The challenges facing the world today to increase food supplies by more than 50 percent over the coming decades in the face of climate change are arguably much greater than those faced by us 50 years ago. Powerful social and economic drivers also will transform the nature of agricultural production in developing countries. This is particularly the case for rice, the primary food for over 70 percent of the world’s poor. To fight poverty and hunger globally, rice must be part of the solution.
The agricultural science community is in the midst of a nested set of scientific and technical revolutions—in such areas as breeding, agronomic practices, pest and disease management, and mechanization—that will help fundamentally transform agriculture to meet some of the world’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, and achieving food and nutrition security.
Dr. Robert S. Zeigler, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)—the world’s premiere organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science— discussed a range of scientific advances that will directly impact the future of global rice supplies, the sustainability of intensive rice production systems so characteristic of Asian landscapes, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, and the lives of farmers and consumers. Examples from Africa were also discussed, where demand for rice is growing phenomenally at around 20 percent, per annum.
International Rice Research Institute