C 2003/17


Thirty-second Session

Rome, 29 November - 10 December 2003

International Year of Rice - 2004

1. In response to the request made during the 31st session of the FAO Conference, the United Nations General Assembly, at its Fifty-seventh session in December 2002, approved a draft resolution which declared 2004 as the International Year of Rice (IYR). The resolution, submitted by the Government of the Philippines and co-sponsored by 43 countries, invited FAO to facilitate the implementation of the IYR, in collaboration with governments, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centres and other major international, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders concerned with rice development.

2. The Declaration of the IYR reflects the importance of rice to global concerns regarding food security, poverty alleviation, preserving cultural heritage, and sustainable agricultural development. Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world’s population; and rice products, recipes, festivals, and traditions have great significance for the world’s cultural heritage. Rice cultivation and post-harvest activities provide employment for several hundred million people in rural areas, particularly in developing countries. More than four-fifths of the world’s rice is produced by small-scale farmers and consumed locally. The major role of this crop with regard to nourishment and livelihoods implies that stagnant rice production would be devastating to food security and poverty alleviation. Furthermore, the impact of rice production on natural resources is enormous. This implies that achieving sustainable rice production systems is a priority for long-term food security and human nutrition.

3. The fundamental objective of the IYR is to promote and provide guidance for an efficient and sustainable increase in rice-based production. The strategy is to engage the global community in establishing mutually beneficial activities including information generation and exchange, transfer of advanced technology through education and extension, application of good management practices and promotion of a policy and regulatory environment conducive to rice development. By increasing global understanding of rice development constraints to be addressed and the opportunities for doing so among various stakeholders, immediate and longer-term integrated action is expected to enhance global food security and poverty alleviation. Recent developments in science and technology, as well as in global communication, offer new options and approaches for achieving IYR goals.

4. Planning and preparatory activities for observing the IYR are gaining momentum. An Informal International Working Group for the IYR was established by representatives of all major stakeholders during an informal meeting held at FAO from 6 to 7 March 2003. This group agreed upon an IYR Road Map and a slogan: “Rice is Life”. The official IYR logo has been selected. Within FAO Headquarters, the Secretariat for IYR implementation has been established; it has developed a Communication Plan and the IYR website. The IYR Concept Paper, fact sheets, international rice calendar, informational video and rice cookbook are also being developed in preparation for the global awareness campaign. Guidelines for National IYR Participation have been produced to facilitate national-level participation. Some nations and international organizations have already volunteered to assist in translating IYR documents into the five official UN languages. Preparatory activities for the official launch of the Year at the UN General Assembly in New York on 31 October 2003 are currently underway, as are preparatory measures for IYR participation in various international and regional conferences and symposia organized worldwide for the occasion. Finally, a Trust Fund Proposal has been developed and a donor meeting has been organized for 23 September 2003.

5. During the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) held from 31 March to 4 April 2003, some Member Nations recognized that Regular Programme funding had not been allocated in the preliminary Programme of Work and Budget for the International Year of Rice (IYR) and appealed for extra-budgetary resources to support this work. Activities to-date have generated considerable enthusiasm for the successful observance of the IYR. Committees for the International Year of Rice have been established in a number of countries as well as at the CGIAR Centres, the international partners of FAO, for the implementation of IYR. The Year is envisioned as a platform for addressing the increasingly complex political, economic, social, technical and environmental challenges confronting sustainable rice development. Furthermore, the IYR will establish a framework for national, regional and international activities for enhancing sustainable rice-based development beyond 2004.