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Meeting of the IRC Steering Committee

The International Rice Commission (IRC) Steering Committee met at FAO, Rome, on 21 March 2001. Its agenda was as follows:


The participants approved the contents of the IRC Newsletter, Volume 50 (2001) proposed by the IRC Secretariat. The draft text of the contents of the newsletter was made available upon request. The Chairperson also requested the members of the Steering Committee to contribute technical articles for the next volume of the IRC Newsletter, to be published in 2002.


The Committee was informed of the recommendations of the Expert Consultation on Yield Gap and Productivity Decline in Rice Production held in Rome from 5 to 7 September 2000, and the subsequent follow-up activities.

Yield gap conclusions and recommendations

The expert consultation concluded that yield gap in today's rice production ranges from 10 to 60 percent, depending on the rice ecologies in the regions where rice is produced. The consultation recommended the following major actions for FAO and national institutions:

A graph was used to illustrate the constituent factors causing the rice yield gap:

Productivity decline: conclusions and recommendations

The expert consultation had identified three cases of yield decline:

The expert consultation had further identified that the following factors may be responsible for yield decline in Asia:

Follow-up activities

Meeting of the Agronomy Group of the MED-Rice Network, held in Erdine, Turkey, 13-15 September 2000

The meeting focused on the yield gap in rice production in the Mediterranean climate areas and the recommendations of the expert consultation were reviewed. The study on yield stagnation in rice production in Camargue, France, was discussed during the meeting. The results of the study showed that farmers in Camargue need new crop management options, especially with regard to attaining the correct plant population, date of crop establishment and weed management. The MED-Rice Network established a Web site and an electronic discussion group. It is also preparing a project on the New Crop Management Approach for submission to the European Community for funding.

Workshop on Participatory Evaluation, Adoption and Transfer of Technology (PEAT), held in Saint Louis, Senegal, 2-4 April 2001

WARDA requested that FAO support its activities aimed at narrowing the yield gap for irrigated rice in West Africa, especially in the organization of the PEAT Workshop, as part of the implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed by FAO and WARDA in March 2000. In this regard, the Secretariat of the Commission has supported the participation of the coordinators of the Special Programme for Food Security in Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. Furthermore, the Commission invited an expert on Ricecheck to present a paper on this subject and to act as a resource person during the workshop. After the workshop, the expert was to travel to Bouaké and give a seminar on Ricecheck. He would discuss and review, with WARDA's scientists, the concept of Ricecheck and its impact on narrowing the yield gap in rice production in Australia.

Rice in Latin America and the Caribbean

It was reported that a rice congress would be organized by FLAR/CIAT and its members from 20 to 23 August 2001 in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to discuss integrated crop management for narrowing the yield gap in irrigated rice production in the region. The Executive-Director of FLAR had requested that FAO address the issues relating to the rice yield gap and how to close it at the congress. Also, with the assistance of the Secretariat of the IRC, FLAR/CIAT have prepared a project on rice integrated crop management in the region and have submitted it to the Common Fund for Commodities through the FAO Basic Foodstuffs Service (ESCB), represented by a member of the Steering Committee.

The participants were informed of the ongoing collaboration between the Plant Production and Protection Division and the Food and Nutrition Division of FAO in the area of the nutritional aspects of rice, to follow up on the initiative of Dr Fresco, Assistant Director-General, Agriculture Department. It was also suggested that more collaborative efforts should be encouraged among the technical units of the Steering Committee with regard to the preparation and publication of technical books and documents on rice, which is a major world commodity. Finally, the participants were informed of the approval of a new P-3 post for a rice-based cropping system specialist in the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) during the 2002-2003 biennium.

Provisional agenda and programme of the 20th Session of the IRC, to be held in 2002

The participants were briefed on the recommendations of the 19th Session with regard to the preparation and organization of the 20th Session, and what steps had been taken thus far by the Secretariat. The 19th Session recommended that the 20th Session be convened in 2002. Thailand and Uruguay offered to host it. The last three sessions of the IRC were held in Brazil (Latin America) in 1990, Italy (Europe) in 1994 and Egypt (Africa) in 1998. Priority, therefore, was given to Thailand (Asia) to host the 20th Session. RAP has approached the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives with a view to hosting the 20th Session in Bangkok, Thailand, from 23 to 25 July 2002. An ad hoc working group has prepared the provisional agenda for the 20th Session, with the theme "Rice for Food Security".

The participants reviewed and discussed the provi-sional agenda. It was then approved. Representatives from technical units agreed to contribute papers and human resources to implement the items on the agenda in accordance with their areas of expertise. The participants, however, made a number of recom-mendations.


Basic Foodstuffs Service (ESCB)

The following developments have taken place against the background of declining rice production and stable consumption:

Weak rice import demand and large exportable supplies in 2000 reflected bumper crops in the previous season. By contrast, global production contracted in 2000, with much of the decline concentrated in China and India. However, satisfactory crops were harvested in the major importing countries, for example, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines. As a result, barring unexpected shocks, global import demand is forecast to remain weak in 2001, which may depress trade again and dampen international prices, at least until the middle of the year, when more will be known about cropping intentions in rice-producing countries in the northern hemisphere.

Nutrition Planning, Assessment and Evaluation Service (ESNA)

There has been good collaboration between the Plant Production and Protection Division (AGP) and the Food and Nutrition Division (ESN) in the past and at present. The book Rice in human nutrition, published by FAO in 1993 as a result of ESN-AGP collaboration, is available in the virtual library on FAO's Web site. There has also been active collaboration between ESN and the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in studying the nutritional value of some of the crops under discussion in the development of a multilateral system. A paper on the subject has been prepared. The ongoing activities include:

It was also reported that ESN had agreed to prepare and present a paper on the "Impact of modern varieties and biotechnology on nutrition of rice-consuming populations" during the 20th Session.

Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI)

On the basis of recommendations particularly of the 19th Session, but also from fishery regional bodies in Africa and Asia and the Pacific, FIRI has been supporting the governments of member countries in considering and implementing rice-fish farming as a means of enhancing food security and securing sustainable rural development. In this regard, FIRI, in collaboration with other concerned FAO services, has been undertaking the following activities:

Land and Plant Nutrition Management Service (AGLL)

It was reported that AGLL, in collaboration with RAP, is preparing a comprehensive document on "Rice-based livelihood systems in Asia", which will include a number of project profiles. One of the important profiles will be on integrated soil and nutrient management. Elements of this document could be presented by RAP and AGLL in their respective presentations at the 20th Session of the IRC. An innovative technology called "Leaf Colour Chart", was tested in Indonesia within the framework of an Land and Water Development Division (AGL) regional project and proved to be very useful. The chart can help farmers to measure the leaf colour intensity related to leaf chlorophyll content and leaf nitrogen status. It is a simple, easy-to-use and inexpensive tool to determine the timing of nitrogen top-dressing in rice crops.

Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE)

The participants were informed of the ongoing study on the possible wider adoption of hybrid rice cultivation in India and Viet Nam. Funding for the study has been provided by IRRI and the African Development Bank (ADB). Field surveys to collect data from farmers, extension workers, researchers and private companies dealing in hybrid rice seed are being undertaken. Once they have been completed, workshops for stakeholders will be held in both countries. A comprehensive study report will then be prepared by SDRE.

Crop and Grassland Service (AGPC)

Preparation for the publication of Volume 3 of FAO rice information has been progressing well. The major points are as follows:

The participants were also informed of IRRI's invitation to FAO to collaborate in the preparation and publication of the third edition of the Rice almanac in 2001. The other collaborators will include IRRI, WARDA and CIAT. The involvement of the IRC Secretariat in this exercise was approved by the participants.

Activités du Comité directeur de la CIR: compte rendu analytique

Les membres du Comité directeur de la Commission internationale du riz ont examiné et approuvé le contenu du Bulletin CIR, Vol. 50 (2001) soumis par le Secrétariat de la Commission. Ils ont également passé en revue les mesures prises par le Secrétariat de la Commission pour mettre en œuvre les recommandations de la Consultation d'experts sur les écarts de rendement et la baisse de productivité dans la production rizicole, qui s'est tenue du 5 au 7 septembre 2000 à Rome (Italie). Après avoir examiné le programme de la vingtième session de la Commission qui a été proposé par le Secrétariat, les participants ont approuvé le thème principal «Le riz pour la sécurité alimentaire» pour la vingtième session, et ils ont révisé l'ordre du jour provisoire du programme. Des représentants des Services des denrées de base, de la planification, de l'analyse et de l'évaluation nutritionnelles, des ressources des eaux intérieures et de l'aquaculture, de la gestion des terres et de la nutrition des plantes, de la vulgarisation, de l'éducation et de la communication, et des cultures et des herbages de la FAO ont également présenté les progrès des activités concernant le riz en rapport avec le thème de cette réunion.

Actividades del Comité Directivo de la CIA: actas resumidas

Los miembros del Comité Directivo de la Comisión Internacional del Arroz debatieron y aprobaron el contenido del Noticiario de la Comisión Internacional del Arroz, Vol. Nº 50 (2001), propuesto por la Secretaría de la Comisión. También examinaron las actividades de la Secretaría de la Comisión relativas a la ejecución de las recomendaciones de la Consulta de expertos sobre el déficit de rendimiento y el descenso de la productividad en la producción de arroz, celebrada del 5 al 7 de septiembre de 2000 en Roma, Italia. Tras estudiar el programa para la 20a reunión de la Comisión, propuesto por la Secretaría de esta última, los participantes dieron el visto bueno acerca del tema principal de la 20ª reunión: «Arroz para la seguridad alimentaria», y mejoraron el programa provisional. Representantes del Servicio de Productos Alimenticios Básicos, el Servicio de Planificación, Estimación y Evaluación de la Nutrición, el Servicio de Recursos Acuáticos Continentales y Acuicultura, el Servicio de Gestión de la Nutrición de la Tierra y las Plantas, el Servicio de Extensión, Enseñanza y Comunicación, y el Servicio de Cultivos y Pastos, de la FAO, expusieron también los avances realizados en las actividades dedicadas al arroz y relacionadas con la reunión.

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