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Rice is life
Increased, sustainable rice production key to global food security
A symbol of cultural identity and global unity, rice is the world's most popular food. It shapes religious observances, festivals, customs, cuisine and celebrations.

Yet all is not well in the world of rice. Growth in rice yields is slowing, and is already falling behind population growth. Most rice farmers are poor, but national policies often favour the consumer and export market.

The United Nations launched the International Year of Rice in 2004 to turn this situation around.

The year's theme -- "Rice is life" -- reflects the importance of rice as a primary food source, and is drawn from an understanding that rice-based systems are essential for food security, poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods.


Rice in numbers

  • Rice is cultivated in 113 countries -- the staple food for over half the world's population.
  • Rice provides 27 percent of dietary energy supply and 20 percent of dietary protein intake in the developing world.
  • Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for about 100 million households in Asia and Africa.
  • Of the 840 million people suffering from chronic hunger, over 50 percent live in areas dependent on rice production for food, income and employment.
  • About four-fifths of the world's rice is produced by small-scale farmers and is consumed locally.
Devoting a year to a single crop -- an unprecedented step in the UN's history -- underscores rice's enormous impact on human nutrition and global food security. FAO and its partners are working together to promote sustainable rice-based production systems that will reduce hunger and poverty, and contribute to environmental conservation and a better life for present and future generations whose livelihoods -- and lives -- depend on rice.

As part of its International Year of Rice activities, FAO is hosting a two-day conference from 12 to 13 February at its Rome headquarters. The conference will work to mobilize the international community to confront the most pressing issues facing the global rice sector, from local farming practices to international trade. Participants include leading experts from around the world, who will present their perspectives on the latest trends and industry developments.

For more on the rice conference, the International Year of Rice and key issues facing the rice sector, consult the articles and fact sheets featured in the links on the right.

12 February 2004



FAO/12737/C. Errath

Read more…

Rice is life

International rice conference meets in Rome

Rice: The issues

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FAO Media Office
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FAO/16971/G. Bizzarri

About four-fifths of the world's rice is produced by small-scale farmers and is consumed locally.

FAO/13725/J. Isaac

Women transplant rice in Nepal.

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Rice is life
Increased, sustainable rice production key to global food security
When world population reaches 8.3 billion in 2030, what will most people be eating? Rice. At least they will be if rice-producing countries address some urgent issues.
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