are herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees that grow in diverse habitats in the rice landscape. Nevertheless, 30% of these plants are regarded as “rice weeds,” which some agronomists suggest should be removed. Farmers in northeast Thailand also harvest insects, fish, birds, frogs, crabs, snails, and rats from their fields and include them in their diet—representing an important means of saving income. Wild foods (plants, animals, and mushrooms) are an important component of local dishes and the culinary tradition of this region. Furthermore, the economy
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

of many families depends on the commercialization of these resources, which is mainly carried out by women. Traditional farmers maintain diverse aquatic, semiaquatic, and terrestrial habitats that interact ecologically throughout the rice landscape. Hillocks, shelters, pond margins, roadsides, and tree rows are examples of terrestrial habitats. Dikes—which could be dry or flooded depending on rain/irrigation conditions—constitute semiaquatic habitats. Field ditches and water ponds remain flooded during most of the year, providing aquatic habitats for wildlife. Wild plant communities that consist of trees, shrubs, vines, bamboos, herbs, and/or aquatic plants are different for each of these habitats. The distribution of plant diversity is not only related to the species’ water tolerance and life cycle, but also to the different degrees of management they have. The way farmers manage rice landscapes and wild food plants influences their abundance and distribution. Farmers mainly preserve culturally valued species, such as those that are key ingredients of important local dishes or that have multiple uses. This situation is different in central

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Thailand, where rice production is more intense and the landscape more homogeneous. In this region, rice landscapes have fewer biodiversity-rich habitats (such as ponds, hillocks, tree rows, and shelters) than in northeast Thailand. The brown planthopper outbreak in 2010 affected the Central Plains of the country (known as the “rice bowl” of Thailand) because of the lack of natural enemies to the hopper, according to Dr. K.L. Heong, expert in integrated pest management at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Biodiversity-rich habitats are important to local farmers and livelihoods because they are also home to the natural enemies in the fields. In a village in Kalasin Province (northeast Thailand), more than 80 wild food plants are consumed, including tamarind and neem tree; aquatic plants such as water lily, water hyacinth, and water spinach; weeds such as false pepperwort ducklettuce and rice paddy herb (Limnophila aromatica); herbs such as amaranth (Amaranthus viridis); and vines such as the fetid passionflower (Passiflora foetida). Nevertheless, in the last 20 years, many changes have affected the region such as the intensification of agriculture (including the introduction of agrochemicals and mechanization), migration of the farming families’ younger generation to urban areas to earn extra income, and deforestation. These changes may be a threat to the availability of wild food plants, which clearly are an important source of income that helps sustain livelihoods among poor farmers.

and ponds, and under dry and flooded conditions. This plant is an important component of the poor families’ diet and is frequently consumed. Nevertheless, it can also be a weed and a target of common herbicides used in the area.

Migration, labor shortage, mechanization, and loss of biodiversity

In most rice-farming villages in Kalasin Province, many young people opt to move to the main cities to earn more income. This has caused serious labor shortages for rice cultivation. At the same time, mechanization, primarily aimed at saving time and labor, has been increasing. In the mechanization process, there is a clear trend toward landscape homogenization, which eliminates many habitats—such as hillocks and shelters—to facilitate the use of tractors. These areas provide the greatest biodiversity of vegetables, fruit trees, vines, and edible insects. This also results in the loss of a valuable food-medicine source for poor farmers.

populations mostly consist of children and their grandparents (adults older than 50). Currently, children learn from their grandparents, but, in the near future, they are likely to leave the village as their parents did. Furthermore, children’s food preferences are shifting to vegetables mostly consumed in the cities, for example, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, and carrot. Given the importance of wild food plants from rice landscapes, the trends in the loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge are alarming. To preserve wild food plants as a resource for local communities, a holistic and integrated approach to rice landscapes is vital in order to maximize the benefits for resource-poor farmers. In many traditional systems, rice is but one of the many harvests from rice fields. Hence, it is crucial to consider this for local livelihoods, food security, and the environment. Ms. Cruz García is a biologist who is currently a PhD candidate at Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands. She has been working as an affiliate research scholar in IRRI’s Crop and Environmental Sciences Division since 2007. Mr. Paul Peters is a private agronomist who specializes in tropical agriculture, soil fertility, and water management.
Paul PeTeRs

Potential loss of traditional knowledge

The trends of modernization threaten traditional knowledge about wild food plant identification, management, preparation, and use. Young people’s migration away from rural areas is disrupting common mechanisms of knowledge transfer, because village

Overapplication of pesticide and herbicide

Biodiversity often puts farmers in a dilemma. On the one hand, they believe wild food plants are healthy; on the other hand, they know these plants are likely to be contaminated by pesticides applied in rice fields and are therefore unhealthy. Most farmers do not collect wild food plants during the 3 weeks following pesticide application. Some, however, have separate fields growing rice and wild food plant collections (where pesticides are not applied at all). A good example is water spinach, which grows in rice-field ditches, dikes,

FIElD DITChES and water ponds provide aquatic habitats for wildlife.

Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

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Machines of progress
by Lanie Reyes and Trina Leah Mendoza

Cambodian farmers adopted IRRI’s postharvest technology package, which improved the quality of their rice grains, increased their harvest’s milling output, and allowed them to save on labor, time, and money
lanie Reyes (3)

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sea of newly harvested rice extends to the horizon in Battambang Province—the rice bowl of Cambodia. It was only the third week of February, just the beginning of the harvesting season for many Asian countries, but it seemed like harvest time was already over in Battambang. As we drove farther along the dry and dusty roads of the province, a combine harvester suddenly appeared on the horizon. It cut through the rice stalks almost as effortlessly as mowing a backyard lawn with an operator sitting on top of a lawn mower. This is a stark contrast to the traditional backbreaking and tedious harvesting process, in which farmers bend to gather and slash stalks using razor-sharp sickles. Some collect and tie the stalks while others thresh, by hitting the rice plant on a piece of wood. Then the farmers winnow the paddy and let the trash blow away from it. Farmers’ chats to let their minds drift away from the scorching sun and the harrowing labor have been replaced by the whirring sound of the machine making its way through the rice fields.

The combine harvester, an iconic image of farming in progressive countries, is becoming the usual scene in Cambodia—a hint that labor shortage during harvest time is becoming a serious problem for Cambodian farmers.

A dynamo of change

When Martin Gummert, an agricultural engineer at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), visited Cambodia for the first time in 2001, it reminded him of Vietnam in the 1990s, when the mechanization of the country’s agriculture was in its infancy. Its postharvest technology was at a very low stage. The milling industry was mismatched and outdated, and there was limited storage capacity. “Though there was a lot of poverty, I could sense the excitement of people trying to leave the past behind, grab every opportunity, move on, and develop,” recalled Engr. Gummert. Many years back, in 1988, Harry Nesbitt and Glenn Denning, two of IRRI’s agricultural scientists, went to Cambodia to rebuild its rice production and “to breathe life
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

back into the killing fields,” as the country was ravaged by the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot. (See Towering legacies Vol. 1, No. 1 of Rice Today.) Since almost all traditional knowledge on rice farming had been lost, Drs. Nesbitt and Denning were there to basically build a whole new farming infrastructure and a system of agricultural research for Cambodians to carry on. In 2001, a newly established Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute then took over—part of the social context of the dynamism, which Engr. Gummert observed.
CHRis QuinTana

mARTIn gummERT, an agricultural engineer at IRRI, advocates better postharvest management to improve the quality of rice and reduce losses caused by spoilage and pests.

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Cambodia’s dynamic race to development specifically in rice production can be attributed to the tenacity of the Cambodians themselves. Their horrid history during the Khmer Rouge, 30 years back, seems to have faded in the background as they moved forward. Pyseth Meas, a postharvest expert on rice, is one of the members of the new generation unfettered by the nation’s challenging history. Instead, his past has become his inspiration. He vividly remembers growing up on a rice farm with his father, who was a government official before Pol Pot’s regime. When he lost his father during the war, his mother raised him and his siblings by selling rice. He witnessed his mother’s hard work and difficulty selling milled rice to consumers and traders. Like an imprint on his young mind, he was drawn to a profession that would ease the plight of those who depended on rice, such as his mother. Thus, he pursued a career in postharvest technology. “I could see that this was where I could contribute more to my country— knowing that 85% of the Cambodian farmers are rice farmers,” Dr. Meas said. “All of my life, I’ve wanted to do something for the Cambodian people, especially the farmers, because we rely on rice as our staple food and main source of income. So, when I became involved in a project on postharvest as a partner with IRRI, I was more than happy.” In 2005, the Postproduction Work Group (PPWG) under IRRI’s Irrigated Rice Research Consortium, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, pooled its resources together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) to fund the project Improving Poor Farmers’ Livelihoods through Improved Rice Postharvest Technology. It was designed and initially led by Joseph Rickman, who was then the head of the Agricultural Engineering Unit at IRRI. When he moved to Africa in 2006, Engr. Gummert took the lead. The project’s goal was to demonstrate to some villages in Battambang and Prey Veng provinces that improved harvesting, drying, storage, and milling can help farmers increase incomes from rice harvests and

Wind of inspiration

improve the quality of grain and seeds throughout the postharvest chain. In February 2006, farmers’ and rice millers’ needs were assessed through a survey. Hearing from the farmers themselves, the project team was able to determine that the farmers needed dryers, especially during the rainy season, when paddy quality was at a high risk of deteriorating quickly, and combine harvesters to solve the labor shortage.

villages. They taught and advised farmers regarding grain and seed quality, and safe storage options such as harvesting, threshing, cleaning, drying, hermetic storage, and milling.

Labor shortage

The first line of defense

Since knowledge is the first line of defense in this case—against postharvest losses—the project team conducted a trainers’ training in the same year to share their knowledge and expertise on improved postharvest options among the staff of the provincial agricultural extension services and their project counterpart in Cambodia. In the second half of 2006 and 2007, knowledge and skills in postharvest technologies smoothly cascaded to the farmers, as these trainers visited a total of eight

Just like in other countries, the young generations in rural farming areas move to the cities to find better jobs. With fewer hands, it is almost next to impossible to hold together the work on the farm. “Cultivating a hectare of land,” according to Dr. Meas, “needs about 100–120 person-days. And, about 40% is spent on establishing the crop and another 40–45% for harvesting.”

Small machine, huge effect

Then came the mini-combine harvester, also known as a mini-combine or simply combine. It fuses four operations (reaping, collecting, threshing, and cleaning) in one machine (see Cleverly cutting costs in Cambodia, Vol. 2, No. 2 on pages 5-6 of Ripple).

TRina leaH mendoZa

“ThE uSE of machinery is imperative for Cambodia to become a rice exporter,” said Dr. Pyseth meas (above left), a Cambodian expert on rice. Cambodian farmer net Kimyorn (above right) said that, with the use of a combine harvester, he can harvest the crop on time, with less labor, and at less cost. Seum Kouy (left), a farmer in Prey Stor Village, Prey Veng, said that, with an improved granary, her grains are protected from rain, insects, birds, and rats.

Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

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lanie Reyes (3)

to plan the best time to sell their rice. In addition, most farmers set aside an amount of rice for their family’s food until the next harvest and sell only the surplus. Thus, they still need the benefits from the mechanical drying technology.

Flatbed dryers

CAmbODIAn FARmERS rest under a tree while waiting for the combine to load rice on a truck.

When the team brought in this small contraption from Vietnam, they had two reasons in mind: one, to reduce the high harvesting cost caused by a lack of labor and, two, to increase the quality of the grain. After they showed how a mini-combine works to farmers in both Battambang and Prey Veng provinces, combines in different sizes have become a big hit. Net Kimyorn of Boeng Pring Village in Battambang said, “My fields are already less prone to accidents like fire.” In Cambodia, it was common for soon-to-be-harvested rice to catch fire, caused by lit cigarette butts thrown in the rice fields. Since harvest time falls during the summer season, rice fields are vulnerable to fires. Mr. Kimyorn recalled a fire in his community in 1993 when 98 hectares of rice fields were turned into ashes because a drunken man cooked rice near the fields. Lucky for Mr. Kimyorn, his rice fields were spared. “Moreover, we can harvest the crop on time, with less labor, and at less cost,” Mr. Kimyorn said. “And, we do not rely on the climate anymore. Before, it took almost a month to harvest a crop. Now, it takes only a few days. Less likely for rain to come while we are harvesting.” To manually harvest a hectare of rice field, a farmer needs to hire at least 25 persons. The farmer pays each one US$3–4 per day or spends $100–120 per hectare. Aside from it taking longer, the workers would still need to gather the crop for threshing.
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Hiring a combine harvester with an operator, on the other hand, costs $90–100. Aside from the difference in cost, grain quality is better, and it doesn’t take so much time. A large combine harvester with a cutting width of 3 meters, for example, can harvest a hectare in only an hour. Now, with less labor required in the field, Mr. Kimyorn and his family can devote their extra time to other income-generating activities such as fishing and selling noodles. Most of all, the family can spend more quality time with each other.

Competition benefits the farmers

There are even some cases wherein farmers do not need to do much after harvesting because, recently, buyers from Vietnam and Thailand have been purchasing rice directly from them. According to Dr. Meas, though these purchases are informal and are not in good order, farmers benefit much from them. Without buyers crossing the border, farmers rely mostly on rice millers to buy their paddy. However, with competition, farmers can ask for a better price. This does not mean, however, that drying is no longer needed. Some farmers dry and store their rice, then wait until the price is high before they sell it. This is when the information board greatly helps farmers. The use of information boards, as part of the holistic package of the PPWG of IRRI, gives up-to-date reports on the rice prices in the market, allowing farmers
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

Bringing technology to farmers is important for them to see their options up close. Thus, in 2007, the team introduced mechanical drying in Cambodia, by installing the first flatbed dryer in Ballat Village, Battambang, in collaboration with the irrigators’ association. When the farmers from the Po Chrey community in Prey Veng heard about the benefits of using mechanical dryers, they requested the project team to help them install a mechanical dryer in their village. The team assisted the community by providing a blower and rice husk furnace, while the farmers financed and installed the drying bin and the shed. In early 2008, two dryers were installed in Po Chrey community: one was initially supported by the PPWG and the other was set up by the private company ABK in cooperation with the community. Dryers became so in demand that, by mid-2009, the number of dryers increased to nine. Now, the country already has 11 known dryers. Before, Koul Savoeun, just like other farmers in Ballat Mancheay Village of Battambang Province, had no idea about moisture content. He relies only on his gut feeling in determining whether the paddy is dry or not. After learning about moisture content, he noticed that his grains became clean, had no bugs, and had better quality. According to Mr. Savoeun, after
KOul SAVOEun, a Cambodian farmer, said that, because the quality of the rice grains dried through a mechanical dryer has improved, he can sell them at a higher price.

milling, sun-dried rice is yellowish and has more broken grains than rice dried using the mechanical dryer. Since the quality of the grains dried through a mechanical dryer has improved, the price has stepped up also, from $23 per bag to $25 per bag (a bag contains 50 kilograms of rice). Mr. Savoeun added that they no longer depend on the climate to dry their paddy. They can dry their paddy even during rainy days.

Plausible promise

Storing the harvest

Even if grains are properly dried, this does not mean that farmers are free from potential postharvest losses. “In storage, losses to insects, rodents, and birds are estimated to be 5–10%," according to Engr. Gummert. Rice stored in homes is as common as a spirit house standing in each front yard in Cambodia because a Khmer family secures its rice consumption until the next harvest. Others store grains to sell when the price is at its peak. Seum Kouy, a farmer in Prey Stor Village, Prey Veng, said that with the improved granary—a technology also promoted by the project—her grains are protected from rain, insects, birds, and rats. And, for grains stored as seeds, IRRI provides the hermetic “Super Bag,” which protects the germination ability of the seed (see Fighting Asia’s postharvest problems, Vol. 6, No. 1 of Rice Today).

RICE STORED in homes is as common as a spirit house in Cambodia.

ADB has been funding a new project, Bringing about a Sustainable Agronomic Revolution in Rice Production in Asia by Reducing Preventable Pre– and Postharvest Losses, since 2009. It builds on the pilot activities of the ADBJFPR-funded project, which ended in 2008, and aims to reduce postharvest losses by scaling out technologies that have been proven effective. With the success of postharvest technologies in Cambodia, how did the team know that the technologies were mature enough to be released? “I think a technology is never mature enough to be released,” explained Engr. Gummert. “It’s always a process; you have to start with something. We call it a plausible promise, wherein the technology has the potential to solve a problem.” Vietnam has commercially produced 6,000 mechanical dryers, being used in counties in the Mekong Delta. For the team, this is a hint that the technology is sound and could also be applicable in Cambodia. Hence, “it became a starting point to introduce the technology in another country, rather than initiating a research project to design a new dryer,” Engr. Gummert explained. The combine was first introduced as mini or small. Its cutting edge of about 1 meter was just suited for small blocks of rice fields. “The reason was that it was cheap and affordable,” said Engr. Gummert. “We knew that it was limited in terms of capacity and it is not the technology that can treat all the needs of farmers.” Now, farmers adapt the technology to their needs. Since Cambodia has bigger rice areas, medium (2-meter cutting width) and large combine harvesters (3-meter cutting width) have been imported from Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

has more potential to go up. “As far as I know, Thailand is already near its ceiling; I don’t think it has more space to climb up,” Dr. Meas added. “If the country will use modern varieties along with improved irrigation infrastructure, let alone use postharvest technologies, the country may even triple its present rice production,” Dr. Meas confidently predicted.

Contribution to the country’s goal

Developing Cambodia’s potential

A United States Department of Agriculture report in 2009 says that Cambodia aims to double its rice production in 2015 and become a major exporter. According to Dr. Meas, the country already has a surplus for export even if its average rice production is only 2.7 tons per hectare and it has poor irrigation infrastructure (only 15% of its rice areas are irrigated). Thus, it
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2010

It is hoped that postharvest technologies will help Cambodia attain its goals to be a major exporter and double its production in 2015. For Engr. Gummert, there are two ways in which better postharvest management can contribute to the country’s goal. First, Southeast Asia loses 15–25% of grains because of spoilage and pests. Reducing these losses will contribute to the country’s rice output. The other area is basically quality. “Better quality directly affects the ability to export rice because, to become a major exporter,” explained Engr. Gummert, “the country needs to produce quality consistently. And, only by using advanced postharvest technology can this be attained.” Cambodia cannot definitely rely on manual labor if it wants to be a major exporter some day. Dr. Meas explained that if a country, let us say the Philippines, wants rice from Cambodia, it prefers only one or two varieties. The same variety ripens at the same time. If manual labor is used to harvest, it is difficult to maintain the grain quality; and, because of labor shortages, it is impossible to harvest this variety at the same time. Some plants will be less mature, and others overripe. “If the rice is less mature, it will have less milling output; if it is overripe, it will have a lot of breakage,” Dr. Meas explained. “Therefore, use of machinery is imperative for Cambodia to become an exporter.” No doubt, combine harvesters and flatbed dryers, among other postharvest technologies, are radically transforming how farmers farm in Cambodia. It goes without saying that Cambodia is moving toward efficiency and modernity as it strives to increase rice production and leapfrogs to become a major rice exporter in Asia.
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the rise of ric
Rice finds its way back to the top of the agenda as nations across the world try to attain food security in the face of an unpredictable climate and a volatile rice market

by Mia Aureus

e
countries. Genetically modified (GM) rice may also hold potential to safely deliver unique rice varieties that cannot be achieved through other breeding methods—although currently, no GM rice is commercially available. Moreover, Dr. Thomas Reardon of Michigan State University pointed out that increasing yield does not necessarily lie only in developing new varieties (http:// youtu.be/EXJygMGlSL4). Sometimes, it just simply needs efficient postharvest and structural management. Poor postharvest practices can reduce yield by 15–20%. He also noted that moving away from long supply chains can help prevent a large amount of rice from being wasted. Citing China as an example, he said that 5% of production is lost in just bringing rice from the farm to the plate. Strength in policy and investment To be able to obtain the necessary technologies, the rice sector calls for better policies and more investments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recognized the strength that lies behind these two factors, and it has already put its financial support behind IRRI’s initiatives—most recently, the Global Rice Science Partnership (see Blueprint for a greener revolution on pages 18-21). Prahbu Pingali, deputy director of agricultural development at the Foundation, said that the Foundation believes that everyone should have a healthy, productive life, and IRRI’s innovative research is recognized as a vital tool that will catalyze a shift toward this vision. While investments start to come in, governments are further encouraged to do their fair share to implement more efficient policies that will sustain the development of these programs for the benefit of the present and future generations. See selected IRPIC video clips on YouTube at http://irri.org/IRPIC_videos.
lanie Reyes

r

ice will never be just another commodity. Much of the truth behind this simple statement can be derived from the 2008 rice crisis that shocked the world and triggered massive protests in Africa and parts of Asia. It revealed the fragile economic state of many families across the world that relied on this staple for daily nourishment. Rice, which has dwindled in significance after the successes of the Green Revolution, was suddenly catapulted again to a national priority and an international imperative—with several new challenges that will test the ability of the world to deliver food for the future. Speakers at the first-ever International Rice Policy and Investment Conference (IRPIC) covered key issues on rice trade and the impact of policy and investment. This conference, organized in conjunction with the 28th International Rice Research Conference during the International Rice Congress 2010 held in Hanoi, Vietnam, 8-12 November, highlighted rice’s importance in both achieving food security and reducing poverty. Considering that half of the world depends on rice, any tip in the balance of global rice production can cause ripple effects in the market that eventually hit poor farmers and consumers. Dr. Samarendu Mohanty, head of the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) Social Sciences Division and IRPIC organizer (photo above), pointed out that, over the past 2 years, many nations have moved toward food security by attaining rice self-sufficiency. Nations have awakened to the truth that the agricultural sector demands as much attention as any other sector in the economic development process; hence, efforts to expand domestic production by increasing yield and providing better input subsidies have mushroomed in most countries. Nations also saw a need to build their domestic stocks by increasing minimum
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support prices to encourage more farmers to plant, and, in some cases, governments such as India were compelled to protect their stocks by imposing an export ban. Trade restrictions, however, were often seen to distort the market and are therefore not healthy in the long run. Such market shocks, including calamities that drastically cut supplies, have brought a renewed focus on regional rice reserves to serve as a buffer. Plus, the challenge of a limited water and energy supply added two more constraints to production; these resources were previously assumed to be broadly available during the last Green Revolution. This has, in turn, made sustainability a recurring theme, as rice production’s impact on the environment was also considered in assessing policy and investment initiatives. Increasing yield is the key According to IRRI, the key to building the global rice supply lies in improving yield. In his outlook for 2020 and 2035, Dr. Mohanty noted that, in order for the supply to keep up with the growing demand, the world needs to produce an additional 84 million tons of paddy in the next 10 years. This requires a 1.5% increase in yield every year compared with the current 0.8%. Dr. Mohanty added that, by 2035, without yield improvements, land available to rice must expand by much more so as to produce the additional 116 million tons that will be needed to keep the world sufficiently fed. But, little land is now available for expansion. IRRI’s main thrust is to use innovative technology to develop new varieties that can provide better yield and thrive during drought, flooding, and salinity, among other extreme conditions. Marker-assisted breeding and hybridization are two modern technologies that have been used to develop new rice varieties that have been adopted in major rice-growing
Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2011

Asia pushes for sustainable food security
Asian leaders gather to chart the next steps toward ensuring enough rice in every bowl

Never an empty bowl video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/HvCBQD3An9g

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he Asia Society and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) task force report, Never an Empty Bowl: Sustaining Food Security in Asia, was the focus of the Ministerial Roundtable Meeting on rice at the Third International Rice Congress (IRC2010) in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 9 November. The Ministerial Roundtable Meeting was chaired by Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat and IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler. Representing the Asia Society at the meeting was Dr. Peter Timmer, the task force’s principal advisor. Officials from 19 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam; written statements provided by Brunei Darussalam and Singapore) and seven international and aid organizations,

including the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Development Programme, and the Asian Development Bank, participated in the meeting. Participants shared their insights into how the task force report fits into their own specific national and institutional food security plans and expressed unanimous support for the report’s findings and recommendations. All participants agreed that implementing the four major recommendations contained in the report is critical to achieving food security in the long term and improving access to affordable rice in Asia and throughout the world. The report specifically recommended raising and sustaining the productivity of rice farmers in ways that conserve water, land, and energy-intensive inputs, while also building resilience to the expected impacts of climate change; improving the environment for rural development, including farm and nonfarm activities locally, nationally, and regionally, with renewed attention to how to stabilize domestic food economies; providing safety nets and more nutritious foods to

the rural and urban poor so that they can lead productive lives even in the face of significant risks and vulnerabilities; and providing regional public goods for sustainable food security in Asia. One common theme that emerged from the meeting was how Asia’s growing population and economic development will impact the availability of rice for future generations. Participants widely agreed on the need for greater investments into strengthening the global rice economy, particularly in Asia, to reduce supply vulnerability and prevent the emergence of another food crisis like the one that occurred in 2008. “There was great enthusiasm for the messages contained in the report and for the clarity in which they were presented,” said Dr. Timmer after the Ministerial Roundtable Meeting. “The next step is for participating officials to take the report back to their countries (and institutions) and use it as a framework to help analyze and formulate their own food security policies.” Mr. Hsu is a senior program officer for policy studies at the Asia Society.

Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2011

asia soCieTy

by Robert Hsu

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Changing the face of rice
by Sushil Pandey

IRRI develops a new vision for future rice farming to counteract threats to food security

W

aRiel Javellana

hat 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,
iRRi

and, recently, there has been a rising concern that history will repeat itself. Such a vision has been developed in a new book, Rice in the Global Economy: Strategic Research and Policy Issues for Food Security, published by IRRI in 2010 to commemorate its 50th anniversary. This edited volume, which consists of 18 chapters co-authored by 59 experts, was officially released in November 2010 during the International Rice Congress held in Hanoi, Vietnam. The book is forward-looking and various scholarly contributions lay out a rich menu of options for enhancing the overall performance of the global rice

economy to reduce poverty and hunger. As outlined in the book, five major challenges confront scientists and policymakers: meeting global food security needs by providing an affordable and stable supply of rice, managing structural change successfully, enhancing efficiency in input use and value chains, reducing environmental footprints, and improving productivity in the lagging regions such as Africa.

Challenges to attaining sustainable food security

A major challenge is sustaining the global rice supply to meet rising consumption demand up until 2025 and beyond. Even if total consumption decreases somewhat beyond 2025 due to increasing dietary diversification, yield increases must be sustained to make up for the area lost to other crops as agriculture becomes more diversified and, most importantly, to cope with the negative impacts of climate change. It is also equally important to manage price volatility for global and national food security—a

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Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2011

necessary strategy in the face of increasingly frequent and severe shocks caused by water scarcity, higher energy prices, and climate change. Asian agriculture is poised to undergo major structural changes as nonagricultural sectors expand with economic growth. As labor moves out of agriculture in the course of economic growth, an immense challenge is striking a balance between consumer and producer isagani seRRano interests and managing growing rural-urban income disparities. 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. Improvements in input-use efficiency will help to reduce the environmental footprints of rice production. Beyond the plot level, the challenge will be to better manage rice-based ecosystems to reduce water pollution, soil erosion, and downstream silting, while saving land and biodiversity. Globally, rice systems can contribute strongly to the mitigation of global warming through reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, especially methane and nitrous oxide, as well as through increased sequestration of atmospheric carbon in soil organic matter. For poverty reduction, it is paramount to help the lagging regions, especially in rainfed areas of both Asia and Africa, where rice productivity remains low and poverty is concentrated. These regions also face many challenges, including a lack of infrastructure, poor institutions and governance, and fragile soils. Many are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Productivity growth in lagging regions must be attained while continuing to invest in raising productivity in irrigated areas that account for over 70% of total global rice production. We need to improve productivity and livelihoods in the lagging regions, especially in rainfed areas where some of the poorest people are concentrated.

Global solutions to future challenges

There is no single solution to the challenge of global food security. Instead, many options are available to sustainably improve rice systems and enhance the overall performance of the global rice economy to reduce poverty and hunger. Priorities will clearly differ greatly among countries and even within countries. They need to embrace a wide range of technological, policy, and institutional options. It is true that global problems need global solutions, but they must be flexible enough to meet local needs. Globally, rice science is characterized by pervasive underinvestment. Substantially increasing investments in research and development for the future is urgently needed to assure the future food security of the poor. There are tremendous scientific opportunities for increasing farm-level productivity by raising the yield potential of both inbred and hybrid rice and even radical engineering of rice plants. Similarly, modern biotechnology tools can be used to reduce yield instability caused by climatic shocks that are likely to become more frequent with climate change. Improved crop management practices can similarly lead to an agronomic revolution that will help raise systemlevel productivity while reducing any adverse environmental effects. Also, policies and institutional reforms are needed to achieve and sustain productivity growth while ensuring a stable supply of affordable rice for the poor. Policy reforms to liberalize both domestic and international rice markets are vital to ensure a timely flow of rice
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2011

from surplus to deficit areas and to encourage private trade. A stable food supply for the future will require more, not less, trade. Scaled-up safety net programs that are countercyclical to price shocks and well targeted to the most vulnerable are essential in order to improve food security. Improved institutional arrangements to better manage and coordinate irrigation, promote collective actions for improving system productivity, explore opportunities for value addition through improved postharvest management, and promote farm consolidation for higher efficiency are likewise important for improving food security for the future. Dr. Pandey is a senior economist at IRRI. A more detailed version of this article is available as a mini review in IRRI’s online technical journal, International Rice Research Notes, at http://irri. org/irrn. The book can be ordered at RiceworldBookstore@cgiar.org and downloaded online at http://irri.org/ books. View video clips shot during the official launching of the book at the 3rd International Rice Congress at http://snipurl.com/1rlh9k.

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Bridging the gap
by Trina Leah Mendoza and Grant Singleton

Good agricultural practices are sweeping across Asia and improving technologies for better rice quality

I

n 1997, as a reaction to the growing concerns of consumers, British food retailers working with supermarkets in continental Europe decided to harmonize their different standards and procedures on product safety, environment, and labor. This initiative, called Global GAP (good agricultural practices), developed “good practices” in conventional agriculture, which highlighted the importance of integrated crop management and a responsible approach to worker welfare. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, GAP are “practices that address environmental, economic, and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and nonfood agricultural products.” The idea of Global GAP certification attracted more and more producers and retailers around the world as global trading emerged. This is recognized internationally and has been in place for many years, particularly for vegetable and fruit crops. GAP for rice, however, is still in its infancy.

Raising the bar

Although appropriate adoption and monitoring of GAP will help improve the safety and quality of food and other agricultural products, there are some challenges, especially for smallscale farmers. These farmers are highly at risk of not meeting export standards, unless they are sufficiently informed and organized by their government and other public agencies. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), through the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), strives to give small-scale rice farmers a chance to join export markets by providing them with best rice-growing practices to be able to pass GAP standards.

BILLBOARdS OF the Mot Phai, Nam Giam (One Must do, Five Reductions) program are spread across An Giang, Vietnam.
gRanT singleTon

In Vietnam

FIeLd WATeR tubes are used in alternate wetting and drying technology to help farmers observe the water level in their fields.

The IRRC has been working closely with Vietnamese colleagues to develop best practices for lowland rice production as a platform for GAP certification. Some provincial governments in the Mekong Delta are now offering a guaranteed 20% premium for rice produced under Global GAP certification. So far, only five farmer groups have been certified, with three of them coming from An Giang Province. The certification included the farmers’ adoption of the Mot Phai, Nam Giam (One Must Do, Five Reductions) program—a platform for environmentally sustainable and efficient production of lowland irrigated rice. The program builds on Vietnam’s Three Reductions, Three Gains policy that encourages farmers to reduce seed rate, fertilizer use, pesticide use, water use, and
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2011

postharvest losses. These practices build on the “one must do,” which is to use certified seeds. Running for five planting seasons now, the program has conducted 108 training courses attended by 2,518 farmers, who have applied the new technologies to 3,360 hectares of their farmland. Farmers who apply the technologies get the same yield as nonpracticing farmers, but save more in production costs (about US$200 per hectare per season). For the summer-autumn crop, this amounts to almost a 25% increase in profit, but, for the autumnwinter crop, the farmers get double in profit. The reduced input use of farmers, particularly of pesticides, also reduced the risk of environmental pollution and of pest outbreaks. With the success of the An Giang rice GAP model, plans are being made to further scale out the technologies to 12 other provinces in the Mekong Delta. Farmers in these provinces generally have substantially lower rice yields than in An Giang, so the IRRC expects the extension of new technologies under Mot Phai, Nam Giam to increase yields as well as production efficiencies.

In Indonesia

The 2008 rice price crisis led the Indonesian government to launch a national program to increase the

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country’s annual rice production by Farmers have also learned that they 5%. In 2011, this has been increased need to lessen pesticide use because to 7–10%. South and Southeast there are farmer-friendly insects in Sulawesi provinces have high potential the field that need to be protected. to increase production. Thus, in Having seen the benefits of these March 2008, IRRC scientists were practices, farmers are now testing two commissioned by the Australian Centre or more of these technologies together for International Agricultural Research in their fields. “We are happy,” claims to lead a collaborative project with the one farmer. “We got 3 tons per hectare Assessment Institutes of Agricultural in 2008 and 5 tons in 2010.” Another Technologies and the Indonesian farmer reported more than a 100% Center for Rice Research to raise rice increase in rice yield: “Two and a half productivity in these provinces. years ago, I had 3.5 tons per hectare. Donna Casimero, an IRRI project scientist who was based in Makassar, Indonesia, introduced the best practices to manage water, weeds, nutrients, and pests to farmers in four selected villages. Before the intervention, farmers tended to apply too much fertilizer at the early stage of the crop. Adaptive trials in farmers’ fields compared the current farmers’ practice with InSTeAd OF spraying insecticides, farmersite-specific nutrient management partners in Southeast Sulawesi now set up traps to catch male white stem borers. (SSNM). SSNM plots showed higher yields in most villages. “I donna CasimeRo (2) told them that feeding a young rice plant was similar to feeding a baby, This season, I got 7.3 tons per hectare.” and that it did not need that much milk,” In 2010, farmers in four selected villages says Dr. Casimero. This simple message received a total of 1.8 million rupiah bore into the minds of farmers, and they (US$204) more in net returns than reduced their fertilizer application. farmers who did not try the practices. Rice farmers in Bendewuta, Driven by the enthusiasm of the Southeast Sulawesi, used to spray farmers and Indonesian partners, herbicide for broadleaf weeds in their the IRRC will continue to provide fields, when these were actually infested technical assistance to spread best with grassy weeds. They were not aware practices to more districts, with of the different and proper herbicides funding from the Swiss Agency for to use, and they were clueless that Development and Cooperation. they were losing 20–30% of their yield embracing GAP because of weeds alone. Dr. Casimero, Countries such as Thailand and Lao also an agronomist and weed scientist, PDR are also exploring GAP for rice. educated the farmers about different In Thailand, it is at an early stage of herbicides, which they tested on their diffusion among farmers. Thailand plots. As a result, farmers now use the endorsed GAP for rice nationally in 2008 right herbicides and have come to realize and a 19-member committee was formed the major effect of weeds on their yield. to develop standards for rice. Now, about Farmers who tried alternate wetting 50,000 Thai farmers have been registered and drying technology, which allowed for rice GAP. This is, however, different their plots to dry for several days, showed from the standards of Global GAP. yield increases of 0.2–0.6 ton per hectare Thailand has modified Global GAP compared with yields of continuously standards into quality management flooded fields, which was their usual practice. They were also able to reduce the systems (QMS) for specific commodities. Since 2004, more than number of irrigation periods by 10–30%.
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2011

300,000 farmers have been educated on QMS for 28 kinds of crops. These guidelines covered pre- and postharvest practices to raise standards and certify those that meet all criteria. Farmers are encouraged to record their practices in diaries, and these practices are reviewed and ratified by the Thai Rice Department. Rice GAP standards, for example, require Thai rice farmers to keep water and land free from hazardous contamination and to follow the registered-label use of pesticides. Harvesting should be done 25–35 days after flowering, and drying within 24 hours.

To capture all the best ricegrowing practices for lowland irrigated rice, the IRRC has developed a GAP Web site that can be accessed via IRRI’s Rice Knowledge Bank (www.knowledgebank.irri. org/rice). The site provides practical solutions to help rice farmers boost yields, improve grain quality and production efficiency, and adopt more environmentally sustainable practices. The Web site synthesizes decades of collaborative research and development from IRRI and its many partners on best management practices for irrigated rice, and it will continue to incorporate new knowledge in the future.

A knowledge bank for rice GAP

Filling in the gap

This April, the IRRC is funding an international symposium in Bangkok, Thailand, on GAP for rice in Southeast Asia to enable countries to share their experiences in establishing and promoting rice GAP. One outcome of the meeting will be the development of a rice GAP network for Southeast Asia. Through the IRRC, IRRI is paving the way for small-scale rice farmers to benefit from best management practices that will ensure them of higher profits and healthier harvests. The adoption of GAP will enable them to develop market opportunities for higher quality rice both domestically and internationally, and help fill in the gap between them and wealthier farmers.
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Grain of truth

“Iron-clad” rice
by Inez H. Slamet-Loedin

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n 2010, the number of be bioavailable. One preferred IROn-EnRIChED rice will soon contribute hungry people surpassed biotechnology approach uses to reducing "hidden hunger." 1 billion worldwide the gene from soybean for the because of increases in protein ferritin. Ferritin is an food prices. Unbeknownst iron-storage protein that can to many, more than 2 billion hold up to 4,500 atoms of iron people are suffering from per molecule in its central ‘‘hidden hunger,’’ a term used cavity. A study with humans to describe micronutrient with ferritin purified from malnutrition. Anemia soybean has shown that the iron affects more than 2 billion from this source is one of the people globally, with women most bioavailable forms known. and children most at risk. Several studies have reported Deficiency in dietary iron that the ferritin biotechnology is a main cause of anemia. approach can increase the It is the most common iron content to 8–10 ppm, KuRniawan Rudi TRiJaTmiKo and widespread nutrition but not yet to 14 ppm. problem, together with deficiency iron per kilogram (ppm) of rice, and Recently, some studies have shown in zinc, iodine, and vitamin A. a maximum of 4–5 ppm in a few rice that modifying the iron transporter Iron deficiency and iron deficiency mills in Vietnam. Similar studies nicotianamine in rice can be effective anemia cause a range of health problems in the U.S. and Brazil have verified in increasing iron concentrations in the in humans, including increased chances the very low iron in white rice. grain. This approach uses a number of of maternal and child mortality and Breeders at the International Rice rice genes for nicotianamine synthase to negative consequences on cognitive Research Institute screened thousands boost the overall levels of the transporter and physical development of children. of rice seeds from the International and thereby increase the movement of They also affect an individual’s Rice Genebank (a seed bank) and from iron into the grain. The incorporation of physical performance, especially breeding lines and varieties for the the two approaches, soybean ferritin and the work productivity of adults. iron content in the polished rice. They rice nicotianamine synthase, together in Combating micronutrient identified a few potential breeding popular varieties, is now being advanced malnutrition is considered to be among materials with 5–8 ppm iron. Biofortified to determine whether the combination the best investments that generate a crops need to contribute at least 30% will lead to achieving the very important high return in socioeconomic benefits of the estimated average requirements goal of rice with higher iron. according to the 2008 Copenhagen for them to be meaningful to a target Biofortification can serve as an Consensus. The Consensus listed population group. The HarvestPlus important sustainable tool in combination biofortification, a method of breeding Program of the Consultative Group on with existing ways of overcoming crops in order to increase their nutritional International Agricultural Research has iron deficiency and iron deficiency value, as one of its top five investments set a minimum of 14 ppm iron in polished anemia; these existing approaches to address global challenges. rice to benefit women and children. include a diverse diet, fortification, and In developing countries, rice, as a Now, the next question supplements. The main advantages staple food, may still provide as much is, how to fill the gap. of developing varieties with high iron as 80% of the daily calorie intake. In addition to more breeding, one content are that this is a food-based Unfortunately, polished white rice option is to use modern biotechnology approach and delivering the solution contains low amounts of iron. A study to introduce other genes to increase the in such a widely consumed crop of the iron content of polished rice uptake and storage of iron in the rice could contribute to a large effect. marketed in a number of rice mills in endosperm (white rice when polished). the Philippines and Vietnam showed In earlier work, it has been established that popular varieties such as IR64, that the iron in rice is highly bioavailable Dr. Slamet-Loedin is a senior scientist Sinandomeng, Intan, and Jasmine 85 (can be absorbed and used by the human in IRRI’s Plant Breeding, Genetics, generally contain 2–3 milligrams of body) and additional iron should also and Biotechnology Division.
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Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2011

news

“Chalky” discovery could increase value of rice by 25%

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n a major discovery, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) uncovered important genetic information on what makes rice chalky—an undesirable trait that can devalue the grain by up to 25%. This discovery could lead to higher quality “chalk-free” rice. Chalk-free rice has higher milling recovery, which means better returns for farmers. Chalk, the white, opaque portion in rice, increases the chances of the rice grain breaking when milled. This reduces the amount of rice recovered, and downgrades the quality assessment rating of rice. “Two things cause chalkiness in a rice grain: genetics and environment,” explains Dr. Melissa Fitzgerald, leader of IRRI’s grain quality and nutrition research. Farmers cannot answer for the genetics of rice; neither can they do anything about the environment. But, one thing is clear—farmers want to keep their grains translucent and appealing to consumers to gain more from their field. “Before, rice scientists did not know where in the rice genome the genes for chalkiness resided,” asserts Dr. Fitzgerald. For more than 15 years, Dr. Fitzgerald has been trying to understand what makes rice chalky because understanding this will pave the way to creating chalk-free rice varieties. “Currently, only a few commercially available rice varieties have genuinely low chalkiness,” says Dr. Fitzgerald. “Our discovery can help us improve on this.” Dr. Fitzgerald’s team, which includes Dr. Xiangqian Zhao, a postdoctoral research fellow, Dr. Adoracion Resurreccion, Ms. Venea Dara Daygon, and Mr. Ferdinand Salisi, worked with many lines of rice with different chalkiness properties. In 2010, crucial data from field tests in eight different countries each with different growing environments

CHRis QuinTana

ChAlK—ThE white, opaque portion in rice—can devalue the grain by up to 25% because a chalky rice grain is more likely to break when milled.

came in. These field test results showed three groups of rice: rice that was always very high in chalkiness, rice that varied in chalkiness depending on the environment, and rice with extremely low chalk. After analyzing the third group of rice, the extremely low chalky ones, scientists were able to identify major regions in the rice genome, or candidate genes, that are responsible for chalkiness. The discovery of these regions puts IRRI scientists a step closer to identifying the

actual genes that give rice its chalky trait. “We are now working with the extremely low-chalk rice to generate different breeding lines to develop new chalk-free rice varieties,” declares Dr. Zhao. “These can help farmers increase the amount of edible rice they harvest, produce higher quality rice, increase profit, and deliver higher quality rice to consumers.” This research is supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. ¢

DR. mElISSA Fitzgerald (far right) and her team aim to develop chalk-free rice varieties.

isagani seRRano

Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

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E

mma is a 38-year-old mother of eight from the Philippines. She earns a living as a cleaning lady, and putting food on the table is a challenge that she and her husband face each day. For Emma and many other families in Asia, rice is the staple food, which eats up the family’s meager budget. “We depend on rice every day, because it is filling,” she said. “Most of the time, however, we cannot afford fish, meat, or vegetables. We only sprinkle salt or soy sauce to add some flavor or sometimes prepare rice as porridge. “I know this lacks the important nutrients that will help make my children grow healthy, but what can I do? We have to fill our stomachs first,” Emma laments. Families around the world, like Emma’s, consume only nutrient-poor staple foods because other nutritious food such as meat products, vegetables, and fruits are scarce, unavailable, or too expensive. This contributes to hidden hunger—malnutrition from micronutrients. With the ballooning world population, “hidden hunger” will also likely rise. Lack of sufficient vitamin A in the diet reduces the body’s ability to fight infections such as diarrhea and measles. It can also cause blindness and increases the risk of death. Vitamin A is particularly important for children as well as pregnant and lactating women as their nutrient needs are increased. Asia has one of the highest prevalences of vitamin A deficiency in the world. It is considered a public health problem in many Asian countries with 33.5% of preschool children afflicted. In 2009, the World Health Organization reported that more than 90 million children in Southeast Asia suffered from it, more than in any other region. Each year, it is estimated that 670,000 children under the age of five die because they are vitamin A-deficient, and another 350,000 go blind. The Philippines’ Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) reported that, in 2003, vitamin A deficiency afflicted 40.1% of Filipino children, 15.5% of pregnant women, and 20.1% of lactating women, making it a serious public health concern.
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for better nutrition
by Ma. Aileen Garcia

GoldEn Grains

Golden Rice is unique because it contains beta carotene, which gives it a golden color.

isagani serrano

To address the vitamin A deficiency problem in the Philippines, the government, together with nongovernment organizations and the private sector, has been implementing far-reaching programs such as the distribution of vitamin A capsules. Sangkap Pinoy, a food fortification program, was also established to ensure that food products such as noodles are fortified with vitamin A along with other micronutrients. Owing in part to these programs, recent data indicate that the population’s vitamin A status has improved. The National Nutrition Survey conducted by FNRI in 2008 showed a decreasing trend in vitamin A deficiency among children aged 6 to 59 months (15.2%), pregnant women (9.5%), and lactating women (6.4%). Despite these positive developments, however, vitamin A deficiency remains a significant public health problem in many less developed countries according to Nancy Haselow, vice president and regional director of Helen Keller International (HKI). HKI has been advocating the elimination of vitamin A deficiency for more than 40 years, working with governments and other partners to reach those most in need through various interventions. She said, “The most vulnerable children and women in hard-to-reach areas are often missed by existing interventions that can improve vitamin A status, including vitamin A supplementation, food fortification, dietary diversification, and promotion of optimal breastfeeding.” Also, interventions such as vitamin A supplementation are sustainable only as long as there is funding and political will to continue. What if support for these programs halts? A free-market driven, foodbased effort with wide coverage that reaches poor areas could be more sustainable toward controlling vitamin A deficiency in the future, thus preventing blindness and earlier death. What could help fill the basket of options to tackle vitamin A deficiency?

A golden advantage Golden Rice may be part of the answer. Golden Rice is unique because it contains beta carotene, which gives it a golden color. The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A as it is needed. According to research published in 2009, daily consumption of a very modest amount of Golden Rice―about a cup―could supply 50% of the Recommended Daily 1 Allowance of vitamin A for an adult. Through genetic modification, Golden Rice contains genes from maize and from a common soil microorganism that produce beta carotene in the grains. It was first developed by Prof. Ingo Potrykus, then of the Institute for Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Prof. Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg, Germany. By 1999, Prof. Potrykus and Dr. Beyer had produced a prototype Golden Rice and published their landmark research in Science. Since 2000, scientific research and international collaboration on Golden Rice have been supported by funding and in-kind support from the private, public, and philanthropic sectors. In 2005, a major breakthrough led to the development of a new Golden Rice that now produces more beta carotene. This became the foundation of the current efforts. The beauty of Golden Rice lies in its potential to reach many people— who may not have regular access to other sources of vitamin A—because rice is widely produced and consumed. Rice is eaten and grown in more than 100 countries, including the Philippines, and is the staple food for more than 3 billion people. Rice provides 50–80% of the total caloric intake of most Asians, who are most affected by vitamin A deficiency. “Since a large proportion of vitamin A–deficient children and their mothers reside in rice-consuming populations, particularly in Asia, Golden Rice should substantially reduce the prevalence and severity of vitamin A deficiency, and prevent at least hundreds

1

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

27

Jill KueHneRT

PARmInDER VIRK, IRRI senior scientist; Alamgir hossain, bRRI principal plant breeder; and Antonio Alfonso, PhilRice plant breeder and golden Rice project leader (at left, from left to right). EmmA lOOKS forward to the day when she can serve more nutritious rice to her children (top).

of thousands of unnecessary deaths and cases of blindness every year,” said Alfred Sommer, professor and dean emeritus, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Sommer, an internationally acclaimed public health scientist, has been at the forefront of vitamin A deficiency research, leading major studies that were fundamental to the current understanding of the effect of vitamin A supplementation on mortality, malnutrition, and blindness. If proven effective in improving vitamin A status, Golden Rice could be used in combination with existing approaches, including education, supplementation, and fortification programs, to overcome vitamin A deficiency. Golden Rice could become part of the long-sought solution, which farmers themselves can harvest from their own fields, year after year. The Golden Rice project Major nutrition and agricultural research organizations are now working together to further develop and evaluate Golden Rice as a potential way to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines and Bangladesh, among other countries. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) leads the Golden Rice project and is directly involved in several agriculture-related aspects of the project, including initial breeding
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work to insert the new Golden Rice trait into rice varieties that were selected by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). This involves laboratory work, greenhouse tests, and some preliminary field evaluation. Potential Golden Rice varieties are then transferred to national rice institutes for further development and assessment. “Golden Rice is an incredible innovation that we are proud to be working on,” said IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler. “It has a huge potential to help reduce the devastating consequences of vitamin A deficiency in rice-growing and rice-consuming countries.” In the Philippines, PhilRice is at the forefront of developing new Golden Rice varieties that are suited to specific rice-growing conditions in the country. One popular rice variety being developed by PhilRice to have a Golden Rice counterpart is PSB Rc82, more commonly known in the market as Peñaranda. PhilRice has just recently conducted a confined field test, to be followed by multilocation field trials for several seasons, in accordance with regulatory requirements. “We are conducting our breeding carefully to make sure that the new Golden Rice variety retains the same high yield, pest resistance, and excellent grain and eating qualities
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

while helping to tackle the pervasive problem of vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines,” said Dr. Antonio Alfonso, chief science specialist and Golden Rice team leader at PhilRice. Safety first Like other genetically modified crops, Golden Rice will be made available to farmers and consumers only after it has been approved by national regulatory bodies. To help establish the safety of Golden Rice in the environment, field trials and other evaluations will be conducted in both the Philippines and Bangladesh. Field trials are important, too, to show that Golden Rice grows the same as other rice in local conditions. Furthermore, these trials will inform the national regulators about the safety of Golden Rice, just like in the regulatory framework of Bangladesh. Golden Rice will be assessed according to internationally accepted guidelines for the safe use of modern biotechnology, such as the Codex Alimentarius of the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, OECD Consensus Guidelines, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Philippine safety regulations contained in Department of Agriculture Administrative Order

aileen gaRCia (2)

Severity of vitamin A deficiency in Asia

Golden Rice for Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, one in every five children aged 6 months to 5 years is estimated to be vitamin A-deficient. Among pregnant women, 23.7% had low serum retinol levels, indicating vitamin A deficiency. As in the Philippines, rice is an indispensable part of the Bangladeshi diet, providing an average of more than 70% of calories every day. unfortunately, most of the time, rice is all some Bangladeshis can afford to eat. Although rice fills their stomachs, it doesn’t provide a source of healthy micronutrients such as vitamin A. Dr. Alamgir Hossain, who is leading the Golden Rice work for BRRI, said that he has been working with the inventors of Golden Rice as well as with IRRI scientists for years. “Our work focuses on putting the Golden Rice trait into the best all-around varieties, such as BRRI dhan29, the most popular rice variety in Bangladesh. “As we do in all our work on rice, we will be looking at the performance of the Golden Rice version of BRRI dhan29 over many generations, across different regions of Bangladesh, and in different seasons. “We want to be sure that Golden Rice grows just as well as the original, so farmers won’t have to give up higher yield, or pest resistance, or other attributes in order to help those most in need of a potentially healthy and filling meal,” he concluded. be important in designing plans for Golden Rice in other countries, too. Golden Rice offers a bright prospect for nutritionally enhanced crops to deliver on the promise of better nutrition. It could give Emma another nutritious food to rely on and a chance for her children and grandchildren to be healthier. With Emma and those like her serving as an inspiration, the Golden Rice project partners continue to work to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Golden Rice in the Philippines as another potential approach to fighting vitamin A deficiency.
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Source: Global Prevalence of Vitamin A Deficiency in Population at Risk 1995–2005: WHO Global Database on Vitamin A Deficiency (www.who.int/vmnis/en/)
1

Severity cutoffs based on serum or plasma retinol <0.70 mmol/L in preschool-age children (mild: >2–<10%; moderate: >10–20%; severe: >20%.

No. 8, Series of 2002, are based on these international guidelines. PhilRice and BRRI will submit all safety information to their respective national government regulators, which may be as early as 2013 in the Philippines and later in Bangladesh. Regulators will review these data as part of the approval process for Golden Rice before it can be released to farmers and consumers.
EmmA'S SOn sprinkles salt on his rice to add a little flavor.

Can Golden Rice make a difference? Dr. Gerard Barry, Golden Rice network coordinator and IRRI’s Golden Rice project leader, shared that his team has been working on Golden Rice since 2006 to develop a safe and effective way to deal with vitamin A deficiency, prevent blindness, and save lives. “Our latest stage of work is now supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,ˮ he said. “Helen Keller International, a leading nutrition organization, will also be involved to assess the efficacy of Golden Rice.ˮ If the safety of Golden Rice is confirmed, HKI, with university partners, will conduct some studies to see whether Golden Rice could help improve vitamin A status among deficient populations. PhilRice and BRRI are breeding the Golden Rice trait into other rice varieties that are locally adapted and popular with farmers, matching their yields and other performance factors. Golden Rice seeds and grains will be available in the market and are expected to cost farmers and consumers the same as other rice. Cooking and taste tests will likewise help make sure these qualities of Golden Rice meet consumers’ needs. The experience gained in developing, evaluating, and planning the delivery of Golden Rice in the Philippines and Bangladesh will
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

A consumer’s to rice

Guide

Story and photos by John R. Leeper

a

long time ago, I was told, “Rice is to Asians what wine is to Europeans.” Wine is linked to Europe’s culture and cuisines as closely as rice is to Asia’s. Both rice and wine have myriad differences, but both are influenced by the environmental conditions under which the crop is grown. Each domesticated rice variety has qualities or traits that differentiate it from all others. Grain shape Rice grains can be round to long, straight, or curved. They can be short, medium, and long. A simple way to determine a rice variety’s length is to place a grain vertically beside grains of the same variety that are stacked on their sides. Then count the number of grain widths it takes to equal a grain’s length. This method works for unhulled, dehulled, and milled grains alike. When the length of the grain is no more than twice its width, it is short grained. Medium-grain rice is characterized by its length being between two and three times its width. And, long-grain rice has a length more than three times its width.

A

B

C

A. Short b. medium C. long

Parboiled rice Parboiling is a method of partially cooking or gelatinizing the rice grain in its hull. For millers, gelatinization helps mend the grain’s cracks and fissures, and this improves the head rice or whole grain milling rate. Parboiling also transfers some of the nutrients from the outer germ layer, which is milled away, to make polished or white rice, into the endosperm. Milled parboiled rice tends to have a slight yellowish or tannish color. It also tends to take a little more water and cooking time. When cooked, parboiled rice is less sticky than its nonparboiled counterpart.

Milling quality Rice quality also depends on milling. The milling process involves more than whitening or polishing—the mechanical removal of the pericarp from the endocarp. It begins with cleaning the paddy or harvested grain. This step may be followed by parboiling. Finally, the bran is milled from the grain. On average, with modern milling equipment, dehusking removes 20% of the paddy weight. An additional 10% is removed after milling, leaving 70% of the original weight. Modern rice mills also use sophisticated sorting machines that separate broken, chalky, speckled, and off-

30

Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

color grains from the whole-grain head rice. A head rice output of 55% to 60% is considered good for modern equipment. In many areas around the world, rice is packaged and labeled according to grade, variety, percent of broken, and off-color grains present. White-rice quality increases with the number of times the grain passes through the mill and more starch layers are removed. This is an important aspect in making sake, a Japanese rice wine for which the liquor’s quality is judged on the number of milling cycles, among other factors. Grain color When milled, rice varieties produce white grain. Brown rice, also known as husked rice or cargo rice, is unmilled, has the bran attached to the grain, and is one of the healthiest forms of rice to eat. A majority of the vitamins in rice are in the bran and are lost with milling. Rice is milled because the oils in the bran readily oxidize, turn rancid, and impart an offflavor. Storing brown rice in the freezer will slow the process of rancidification. Rice bran oil is one of the healthiest plant oils and is high in heart-healthy tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are members of the vitamin E family. Rice bran oil extracted by some modern mills can be used in high-quality cooking oil, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The bran is also used as animal feed and would be an excellent source of vitamins and fiber if the oil could be stabilized. Rice starch Amylose and amylopectin are the two basic starches that make up the rice endosperm. Amylose molecules are lightly branched chains of glucose monomers. Amylopectin, on the other hand, is made up of branching chains of the glucose molecule and is more easily digested than amylose. Long-grain rice typically has more amylose and is less

sticky than medium- and short-grain rice, which tend to have progressively higher amylopectin content. Sticky or glutinous rice has no or a negligible amount of amylose. Rice is gluten-free and is considered hypoallergenic. Rice starch can be milled into flour or used in making everything from cosmetics to tablets. Rice starch granules are particularly good for making puddings, confections, and gravies, for which smoothness and texture are important. Cooked rice may also be enzymatically digested to produce rice syrup, or it can be fermented to produce alcohol. Sake is the most famous of the rice-based alcoholic beverages. enriched and fortified rice Packaged rice may be labeled as either enriched or fortified. These represent two methods of adding back the vitamins and minerals that are lost in the milling process, which produces white or polished rice. Enriched rice is simply rice overcoated with vitamins and minerals. It is recommended not to wash enriched rice because this removes these vitamins and minerals. Fortified rice is made by blending vitamins and minerals with rice flour and extruding the dough through a granulator to create an artificial rice grain. These vitamins and minerals are then blended with the milled rice at a ratio of normally one or two fortified grains per hundred grains of milled rice. Fortified rice can be washed prior to cooking without a significant loss of vitamins and minerals. Cooked rice No single method of cooking rice works well for all varieties and cuisines. The optimum amounts of ingredients, temperature, and time allowed for cooking will vary with the variety, with

the food being prepared, and with the equipment and method of cooking. Other ingredients, such as milk and cream, can be added before, during, or after cooking to add color, flavor, or texture. When I was a child, my mother cooked rice on the stove in a special rice pot with a double lip. A crust of brown, crispy, partially caramelized rice would frequently form at the bottom of the pot. This layer was called “koge” (pronounced “ko-gay”), Japanese for burned, and was a favored childhood delicacy. Unfortunately, with the modern rice cookers, koge rice is a thing of the past. Packaged precooked rice dishes, now in the market, need to be reheated only by placing the package in boiling water or the microwave. The taste of rice The taste of rice is the marriage of two senses: flavor and texture. A majority of rice varieties are nonaromatic and have subtle flavors that do not rely on aroma. Aromatic rice varieties, on the other hand, derive much of their distinctive flavor from the mixture of volatile chemicals. Cooked rice can run a wide gamut of textures. It can be waxy, firm, sticky, smooth, or creamy. At times, I’m asked what my favorite rice variety is. I always reply that I have no favorite; it depends upon what I am eating. Just as Basmati or Jasmine rice will not make good sushi or donburi, Nihonbare rice does not make the best Biryani rice, a popular Indian dish, or khao pad gai, a Thai rice dish. Each variety was developed for a consumer within a specific culture and cuisine. This being said, it gets down to personal preferences. Does this not hold true for wine as well? Dr. Leeper is rice technology leader for RiceCo International, Inc.

Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

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Rice facts

What does this mean for global rice food security?
by Samarendu Mohanty

Seven billion and counting:
Production and population index (1961 = 100) 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Year

W

orld population is projected to reach 7 billion by the end of this month (October 2011). Unfortunately, this historic moment arrives when the world has serious concern about future global food security. In the past 4 years, the world witnessed two food price spikes with greater price volatility that has affected millions of poor people. The factors underlying rising food prices are decelerating productivity growth coupled with greater occurrence of extreme weather, and the effects have been magnified by inward-looking domestic and trade policies of the major rice-growing countries. In addition, rice prices have been highly volatile in recent years, moving up and down by US$50 to $100 per ton in a matter of weeks in response to various fundamental and speculative factors. In the past few months alone, rice prices increased by more than $100 per ton primarily in anticipation of a possible reintroduction of the rice mortgage program in Thailand. Rising food security concerns Many Asian countries faced acute food shortages and struggled to feed their rapidly expanding population because of frequent famine and drought before the beginning of the Green Revolution in the late 1960s. Africa’s health and nutrition status then was even slightly better than that of Asia. The life expectancy of most people in Asian countries was less than 50 years and infant mortality was unbelievably high, at 125–150 deaths per 1,000 births, compared with 100–300 deaths per 1,000 births in Africa. The Green Revolution’s first product—high-yielding semi-dwarf rice variety IR8—and the release of more than 1,000 additional modern varieties in the next half century changed the landscape of the entire Asian continent. During this period, global paddy rice
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Price (uS$/ton) 2,500 2,000 1,500

Production Population

1,000

Prices ($)

500 0

2005 2010

Fig. 1. global rice production and population versus rice prices (1961-2010). Data sources: FAO, United Nations, and World Bank.

production more than doubled from 312 million tons in 1970-71 to 677 million tons in 2010-11. Rice production growth has been so strong that it exceeded population growth during the entire Green Revolution era, which caused rice prices to decline by more than 70% (Fig. 1). Now, the health and nutrition status of the Asian population is much better than what it was before the Green Revolution. Beyond the agricultural sector, lower rice prices during the Green Revolution era kept the wage rate low, contributing to faster overall growth of the Asian economy. The transformation of Asian countries from food deficit to self-sufficiency enabled them to use foreign exchange for infrastructure and other development activities rather than using it for food imports. Overall, the Green Revolution was a resounding success in expanding food production and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of poor people despite many criticisms on environmental and land degradation caused by the excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation water; groundwater pollution; and erosion of genetic diversity.
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

However, the annual yield growth rate of rice in the last decade has dropped to less than 1% compared with 2–3% during the Green Revolution period of 1967-90. With effects of the Green Revolution fading, the debate on rising hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity is taking center stage once again. Two food price spikes in the past 4 years have shaken the foundation of global food security and concern has been raised as to whether the global food system can feed the world population, which is estimated to reach 9 billion in 2050. Talks on food security now find their way onto the agenda of many global and regional forums such as G8, G20, the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Food security experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders call for another Green Revolution. However, everyone realizes that the approach adopted that led to the success of the first Green Revolution may not be applicable now. This time around, we need to think

about 7 billion hungry mouths—twice the population the world had in the late 1960s that marked the beginning of the Green Revolution. During the first Green Revolution, many Asian countries aimed at achieving rice self-sufficiency by encouraging farmers to expand production through subsidized inputs and assured markets for their products. Farmers responded by adopting input-responsive highyielding modern varieties and bringing additional land into crop production. In the past 5 decades, nearly 25% of the production growth has come from area expansion, whereas 75% has come from yield growth. Area expansion, which includes both physical area and greater cropping intensity on the same piece of land, was made possible because of better infrastructure and the development of short-duration varieties. To continue this trend is not a viable option for most Asian rice-growing countries, where additional land is no longer available and pressure on the existing rice land from urbanization and other nonagricultural uses is growing rapidly. This is particularly true for China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, which account for nearly 70% of global rice production and consumption. For example, China’s rice area has declined by more than 5 million hectares (15%) in the past 3 decades and the downtrend may continue in the future. Although a similar downtrend has not been evident in other rice-growing countries in the region because of government interventions, it is hard to foresee how governments can continue with such interventions in the face of rising costs, water shortages, and growing pressure from competing sectors. The few exceptions could be countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar, which were left out of the Green Revolution for varying reasons but they could be stimulated to expand rice production by developing infrastructure and providing better market linkages. Toward a stable future The future of global rice food security depends on the strategies of the major rice-growing countries in Asia. If these rice-growing countries decide to pursue

self-sufficiency, opportunity will be less for any structural transformation of the global rice market, keeping it volatile with frequent price spikes in years of tight supply. However, if these countries send a clear signal to the world of their long-term food security strategy and their intention to depend on the global rice market for a certain percentage of their domestic consumption, a massive change in the global rice industry could be on the horizon. Their intention should be reflected in the form of fewer trade restrictions such as an export ban, and minimum export or import prices, and allowing private traders to take charge of exports and imports rather than state trading agencies. This will allow investment to flow into countries endowed with land and water to take advantage of the growing rice market. The change in the global soybean market 3 decades ago may provide a clue as to what could happen in the rice market. In the soybean market, the United States used to be a big guy on the block. The country represented around 80% of world production and 95% of total exports during the 1960s and 1970s. The ban on soybean exports imposed by the U.S. in the early 1970s altered the entire landscape of soybean production and trade when other countries started looking for alternative suppliers. China, Japan, and the European Union invested heavily in developing

infrastructure in South America. And, in 2 decades, two South American neighbors, Argentina and Brazil, emerged as formidable competitors to the U.S. in the world soybean market. Now, these countries account for around half of the global soybean trade. The emergence of many dependable suppliers also convinced many countries, including China, Japan, the European Union countries, Taiwan, South Korea, and others, to liberalize their oilseed sector. For example, China has imported 52 million tons in 201011. This is 79% of the total domestic consumption, which is in stark contrast to its negligible imports until 1990. Similar to the soybean transformation, potential exists for expansion of rice production in subSaharan Africa (SSA) and Latin America. Many SSA countries have land and water but they could not realize their full potential because of political instability, poor infrastructure, and inefficient supply chains. These constraints have kept paddy yields in many SSA countries much lower than in their Asian counterparts (Fig. 2). At the same time, many Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay can expand rice production as long as a market is available for their rice and it is more profitable than competing crops such as soybean, cotton, and wheat.

Yield (t/ha) 12 10

Asian countries
8 6 4 2
yp t St at es Ch in a Vi et na m In do ne s Ba ng ia la de sh Br az M ya il nm ar Su da Ph ilip n pi ne s Pa ki st an In d Th ia ai la nd

African countries

Country

Fig. 2. Average paddy yields (2005–06-2009–10). Data source: FAOSTAT (2011).
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

un

M al i bo di a Ta nz an ia Ni ge Si ria er ra L M oz eon am e bi qu e Co ng o Ca m

0

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ite

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Grain of truth

Clash of the Titans:
by Shenggen Fan
ccording to recent estimates by the United Nations, the world population will reach 7 billion in October 2011, and this number could rise to 9 billion by 2050 (see Monitoring an inconvenient divergence on page 4). Nearly all of the growth—97%— is projected to come from developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia. Demand for rice is now growing faster than rice production. If nothing is done to ensure consistent and adequate rice supplies, the price of rice will continue to rise.

Global population Food production
versus
Global rice demand is expected to rise in the coming decades, albeit in different amounts across regions, mainly due to population growth, rising incomes, urbanization, and changing food preferences
significantly improve the nutrition of poor consumers. To ensure environmental sustainability, technologies for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in rice production should be promoted since rice production is one of the largest agricultural sources of methane emissions. Although technology is a must to meet the increasing demand for rice, technology alone is not enough. Policy and market incentives are also needed to promote production growth, especially among small farmers. Investments are needed to improve small farmers’ access to high-yielding seeds and fertilizer, as well as to encourage them to diversify into high-value commodities or nonfarm activities. To help them cope with risks that stem from weather shocks, innovative risk management mechanisms, such as weather-based index insurance, must be strongly promoted. Access to financial services is also crucial for smallholder farmers, and emerging initiatives such as community banking have proved helpful. To enable small farmers to participate profitably in global rice supply chains, they need to be linked to high-value markets. Institutional innovations such as farmer associations and contract farming schemes can help reduce market transaction costs and increase access to information. Investments in rural infrastructure will also be crucial to enhance the efficiency and profitability of the rice supply chain. In the trade arena, national governments must refrain from imposing export bans that tighten food markets and dampen production incentives. Strategic rice reserves such as the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve are critical to ensure that the poor have access to adequate food, especially during emergencies. To successfully meet the food needs of a rapidly growing population, the implementation of these actions is imperative. Dr. Fan is the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

a

Rice supply and population growth

Asia represents about 90% of global rice production and consumption. It is also home to many millions of poor and hungry people who depend on rice for most of their calorie requirements. Many of them are poor farmers who not only consume rice but also grow it on small plots of less than 2 hectares. In fact, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reports that nearly two-thirds of the world’s poor live in rice-producing areas in Asia. Current trends in population growth are expected to push this share even higher. Africa also has significant rice consumption and a large number of poor people. Global rice demand is expected to rise in the coming decades, albeit in different amounts across regions. These changes in demand are mainly due to population growth, rising incomes, urbanization, and changing food preferences. At the global level, per capita rice consumption may become flat, but will increase in Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas while it will decline in some Asian countries that are experiencing diet shifts due to higher incomes and urbanization. Rice production, on the other hand, has slowed down, thus tightening rice supplies. Production growth has lagged for several reasons, including stagnant or declining crop yields, underinvestment in agricultural research and development, increasing land and water constraints for agriculture, increased input costs, and increased labor costs due to urbanization
34

and industrialization. In the coming years, climate change is expected to put additional pressure on rice production systems, further tightening rice supplies. The surges in food prices in 200708 and 2010-11 and the rapid depletion of global food stocks reveal that the world is increasingly vulnerable to food shortages or crises. As the populations of rice-producing and -consuming regions expand rapidly, concrete actions must be taken to boost production and secure rice supplies, especially for the millions of poor people who reside in these regions.

What must be done?

Asia’s experience during the Green Revolution—when the introduction of improved rice varieties led to higher rice yields and output—shows that technology is the key to spurring rapid growth in rice production. In addition to bridging the gap between demand and supply, rice productivity growth will also have large poverty reduction impacts as many rice producers are poor small farmers that depend on rice production for their livelihoods. New technologies, including postharvest technologies, must be rolled out continually on a large scale to achieve these impacts. Recent strides in rice technology development and delivery are promising. Rice hybrids that are high-yielding, resistant to pests and diseases, and tolerant of environmental stresses are being developed and are increasingly available to farmers. Around 20 million hectares of hybrid rice are now grown globally, with the largest share, 85%, grown in China, according to IRRI. Biofortified rice, enriched with micronutrients such as vitamin A and zinc, has also been developed and has large potential to
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2011

gOOD quAlITy, right quantity, appropriate variety, and proper timing of availability are crucial elements of ensuring seed security.

Seeds of life in Nepal
by digna Manzanilla and david Johnson

Farmers in Nepal are producing enough quality seeds to ensure good harvests and sufficient food on the table

L

axima Adhikari, a farmer in Nepal, used to suffer from an unstable supply of seeds, especially when drought affected her crops. Now, she boasts of bountiful harvests from rice and vegetable crops grown during the winter season. What caused this transformation? In Nepal, more than 70% of the population depends on rice for livelihood. Half of the cultivated areas are planted with rice, which is grown on 1.48 million hectares, 27% of which are in midhills and mountains, and the rest are in foothills and plains (terai). Although rice is a staple food, the supply of good seeds is limited. The country needs almost 80,000 tons of seed annually but only 9% is supplied by private seed companies and national
1

agencies1 and these seeds are usually from the farmers’ produce. Farmers therefore risk poor harvests because of low-quality seeds, often combined with a lack of inputs and inappropriate crop management practices. Only 70% of the farming communities usually achieve food security for more than half of the year. If environmental conditions turn unfavorable, only 30% of the communities have enough rice on the table.2 Ensuring good-quality seeds for a more stable and sustainable supply is therefore a challenge.

A fitting beginning

In 2005, a participatory research project (IFAD-TAG 706) began to tackle food security and environmental sustainability

in marginal uplands. It was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in partnership with the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS). The project selected the Sundarbazar Village Development Committee (VDC) in Lamjung District in midhills (900–1,500 meters above sea level) as a key research site. Farmer field trials, farmer acceptance tests, varietal demonstrations, and minikit programs allowed farmers to test promising rice varieties obtained from IRRI and the National Rice Research Program (NRRP). The farmers were interested in varieties that produce high yield, resist drought, have good cooking and eating quality, tolerate pests and diseases, and command a better price in the market.

2

Sah SN. Rice Research and Development Program in Nepal. Paper presented at the 10th CURE Steering Committee Meeting and Minisymposium on seed systems, 19-21 April 2011, Kathmandu, Nepal. Results of household surveys at the project sites in 2007-08 conducted by the project team. Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science.

Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2012

Joe iBaBao

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Within a short time, four upland rice varieties (Radha-32, Ghaiya-2, IR55435-5, and Pakhejhinuwa) and six for lowland rice (Radha-4, Ram Dhan, Barkhe-3017, Sunaulo sugandha, Barkhe-2024, and NR-1824-21-1-1) were identified as superior to local lines. These were ready for dissemination during the third year of the project in six more villages with similar agroclimatic conditions in Lamjung, Tanahun, and Gorkha districts.

The community has the answer

Word went around that new varieties were available, and requests from farmers came pouring in. What was needed, however, was a viable seed system that could provide a timely and adequate seed supply of goodquality and suitable varieties. With no private seed companies or a government program to provide the much-needed seeds, the project team embarked on a community-based seed production program to meet this challenge. The team could not have chosen a better time: the farmers were very receptive to the idea of forming their own seed production system. Years of lack of seed supplies became a driving force for farmers to act together. As a result, the Sundar Seed Cooperative, Ltd., became the first seed producers’ group (SPG)

in Sundarbazar, Lamjung, in 2007. “Our dream is to produce enough quality seeds to ensure good harvests and sufficient food on the table,” said Krishna Prasad Siluwal, first chairperson of Sundar Seed Cooperative. And, more importantly, the program allows farmers to preserve their time-honored and socioeconomically significant varieties in the villages. This SPG produced 4 tons of seeds in the first year, 20 tons the following year with about 1,000 farmer-buyers, and 30 tons in the third year. Its members hope to serve at least 3,000 farmers. As more farmers see the performance of new varieties, demand for seeds increases. Unfortunately, the cooperative can meet only 11% of the total demand for seeds in the villages of Lamjung and neighboring districts. “We not only hope for ourselves; we also aspire to help other farmers in the same predicament,” said Khila Sharma Bagale, Pragati SPG president. “There is unity in poverty, but we are determined to break this cycle and rise, given opportunities.”

Capturing the ripple effect

Not long after the IFAD project (TAG 706) finished in 2009, the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) continued the work. A good model for development
BisHnu adHiKaRi

bIShnu bIlAS Adhikari and other field staff members discussing with farmers the importance of seed health management.

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Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2012

gRanT singleTon

DR. DAVID Johnson, CuRE coordinator, is warmly welcomed by villagers in nepal.

should not end with the project. Lessons learned should be replicated as hundreds of thousands of farmers are in need of good seeds of new and improved stress-tolerant varieties. Stephan Haefele, CURE working group leader for drought-prone rice environments, suggested that new varieties be validated in varying environments. “We are hoping that this [validation] would speed up variety release and wide-scale adoption of farmer-preferred varieties.” So, in 2010, under the auspices of CURE, the project partners formed seven new SPGs in seven villages in Lamjung, Tanahun, and Gorkha districts. In these villages, more and more farmers see the fruits of their labor as they participate in seed production of upland rice, legumes, oilseed crops, and vegetable crops. In 2010, all seven SPGs and the two cooperatives produced a total of 169 tons of seed (14 tons of upland rice and 155 tons of lowland rice). The Sundar Seed Cooperative is the center for seed production, collection, and distribution. It collected and sold 20% of the farmers’ total production.

Women not to be outdone

Following the success of the first SPG, the Purkot Seed Producers’ Group (now, Pragati SPG) was established in 2008 under the leadership of a progressive farmer, Mrs. Gita Pandey, in Tanahun District. Then, the Harrabot Ladies’ Seed Producers’ Group was formed in 2010 through the initiative of Laxima Adhikari. She remarked, “When I observed that men were

doing well in their seed production, I was challenged, and thought that what men can do, we can do better. “Now, we can help our husbands earn income without affecting our household chores since we do farming activities mostly in our own backyard or on nearby farms,” she added. The women saw opportunities in leadership training activities through the project. Since then, they learned to grow other crops and their families can now eat a variety of off-season crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, and leafy vegetables. Millet and maize that used to replace rice on the table are now feeds for livestock and poultry. Beekeeping and goat raising have also been constant sources of additional income.

Varieties for varying markets

The seed producers’ groups have been a regular means for CURE to introduce new varieties to the communities. And, participatory varietal selection (PVS) approaches showcased the performance of new varieties and revealed what farmers prefer in a variety. In Purkot Village, farmers prefer Radha-4, a rainfed lowland rice; Ghaiya-1 and Sukha-2, drought-tolerant upland rice; and Sabitri for irrigated conditions. Rainfed varieties fast becoming popular are Radha-4, Sukha-1,

Sukha-2, and Hardinath-1. Farmers also maintain their local traditional varieties such as Pakhejhinuwa and Ratothanter. These traditional varieties are preferred for their resistance to pests and diseases, resilience to changing weather conditions, and values related to their cultural heritage and consumer preferences. Aside from considering agronomic traits, farmers segment their rice market based on consumer preferences. The “fine grains” have the highest price. These are the fine, aromatic long grains, with good eating quality. However, these usually have low milling recovery (around 65%) and a high percentage of broken grains. The “medium” ones have short and thin grains, whereas the “coarse” grains are “rough on the throat” when swallowed and not as palatable as the first two types. The rough types are also preferred because of their “semi-dwarf” traits, nonlodging, and good grain and straw yields. Farmers buy seeds for their different land types and toposequence; they want more varieties to choose from for varying agroclimatic, social, and economic reasons. Also, farmers prefer short-duration varieties so they can grow other crops. Quality seeds have a “savings function.” When farmers need cash

to pay for their children’s school fees, medical needs, and other emergency expenses, they sell their seeds.

Seed security is food security

The availability of good-quality seeds means food security. No seeds, no harvest. This is especially true for communities affected by calamities. The seed producers’ groups can provide a security blanket for farmers seeking timely availability of quality seeds. At first, farmers could not believe that new varieties could improve their low production as they had mostly been producing traditional varieties such as Eakle, Jarnali, Madishe, Mana muri, Jhinuwa, and Mansara. These varieties are low yielding (1.5–2.0 tons per hectare). Usually, a farm household has three small patches for a total of 0.6 hectare. So, a small increase in yield is already considered life-changing. According to the more than 60 farmers from both Sundar Seed Cooperative, Ltd., and Pragati SPG, they were able to increase their yield by at least 40% when they used improved rice varieties. Most say that they doubled their yields (3.15–5.0 tons per hectare) compared to previous varieties used. Moreover, they now have many varietal options. These farmers can now eat rice yearJoe iBaBao (3)

WOmEn ARE becoming more active in community seed producers’ groups and as seed-keepers of popular varieties.

Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2012

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round and grow winter vegetables with hopes of overcoming food insecurity. Seed exchanges and information sharing among farmers have improved. Women are more active now than before in farming. Farmers are also expanding rice production to lands that they had abandoned during drought periods.

Government support
Mr. Bihod Kumar Shrestha, a DADO extension officer in Tanahun, said, “We are keen on supporting the producers’ groups. “The government provides a seed subsidy at 25% to the farmers’ groups for foundation seeds, just enough to pump prime their activities,” he added. “DADO provides training on quality seed production, seed storage, methods to increase yield, controlling pests and diseases, and seed quality control,” Mr. Shrestha further explained. Seeds are labeled as “truthful” seeds after evaluation and inspection. Further, DADO selects farmers who become seed inspectors. To develop the program, each year, DADO will support a farmers’ cooperative with Rp60,000 (US$1,100) for its revolving fund and Rp50,000 ($940) for its machinery.

A model for improving livelihood

There is no single recipe in forming viable seed producers’ groups, but the experience in Nepal provides some guide. Based on a training needs assessment, these farmers are trained in seed production, seed health management, and testing of new varieties in their fields. The training can also be combined with training on vegetable crops, livestock production, and other livelihood programs. Farmers gain access to foundation seeds so they can produce seeds that are sold to other farmers. The District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) and CURE staff members provide guidance on quality assurance services. But, the whole process depends on a “community guarantee system,” which is anchored on trust and on group pressure to ensure adherence to certain “quality standards.” This way, the Sundar Seed Cooperative and the Hariyali Seed Cooperative can define the system and conditions in cleaning, drying, tagging, packing, pricing, and labeling their seed produce.

DR. DIgnA manzanilla, IRRI social scientist, talks with women farmers about their role in the development of a seed producers' group in the community.

on responsibilities themselves, including women as a source of unprecedented support,” Prof. Bishnu said. Prof. Bishnu, together with agricultural economist Hari Krishna Panta, horticulturist Kishor Chandra Dahal, and soil scientist Janma Jaya Gairhe, form a remarkable multidisciplinary team to provide farmers with technical assistance. The team often travels to the sites, usually on their motorbikes to reach even the most remote villages. Of the nine farmers’ groups, four leaders are retired school teachers, whereas others are farmer-volunteers. All have dedicated their time and share a vision to supply affordable and easily accessible seeds to the poor farmers.

From a single step to a giant leap

A circle of local champions
Just like in other successful development efforts, local champions empower communities to provide links to local support systems. Scientists from IAAS, led by Bishnu Bilas Adhikari, assistant professor and agronomist (who serves as a local CURE coordinator), have been a major driving force of the project. “Farmers are becoming more familiar with the program, and are taking
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CURE aims to expand the geographic coverage of seed producers’ groups by targeting new strategic locations in Nepal. New SPG sites will be identified to take advantage of the “ripple effect” of benefits to farmers within a particular geographical reach. With the increasing number of new stress-tolerant varieties being released in many countries, CURE is working toward bringing its products to the doors of millions of farmers. Farmers in Nepal and in many Asian countries need access to new varieties and technologies, and a community-based seed system that provides a mechanism to link “stress-tolerant seeds” to “food on the table.”

(L-R) SOIl SCIEnTIST Janma Jaya gairhe, Prof. bishnu Adhikari, farmer leader Chandra Prasad Pokhrel, cooperative member Sudip Kanta Adhikari, agricultural economist hari Krishna Panta, and ms. Sudha Sapkota of the nepal Agricultural Research Council. Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2012

Dr. Manzanilla is a social scientist and Dr. Johnson is a senior weed scientist at IRRI. They are both working under CURE as associate coordinator and coordinator, respectively.

IRRI Super Bags go commercial
n airtight, reusable plastic bag that protects stored rice from moisture, pests, and rats, and keeps rice seeds viable, is now available to Filipino farmers in selected retail stores. IRRI Super Bags reduce losses incurred after harvest that usually stem from poor storage conditions— helping prevent physical postharvest losses that can be around 15%. On top of these losses, farmers also experience loss in quality. Developed by IRRI’s postharvest experts, in collaboration with GrainPro Inc., the IRRI Super Bag is meant for small-scale rice farmers to protect the viability and quality of rice stored in their homes. “ThE SuPER bag prolongs the shelf life of stored grains,” says martin gummert, IRRI postharvest expert. The IRRI Super Bag is manufactured by GrainPro Inc. and is my harvest for the second planting marketed as SuperGrainbag™. IRRI, into his paddy (unmilled rice) stored season of 2010. After keeping my through its national partnerships, has in ordinary sacks in his house. harvest in the IRRI Super Bags for verified the benefits After attending a 10 months, the seeds were 100% of the IRRI Super seminar in a nearby viable, and none were wasted.” Bag with tens of town introducing The commercialization Martin Gummert, head of the thousands of farmers the IRRI Super Bags of IRRI Super Bags is a IRRI postharvest unit, said that throughout Asia, to farmers in the partnerships with the public and but acknowledges Philippine Bicol leading example of the private sector are critical to rolling out the challenge of region, he decided public and private sector to test them. economically viable rice postharvest bringing the bags to technologies and that IRRI Super Bags millions of farmers “Before, a working together to get are a leading example of this in action. in a commercial way. 7-month storage technologies to farmers. caused my rice Tom de Bruin, GrainPro’s Philippine president and CEO, said that the farmer Manuel grains to break from bags will be available to farmers Luzentales Jr. has moisture and pest through a national retail network always wondered how to deal with infestations,” Mr. Luzentales recalls. with close to 200 outlets. rats and weevils gnawing their way “I tested the IRRI Super Bags on

A

Study supports nutritional value of Golden Rice

N

ew research from Tufts University, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that the beta carotene produced by Golden Rice is as good as beta carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 190

million preschool children and 19 million pregnant women are vitamin A-deficient globally. Beta carotene is converted by the human body to vitamin A as needed. It is commonly found in leafy green vegetables and fruits. Golden Rice also contains beta carotene, which other rice does not.
Reprinted from Rice Today October-December 2012

The study demonstrates that children, who are among those most vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency, could benefit from Golden Rice as a steady source of the nutrient. Golden Rice is not currently available and is still being developed and evaluated by the International Rice Research Institute and others.
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CHRis QuinTana

A

family of five cooks a kilogram of rice in a pot for breakfast. Somebody forgets about it and it burns—the rice at the bottom of the pot becomes almost inedible. The kids don’t finish their meals. Leftover rice is all over their plates and in the pot, which will sit in the kitchen for hours. At the end of the day, the family throws away a plastic bag full of burned and spoiled rice. This is how a family as well as many households and restaurants in the Philippines waste this highdemand political commodity, which feeds half of the world’s population. At first, this fact may not sit well with the Philippines’ annual per capita consumption of 120 kilograms, or about 5 cups, of rice per day. Why buy that much rice for the table when a significant amount is thrown away, taking with it all the nutrients and energy that rice can give? National Food Authority Administrator Angelito Banayo has a term for this behavior—takaw-tingin (literally, takaw pertains to gluttony, tingin means sight; the concept refers to impulse buying or acquiring at the sight of things desirable). But, what seems to be wrong with a few grains of rice left on the plate or in the pot? The devil is in the details.

That rice you

moises john c. reyes

Broken particles, discoloration, partial removal of the bran (due to undermilling), and black spots (due to insect damage)—such disturbances in this mix of rice kernels count as postharvest waste.

throw away
by Aileen Macalintal

Throwing it away

Research shows that the Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer for several years, wastes rice that is worth at least US$535,000 (23 million pesos) every day, or at least $223 million a year—enough to feed 4.3 million people. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), under the Department of Science and Technology, revealed these 2008 data, further noting that every Filipino wastes an average of 3 tablespoons (9 grams) of rice daily, which is equivalent to 3.3 kilograms per year. With 94 million people (National Statistics Office 2010) and 9 grams of wasted rice per day (FNRI 2008), the total wastage is 308,000 tons: 36% of the 2011 rice imports. Wasted grams per head actually vary in different regions across the Philippines. FNRI’s National
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Every year, millions of tons of rice are wasted; finding ways to prevent this loss could help the Philippines save rice
Nutrition Survey shows that on one of the three island groups of the Philippines, Luzon, daily rice and product wastage is 16 grams per capita and 12 grams each for the other two, Visayas and Mindanao. Also, middle-class families tend to waste more than low-income families. Apparently, the more people have, the more they waste. If the Philippine figures cause deep concern, global figures for “throwaways,” plus postharvest losses, can be alarming. losses and food waste,” revealed that a third of global food (1 billion tons) is wasted. Part of this is cereals (including rice). Losses in rice come from the unmilled grains through poor harvesting and postharvest activities, inefficient transportation, inadequate storage, wasteful processing, and market spoilage. The first rice wastage happens after harvesting. Cited in the report, losses during agricultural production happen when rice grains spill and degrade during handling, storage, and transportation between the farm and distribution to markets (wholesale, retail, supermarket, and wet markets).

Consumption, when the final wastage takes place, usually results in throwaways (due to “bad cooking”) or leftovers. “Perhaps one of the most important reasons for food waste at the consumption level in rich countries,” explained the FAO report, “is that people simply can afford to waste food.” How much food is lost and wasted in the world today and how can we prevent this? “These questions are impossible to answer precisely, and not much research is going on in this area,” lamented the report. With global population now more than 7 billion people and continuing to increase and food production having difficulty catching up, a lack of critical attention to this is surprising.

Preventing waste, saving lives

Chain of waste

A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study, “2011 Global food
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2012

Will it be hard to change the wasteful eating habits in the Philippines? According to Flordeliza Bordey, an economist at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), “If we look at the trend of the two FNRI surveys (2003 and 2008), it is not impossible to influence the seemingly wasteful eating behavior of Filipinos.” Campaigns on raising awareness can be a key to this.
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2012

Dr. Bordey, who is also the program leader of PhilRice’s impact evaluation, policy research, and advocacy, said that PhilRice launched a rice awareness campaign in 2011, as part of its celebration of rice awareness month (November). “The messages of this campaign are ‘eat your rice right’ and ‘save rice, save lives,’ which advocated reducing rice waste at the consumer level,” she added. The activities included a fun run, university visits, and Facebook blogs. According to Dr. Bordey, PhilRice proposes a similar campaign during the national year of rice in 2012. Approved by the Department of Agriculture, this campaign aims to reach out to more consumers. The hundred tons of rice wasted each year, not just in the Philippines but in the whole world, need to be taken seriously. Our social conscience will tell us that the rice we waste (or money, for that matter) can just be the very rice we need to feed the hungry and the undernourished. As research institutions take part in securing food for the next generations through high-yielding crops, consumers must also help solve problems in food scarcity through responsible consumption, so that everyone will have enough to eat.
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chris quintana

irri

Hybrids head for the tropics
by Alaric Francis Santiaguel and Lovely Merlicel Quipot
chris quintana

Hybrid rice could play an important role in food security, especially in poor countries in the tropics, where population is soaring and agricultural areas shrinking

mestiso 32, a tropical hybrid rice variety.

H

Heterosis for the tropics

Success in temperate hybrid rice accelerated research and development in tropical hybrid rice. This can be attributed to the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC). The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) took the lead in developing the technology for tropical rice-growing countries, and now several hybrids from the public and private sector are released and commercialized in India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

Latin hybrids

Breaking the limits

The HRDC continues to push the yield potential of tropical hybrid rice. In 2011, the Consortium
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Halfway across the globe, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) is also exploring hybrid rice technology as a new approach to increase rice productivity in Latin America. CIAT field-tested its first 19 experimental hybrids from basic germplasm from IRRI. The Center is looking for hybrids with high heterosis, resistance to diseases, good grain quality, and high suitability for the tropical conditions of many Latin American countries. “The results show some hybrids, such as CT23057H, with
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2012

isagani serrano

ybrid rice has the potential to produce up to 30% more yield than the best-performing modern inbred varieties, thanks to hybrid vigor or heterosis. In 2011, the media reported that, on a test plot in Hunan, China, an output of 13.9 tons per hectare had been achieved—potentially setting a new world record. Such is the potential of hybrid rice varieties to feed the world and its ever-growing population.

released three IRRI-bred tropical hybrids in the Philippines: Mestiso 30, Mestiso 31, and Mestiso 32. “These varieties have an average yield of 6.93 tons per hectare,” said Fangming Xie, hybrid rice breeder at IRRI and HRDC coordinator. “This is 6.5% higher than the average yield of 11 other Philippine hybrid varieties released in 2011.” New research on tropical hybrid rice is also under way, including increasing hybrid seed production; disease resistance; stress, drought, and flood tolerance; and better grain quality, among others.

NelsoN AmézquitA, agricultural engineer at Fedearroz, Colombia; Fangming Xie, hybrid rice breeder at iRRi; and edgar torres, rice breeder at CiAt-FlAR (left to right), inspect rice in iRRi's breeding plots for potential hybrid varieties that are suitable in latin American conditions.

good potential to be commercial products,” said Edgar Torres, plant breeder with CIAT’s Rice Program and the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR). “More trials are being conducted by FLAR partners in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic,” he added.

Widening the network

The HRDC not only strengthens its hybrid rice research and development at IRRI but also focuses on its collaboration and network with

private and public partners, thus expanding research areas with more products and bringing new resources, as well as valuable experience, to the hybrid rice community. In 2011, the HRDC had a total of 59 partners, up from only 38 in 2008. “The hybrid rice products developed by the HRDC, including more than 3,500 IRRI hybrid rice breeding germplasm accessions and hybrid rice parents, have been shared with Consortium members and the international hybrid rice community,” Dr. Xie reported. “This partnership

enhances the steady stream of innovation and improves product accessibility and commercial use ultimately by rice farmers.” Dr. Torres acknowledges the importance of sharing in making tropical hybrid rice a commercial reality. “The increased germplasm interchange with the HRDC has enabled us to produce hybrids with higher yield and good grain quality,” said Dr. Torres. “The collaboration effort between IRRI and CIAT is targeting the development of new technology relevant for the rice farmers in Latin America.”
Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2012

The future of tropical hybrids

The international hybrid rice community has grown rapidly in just 3 years. Where does it go from here? Dr. Yuan Longping, the “Father of Hybrid Rice,” is determined to develop a super high-yielding hybrid rice that could bring average yields to 15 tons per hectare by 2020 (see related story Q&A with the Father of Hybrid Rice on page 42-43). In time, through the sharing of germplasm, knowledge, and experience, researchers working on tropical hybrid rice could shoot for the same.
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Rice facts

rice self-sufficiency: the renewed mantra of domestic food security
by Samarendu Mohanty

T

he rice price spike in 2007-08 left a deep scar among many riceconsuming countries in Asia and Africa, where policymakers have since then been reluctant to depend on imported rice and have carried out various programs to achieve domestic food security through self-sufficiency. Major rice-deficit Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, have initiated a two-pronged approach to achieve rice self-sufficiency. On the one hand, various domestic programs have been rolled out to expand rice production. On the other hand, citizens have been urged to move away from rice to other staples. Efforts to reduce rice consumption have been tried for years in Indonesia without much success; instead, its per capita consumption has continued to rise. Whether the Indonesian government can convince consumers to replace rice with other staples is yet to be seen. Just like Indonesia, the Philippine government is also urging its citizens to reduce rice consumption. Many high-income importers, such as Malaysia and Brunei, are also keen to depend less on foreign rice. Rice-importing countries in sub-Saharan Africa (such as Nigeria and Ghana) are also trying to expand their domestic rice production and rely less on imported Asian rice. Exporters such as India and Thailand have also taken strong measures to expand domestic rice production in the last few years. In India, the minimum support price (the price at which the government purchases crops from the farmers) for rice made a quantum leap from 2007-08 to 2011-12 by more than 75%, whereas it took from 1994 to 2006 for the minimum support price to increase by a similar proportion (Fig. 1). From September 2007 to
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September 2011, India kept its export ban on nonbasmati rice to make sure that enough rice was available for domestic food security. Recently, the Indian government announced a 16% increase in the minimum support price for paddy for 2012-13 from 1,080 to 1,250 rupees (US$20–23 at the current exchange rate) per quintal (100 kilograms) for a common variety of rice. Similarly, the minimum guaranteed price for rice in Thailand (known as the mortgage price) has increased significantly in the last few years, with the latest hike in 2011 with the new Thai government raising the mortgage price for paddy to 15,000 baht ($471 at the current exchange rate) per ton, nearly 50% higher than the prevailing market price during that time.

Increased intervention: short-run effects

Greater support plus favorable weather in the major rice-growing countries in the last few years have resulted in nearly 4 million hectares of additional rice area
Price (rupees per ton) 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0

and more than 45 million tons of paddy rice production being added globally from 2007-08 to 2011-12. Global rice stocks leapfrogged by more than 30% from 75 to 100 million tons during this period. The Indian situation, in particular, has changed dramatically in the last few years. As of 1 June 2012, Indian rice procurement stocks had reached more than 32 million tons against a desired buffer of around 12 million tons (Fig. 2), despite India’s export of around 4 million tons of nonbasmati rice since the removal of its export ban in September 2011. Unlike India, Thailand’s exports have been hampered by its mortgage scheme, which makes its rice noncompetitive in the global market. This has resulted in a record stock that is piling up in Thailand to the tune of 15 million tons of paddy rice (equivalent to 10 million tons of milled rice). Overall, India’s entry into nonbasmati rice has taken the market by storm and has transformed it from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. It seems like there is plenty of rice to

Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2012

19 81 19 82 83 19 84 85 19 86 87 19 88 89 19 90 91 -9 19 2 93 19 94 95 -9 19 6 97 19 -9 99 8 -2 0 20 00 01 -0 20 2 03 20 04 05 -0 20 6 07 20 08 09 20 10 11 -1 2
years Fig. 1. Indian paddy minimum support price for a common variety of rice.
Source: IndiaStat.com

go around and threats to global food security seem to be a thing of the past. Unlike India and Thailand, the top three rice-importing countries—Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines—haven’t fared well despite their efforts to expand their domestic production and reduce their dependence on imported rice. Since the 2007-08 rice crisis, rice production in these countries has moved sideways. This is reflected in the rise in Indonesian and Nigerian imports in the last few years (Fig. 3). In the Philippines, however, imports have steadily declined, after reaching their peak of 2.6 million tons in 2008-09, to 1.5 million tons in 2011-12. This steady decline in rice imports has been partly possible because of drawing down the stocks from 4.7 million tons in 2008-09 to 1.8 million tons in 2011-12. Indonesia trends on the same path, where ending stocks have declined from 7 million tons to less than 5 million tons during the same period.

the prices have to move in response to any supply and demand shock. In a year of low production, prices will rise rapidly; in a year of higher production, prices will fall rapidly with greater volatility. This is particularly worrisome since rice production can fluctuate greatly from year to year, at the whim of nature. And, if climate change predictions are realized, extreme weather conditions will be more frequent, leading to regular price spikes in the rice market. It may sound odd for someone to argue against the self-sufficiency policy pursued by many rice-importing countries after the 2007-08 rice crisis that caused riots and protests in different parts of the developing world. What makes a strong case for importers to seek self-sufficiency is the current structure of the global market, where some of the big exporters
million tons 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Buffer norms strategic reserve Rice stocks

are residual suppliers to the market because they are primarily growing rice for domestic food security and export is an afterthought to dispose of surplus rice. This is exactly what India did in October 2011—relaxing the export ban on nonbasmati rice after a lapse of nearly 4 years, primarily to tackle rising procurement stocks. A strong global market is essential to achieve global food security for rice. This does not mean that countries should give up rice production and depend on foreign rice. Every country has the basic right to produce enough food for its citizens and this is particularly true for rice, a staple for the world’s poorest of the poor. However, countries might be wiser to try to increase production by improving yield in a sustainable manner rather than pursuing self-sufficiency at any cost.

Self-sufficiency: longrun implications

Overall, higher government support and relaxation of India’s export ban on nonbasmati rice appear to have eased the market situation and stabilized prices because of an adequate rice supply in the market. In fact, another good harvest this season could further lower the price. However, in the long run, major rice-consuming countries that pursue self-sufficiency may be in danger. If these countries achieved self-sufficiency, import demand for rice would fall. This would push exporters, such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan, to cut back on their production to reduce exportable surplus and use their lands in planting other profitable crops. The global rice market, which is relatively small compared with that of other major crops such as wheat, corn (maize), and soybeans, is likely to become even smaller if rice-consuming countries vigorously pursue selfsufficiency. A consequence of a smaller market is greater price volatility and, the smaller the market size, the more

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Fig. 3. Rice imports by top three rice importers.
Source: PSD, USDA (accessed on 2 June 2012)

Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2012

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Ja n2 0 m 05 ay se 05 p Ja 05 n0 m 6 ay se 06 p Ja 06 n m 07 ay se 07 p Ja 07 n m 08 ay se 08 p Ja 08 n m 09 ay se 09 p Ja 09 n m 10 ay se 10 p Ja 10 n1 m 1 ay se 11 p Ja 11 n m 12 ay 12
date Fig. 2. Indian procurement stocks (actual vs buffer and strategic reserve).
Source: Food Corporation of India

million tons 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0

indonesia nigeria Philippines

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What’s cooking?
Sakkarai Pongal tamil confection a tasty
aseema Banu, spouse of Dr. Jauhar Ali, a scientist in the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division at the International Rice Research Institute, and a pharmacist herself (she is a life member of the Indian Council of Pharmacy), makes this scrumptious snack for family and guests. “Pongal,” she says, “is a harvest festival widely celebrated by Tamil farmers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and also in Sri Lanka to give thanks to the sun god for the abundance of their harvest.” Pongal, which also marks the first day of Tamizh on the Tamil calendar, means “boiling or spilling over” in the Tamil language. The expression refers to the preparation of Pongal rice, a porridge dish unique to Tamil cuisine and traditionally prepared for the harvest festival. According to the ritual, rice is boiled with milk and other ingredients in a new clay pot over an open fire. The milk is allowed to boil and spill over the pot to symbolize overflowing abundance and future prosperity for the family.

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Ingredients • Rice (uncooked) • Milk • Grated coconut • Jaggery (unrefined brown sugar) • Green gram or mungbean dhal • Cashews and raisins • Cardamom (crushed) • Butter • Water This recipe is good for four people.

CHRis QuinTana

1 cup 1 cup ½ cup 300 grams 50 grams 20 grams 4 pieces 2 tablespoons 3 1/4 cups

Cooking directions 1. Combine the uncooked rice, milk, and dhal in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water and boil for 20–30 minutes until the rice and dhal mixture is cooked. Mash the ingredients thoroughly. Set aside. 2. Mix the jaggery with ¼ cup of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat it on a low flame until the sugar melts completely. Strain the syrup to remove any impurities. 3. Combine the cooked rice, dhal mixture, and brown sugar syrup while stirring slowly. Add the grated coconut and crushed cardamom. Allow to boil for a few minutes. Set aside. 4. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Fry the cashews, followed by the raisins, and use them as a garnish.

In a 4:36 video on YouTube at http://snipurl.com/1li8iu, Ms. Banu gives step-by-step instructions on how to prepare this delectable dish.
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Reprinted from Rice Today January-March 2011

What’s cooking?
Ipoh Kway Teow
CHRis QuinTana (3)

a simple but flavorful Malaysian rice noodle soup
atti Heong, spouse of Dr. K.L. Heong, a senior scientist at IRRI responsible for research on arthropod ecology and integrated pest management, often makes this simple but delicious soup for lunch or a snack. Patti, who has been at IRRI since the Heong family arrived in 1989, was previously an executive secretary to a director at Tractors Malaysia. “Cooking has always been my hobby,” she says. “I like to experiment with different recipes and tastes. With this dish, I am integrating Cantonese and Malaysian tastes.” "Ipoh Kway Teow Soup,” she adds, “also known in Cantonese as Yi Poh Sar Hor Fun, can be found in most food courts and hawkers' haunts throughout major towns in Malaysia. It is served in clear soup and is like a comfort food—very light. This dish is named after Ipoh, the capital city of the state of Perak in my home country of Malaysia, since it is believed that the best kway teow (rice noodles) originated from that area.”

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Ingredients • Rice noodles (substitute with rice-stick noodles if fresh noodles are not readily available): 50–60 grams • 1 chicken breast (boiled and shredded) • 2 large shrimp (pan-fried with shell on). When cooked, remove shell and slice prawns into halves, lengthwise • ½ cup chives: wash, rinse, cut into 2-inch lengths, then dip them in boiling water to blanch • ½ cup toge (mung bean sprouts): wash, rinse, then dip them in boiling water to blanch • 2 tbsp fried shallots (native onion) for garnishing

Cooking directions Boil the rice noodles or rice-stick noodles until al dente (i.e., firm but not soft like in pasta; not overcooked). Drain. Put the noodles in a bowl. Top with the cooked chicken, shrimp, chives, and toge. Ladle piping-hot chicken soup (or broth) over the noodles. Garnish with fried shallots. Accompany dish with freshly cut chilies mixed with soya sauce. The broth can be made with chicken cubes or a chicken soup pack.

enjoy!
Watch Ms. Heong demonstrate how to prepare the dish in a 3:44 video on YouTube at http://snipurl.com/rice-noodle_soup.
Reprinted from Rice Today April-June 2011

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What’s cooking?
CHRis QuinTana (2)

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Chicken Biryani
Ingredients
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 small potatoes, peeled and halved 6 eggs, boiled and peeled 3–4 large onions, sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon ginger paste 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon salt (according to taste) 2–3 medium tomatoes, chopped 2–3 green chilies (according to taste) 2 tablespoons plain yogurt 15–20 fresh mint leaves 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves 3 pounds skinless chicken pieces (thigh and leg) 8 pods green cardamom 10 pods black cardamom 5–6 bay leaves 8 whole cloves 1 (1 inch) piece cinnamon stick 1 pound basmati rice 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

S a M ' S

iryani is a rice-based meal made with spices, rice (usually basmati), and meat, fish, eggs, or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā, which means fried or roasted. The dish originated from Iran (Persia) and was brought to the Indian subcontinent by Iranian travelers and merchants. Biryani is popular not only in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries. It has many local variants. The recipe presented here by Sam Mohanty, head of the Social Sciences Division at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is a somewhat simplified Indian version of what he says can be a very complex confection. Dr. Mohanty, who joined IRRI in 2008, is a widely published and awardwinning economist with a knack for cooking for his family when he is not searching for the direction of the global rice market (see Rice Facts on pages 44-45).

directions
1. Clean and wash the chicken. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, salt, turmeric, and chili powder for 2 hours.

2. In a pot, add vegetable oil and fry the onions until they are soft and golden. Add garlic and ginger paste and the whole spices. Fry and continuously stir for 5 minutes. Add green chilies and tomatoes and fry for another 5 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp. It may be necessary to add a little hot water if the mixture becomes too dry and starts to stick to the pot. 3. When the mixture is thick and smooth, add the marinated chicken pieces and potatoes and stir well to coat them with the spice mixture. Cover and cook over very low heat until the chicken is tender—approximately 35 to 45 minutes. There should be only a little very thick gravy left when the chicken is finished cooking. If necessary, cook uncovered for a few minutes to reduce the amount of gravy. 4. Wash rice well and soak it for 30 minutes. 5. Put plenty of water in another pot, add salt, and boil the water. Once the water starts to boil, drain the soaked rice and put it in the boiling water. Boil it again at a high temperature for 5–7 minutes. 6. “Par cook” the rice (meaning 3/4 cooked, while the rest will just get cooked later). Do not boil the rice too much. 7. Put cilantro leaves on top of the cooked chicken, stir them in, then add mint on top. Drain and add the “par-cooked” rice on top of this mixture. 8. Cover the pot tightly, turn heat to very low, and steam for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid or stir while cooking. 9. Spoon the biryani onto a serving dish and garnish with halved boiled eggs.

Watch Dr. Mohanty demonstrate how to prepare this dish in a 12:26 video on YouTube at http://snipurl.com/sams_chicken_biryani.
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Reprinted from Rice Today July-September 2011

Rice in the Global Economy: Strategic Research and Policy Issues for Food Security
Edited by Sushil Pandey, Derek Byerlee, David Dawe, Achim Dobermann, Samarendu Mohanty, Scott Rozelle, and Bill Hardy orldwide, rice is the most important food for the poor. It is grown on approximately 155 million hectares and accounts for one-fifth of the global calorie supply. Although traditionally an Asian crop, rice has long been a staple in parts of Africa and Latin America, and its importance is growing in those regions. The past decades have seen many changes that shape how rice will be produced in the future. These include 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. In the context of these major global trends, a new vision for future rice farming, which will strategically position investments in rice research, technology delivery, and the design of policy reforms, needs to be developed. This forward-looking book presents a vision for the future of rice farming. And, it answers key strategic questions in the context of major developments in the global economy. Various scholarly contributions in this book examine these strategic questions and lay out a rich menu of options on how to improve rice systems sustainably and enhance the overall performance of the global rice economy in order to reduce poverty and hunger. This book was officially launched during the Third International Rice Congress held last 8-12 November in Hanoi Vietnam. View videos of the launch at http://snipurl.com/1rlh9k. View and download on Google Book Search at http://snipurl.com/1ny959.

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To view irri books online, go to books.irri.org. To order printed copies, please e-mail RiceworldBookstore@irri.org.