Johannesburg, South Africa, 1-5 March 2004


Table of Contents



I. Introduction

1 – 2

II. Potentials and Constraints for Sustainable Rice Production in Africa

3 - 12

III. The International Year of Rice: Background and History

13 - 14

IV. Rice Is Life: Aspects of Rice-Based Systems

15 - 33

V. The IYR: Challenges and Opportunities

34 - 43

      Rice in the Institutional Context  

VI. A Conceptual Framework for IYR Implementation

44 - 49

      The Strategy for IYR Implementation
      Expected Outputs of the IYR Implementation


VII. Concluding Remarks



I. Introduction

1. On 16 December 2002 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2004 the International Year of Rice to focus the world’s attention on the role that rice can play in providing food security and poverty alleviation. Rice is life for major populations of the world and is deeply embedded in the cultural heritage of societies. It is the staple food for more than half of the world population. Rice-based production systems and their associated post-harvest operations employ nearly a billion people in rural areas in developing countries. About four-fifths of the world’s rice production is grown by small-scale farmers in low-income and developing countries.

2. Rice is the most rapidly growing food source in Africa. Current rice demand has exceeded the region’s annual rice production capacity. Regional rice imports are high and costly. The implementation of the International Year of Rice is an opportunity to raise support for sustainable development of rice-based production systems for food security and poverty alleviation at the global level in general and in Africa in particular. This paper discusses the regional importance of rice in Africa and the potential and constraints for a sustainable production increase. It also discusses the background of the International Year of Rice, the different facets of rice-based production systems, the challenges and opportunities of the IYR at the global level and its implementation framework.

II. Potentials and Constraints for Sustainable Rice Production in Africa

3. In Africa, rice has become increasingly important as a food source and as an economic commodity. Regional rice production increased from 8.6 million tonnes of paddy in 1980 to 17.6 million tonnes in 2000. In spite of this dramatic growth, demand has exceeded supply and the region relies on imported rice. The quantity of rice imported yearly by the region increased from 2.5 million tonnes of paddy in 1980 to 5.7 million tonnes in 2000 (FAOSTAT, 2003). In the immediate future, food security in Africa will largely depend on achieving a sustainable increase in local rice production.

A Sustainable Increase in Rice Production in Africa

4. Potentially arable land in Africa is estimated at 637 million hectares, with about 68% in reserves. Area designated for rice production represents about 1.6% of total potential arable land. Therefore, Africa has a high potential for expanding rice production.

5. In North Africa, water resources for rice production are limited. Sub-Saharan Africa has large areas of wetlands that can be developed for rice production. Wetlands cover about 24 million hectares in Sub-Saharan Africa and they are divided into four categories: coastal wetlands, inland basins, river flood plains and inland valleys. Wetland rice production systems (irrigated and rainfed lowland) have been very well developed in Madagascar and North Africa.

6. In continental Sub-Saharan Africa, due to tradition, upland rice production systems were the dominant systems before 1980. The 1970s regional drought motivated governments to make substantial investments in the development of irrigated and inland valley swamp/rainfed lowland rice production systems. Since 1980, many V-shaped valley bottoms in the upper stretch of the river basins in Sub-Saharan Africa have been developed for rice cultivation. Inland valley swamp rice production has gained prominence in West, Central and East Africa since the 1980s. Today, about 630,000 hectares of inland valley swamps are used for rice production in West Africa. In Tanzania, the rainfed lowland and hydromorphic rice area reached a total of 270,000 hectares in the early 1990s. In addition to the development of the lowland/inland valley swamp areas for rice production, several irrigation schemes were developed during the 1980s and early 1990s in the Senegal River valley in Mauritania and Senegal; the Lake Chad basin in northern Cameroon; the northeast region of Nigeria; the southwest part of Chad; and in the Niger River valley in Mali. The irrigated scheme in Chokwe, Mozambique covers more than 20,000 ha.

Constraints of Sustainable Rice Production in Africa

7. The constraints of sustainable rice production in North Africa are very different from those in Sub-Saharan Africa. In North Africa, scarce water resources limit rice production. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the low grain yield is caused by several factors, including low levels of production technology. In upland ecosystems, rice often competes with other important food crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, cassava, yam, cocoyam, plantain and banana, as well as with cash crops including cocoa, coffee, citrus and kola. Because of its inherent low yield, rice cultivation in upland ecosystems will likely diminish should its competing crops become more important economically.

8. Upland rice and inland valley swamp/rainfed lowland rice in the region is grown mainly by resource-poor farmers, who in general apply very low level of inputs such as fertilizers and other agro-chemicals. The performance of upland rice is also limited by the following factors:

9. Rice planted in rainfed lowland/inland valley swamp systems in the region is also susceptible to drought stress; but the severity of the drought stress in these ecosystems is much less intense than that in the upland counterparts. In rainfed lowland/inland valley swamp systems, depending on the location of the field, rice plants can obtain supplementary water from one or more of the following sources: high ground water table, run-off water and the swelling of the river water during rainy season. The other major constraints to rice production in rainfed lowland/inland valley swamp systems in the region are:

10. In irrigated ecosystems, rice crops receive a constant water supply. High rice yields were initially obtained in several irrigated areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Irrigated rice yields in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria in West Africa; Cameroon in Central Africa; and Mozambique in Southern Africa have declined during the recent past due to lack of government support and the deterioration of soil fertility and irrigation infrastructures. In Madagascar, irrigated rice yields have been stagnant due to low levels of fertilizer application.

11. Rice production in Sub-Saharan Africa is further limited by the following constraints:

12. A sustainable increase in rice production in Africa requires strategies for overcoming the constraints that limit the growth of the rice industry. The strategies must focus on the following: the formulation of appropriate government policies to support the development of wetlands for rice production; increasing rice yield; improving post-harvest technology through research and extension; and the provision of infrastructure and accessibility to inputs. The implementation of the International Year of Rice as declared by the United Nations General Assembly would increase awareness on the importance of rice for food security and reducing poverty in Africa. It would also raise support and commitment to sustainable rice production worldwide.

III. The International Year of Rice: Background and History

13. The initiative for establishing an IYR commenced in 1999 when the International Rice Research Institute, reflecting the growing concerns of its members over an increasing number of serious issues facing rice development, requested and obtained FAO collaboration in having an International Year declared. This was pursued by FAO member countries leading to the Resolution 2/2001, adopted at the 31st session of the FAO Conference, requesting the UNGA to declare 2004 as the IYR. The request, submitted to the UNGA by the Delegation of the Philippines and co-sponsored by an additional 43 countries, was considered at the Fifty-seventh session, which declared 2004 the International Year of Rice (Box). FAO was invited to facilitate the implementation of the IYR in collaboration with other relevant organizations.

14. The importance that member states are giving to sustainable rice development is reflected in a growing number of global initiatives. These include those taken at the 1992 Rio Summit and elaborated in Agenda 21’s chapter on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD), at the recent World Conference on Sustainable Development, in the Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action in 1996 and in the United Nations Millennium Declaration in 2000.

The General Assembly,

          Recalling resolution 2/2001 of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

          Noting that rice is the staple food of more than half of the world’s population,

          Affirming the need to heighten awareness for the role of rice in alleviating poverty and malnutrition,

          Reaffirming the need to focus world attention on the role that rice can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty in the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration,

          1. Decides to declare the year 2004 the International Year of Rice;

          2. Invites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to facilitate the implementation of the International Year of Rice, in collaboration with Governments, the United Nations Development Programme, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Centres and other relevant organizations of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations.

(Source: United Nations General Assembly; A/Res/57/162; dated 16 December 2002)

IV. Rice Is Life: Aspects of Rice-Based Systems

15. The UNGA Declaration of the IYR not only emphasizes the importance of rice, but also points to the importance of agriculture systems as a whole when addressing issues of global concern. Agriculture systems affect and are affected by nearly every aspect of sustainable development. The IYR envisions rice as the focal point of a prism through which the intricate and interdependent relationships between agriculture, culture, nutrition, environmental resource management, biodiversity, economic policies, science, gender and labour issues can be viewed clearly.

Rice and Culture

16. Thousands of years ago, people from East to South Asia settled throughout river deltas and domesticated wild rice. The productivity of wetland rice crops enabled population growth and led to the development of society and civilization. Both in ancient and present times, the intense labour needed to reclaim land for rice cultivation, to build and maintain the terrace system, or to synchronize the cropping pattern against soil erosion, landslide and flooding has required villages to work collaboratively. The relationship between rice and people has inspired songs, paintings, stories and other modes of communication. Rice (Oryza sativa L.), is now cultivated in 113 countries and on all the continents except Antarctica. It is significant that almost every culture has its own way of eating rice and that these different recipes are, in fact, part of the world’s cultural heritage. Rice terraces beautify the landscapes and UNESCO declared the terraces in Banawe, Philippines, a world cultural heritage site. Efforts are also underway to establish the conservation of other rice-based production systems as World Cultural Heritage sites.

Rice and Nutrition

17. More than two billion people still suffer from micronutrient malnutrition. Although rice provides a substantial amount of dietary energy, it has an incomplete amino acid profile and contains limited amounts of essential micronutrients. Malnutrition reduces children’s ability to learn, decreases adult productivity and leads to premature death, particularly among women and children. Rice is the staple food for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, eight countries in Africa, seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one in the Near East. When all developing countries are considered together, rice provides 27% of dietary energy supply and 20% of dietary protein intake. Rice is a crop rich in genetic diversity and the two rice species, Oryza sativa L. (originally from Asia) and O. glaberrima Steud. (originally from West Africa) have spawned thousands of different varieties with different nutritional properties. If better utilized, varieties with higher nutritional value could contribute to reducing the global burden of malnutrition.

18. Most commonly, rice is milled, yielding white rice. While this process reduces cooking time and increases storage life, it also removes a large percentage of many nutrients including protein, fibre, fat, iron and B vitamins. People in a number of countries parboil rice grains to preserve the nutrients naturally present in rice. Fortification techniques can be used to add essential vitamins and minerals to the grain.

Rice and Agro-biodiversity

19. Rice-based systems support enormous reserves of agro-biodiversity, which serve to safeguard the environment, enhance rural people’s livelihoods, and enrich people’s diets. Local people often introduce cultivated plants, domesticated animals and aquaculture into the rice-based systems. Fish, frogs, snails, insects, and other aquatic organisms derived from these ecosystems help diversify and complete the rural diet. Fisheries are particularly important for poor people, especially the landless, who may earn modest incomes from marketing fresh or processed aquatic food and medicinal products.

20. Various kinds of livestock are supported by rice-based systems. Ducks feed on small fish, other aquatic organisms and weeds within the paddy fields, while buffaloes, cattle, sheep and goats graze on rice straw as their main food source in rice-producing areas. Rice bran, a by-product of rice milling, and low quality and surplus rice grains provide feed supplementation for livestock. In turn, livestock help farmers with transportation needs and land preparation; and, in turn, livestock waste can be recycled into organic fertilizer.

21. Rice fields also host a wide variety of natural enemies or predators, which provide a mechanism to control harmful insects and pests, thus reducing the need for pesticides. Similarly, fish feed on weeds and assist in weed control. Plant varieties are used by farmers for food and medicine and as feed for fish and livestock. The agro-biodiversity within the rice-based systems presents great opportunities for improved rural nutrition, increased farmer income through crop diversification, and the protection of a wealth of genetic resources for future generations.

Rice and the Environment

22. Water management is a key feature to creating sustainable rice-based production systems, particularly because rice is the only major cereal that can withstand water submergence. The relationship between rice and water is complex. For example, submerged rice systems enable organic matter to accumulate in soils, creating a nutrient reservoir for plants and animals. These systems also act as a “sponge” or reservoir that captures carbon from the atmosphere. However, the continuous flooding of rice fields without an adequate drying period has negative environmental effects such as a slowed rate of soil decomposition, salinity build up and water logging. In addition, the standing water in rice-based systems provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which carry diseases such as malaria. At the same time, this very same water presence supports natural predators for mosquitoes and a wealth of biodiversity that helps to enhance farmers’ livelihoods.

23. While upland systems use less freshwater resources than submerged rice systems, they also support less agro-biodiversity. It follows those actions to convert submerged rice paddies into systems that require less water need to realistically account for the multiple benefits and uses associated with rice-based water use.

Rice, Employment and Income

24. Rice is often the main source of employment, income and nutrition in many poor, food insecure regions of the world. Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for about 100 million households in Asia and Africa. Post-harvest activities employ a large share of the total labour force in Southeast Asia. Several countries are also highly dependent on rice as a source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.

25. In the past two decades, international rice prices have followed a marked declining trend, both historically and in relation to other cereals. This tendency has been fostered by technical improvements, which have resulted in a lower production cost per unit and sizeable gains in global production through the late 1990s. For many small farmers, the plunge in rice prices has seriously undermined their household food security, encouraging migration from rural to urban areas. Rice farmers are also exposed to high degrees of risk due to the vagaries of weather. Given the direct relationship between the rice market and rural livelihoods, many governments intervene and play an active role in domestic rice price stabilization.

Rice and Post-Harvest Production Activities

26. Post-harvest rice activities support the livelihoods of more people than just those who are involved in rice cultivation itself. The term, “post-harvest activities” refers to the suite of processes “from the floor to the fork,” including threshing, milling, processing, market transport and cooking. Although much progress has been made in the prevention of post-harvest losses in rice, in developing countries rice losses average between 15 and 16 percent. These rice losses are significant during critical operations such as drying, storage and milling.

27. Rice is Life not only because of the food provided by its grains, but also because of the contribution of various parts of the rice plant to human life. For example, rice straw has been used as roofing material. The production, servicing and maintenance of tools, implements and equipment for harvest and post-harvest operations have created additional sources of employment for rural populations, while the trading of rice tools has supported the development of many manufacturing industries.

Gender in Rice Farming Systems

28. Women and smallholder farmers play an important role in both rice production and post-harvest activities, yet they often do not receive proportionate social and economic benefits when improvements in rice cultivation are initiated at the field level. Women often encounter more limitations than men regarding access to critical productive resources and services or when trying to access credit, farm inputs, marketing facilities, extension services and information. Furthermore, members of smallholder farming households, in particular women, children, the elderly, and people afflicted by illness such as HIV/AIDS, may have different information needs than those provided by current extension services.

29. National laws may give men and women equal rights to land but in practice this is not always the case. Real strides in poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods cannot be achieved if the female portion of the population is left behind. There is an urgent need for equitable land and resource policies at the national level, with corresponding enforcement, to ensure that women too can benefit from improvements in rice-based systems.

Rice and Science

30. Science can help solve the riddle posed by a growing rice-consuming population that has access to diminishing land and water resources. During past decades increasing demand for rice has been met mainly through yield-enhancing measures of the “Green Revolution” in the 1970s, which introduced improved rice varieties and improved production technologies. In recent years, however, the return on these technologies has levelled off and experts have identified negative side effects such as increased resistance to pests over time and decreased biodiversity.

31. Research is now focused on creating improved technologies that enable farmers to grow more rice on limited land with less water, labour and pesticides, thus reducing damage to the environment. New rice varieties that exhibit enhanced nutritional value, minimize post harvest losses and have increased resistance to drought and pests are also being developed. Recent advances in hybrid rice and the new rice for Africa (NERICA) are just two examples of the contributions of science to rice development. Partnerships between CGIAR centres, National Agricultural Research Systems and the private sector, especially in the area of modern biotechnology, should be strengthened to improve rice quality, productivity and efficiency in rice production.

Economic Policy Issues

32. With few exceptions, major rice producing countries are also large rice consuming countries. Governments are often confronted with the dilemma of keeping prices low for poor consumers, while keeping them attractive to producers. Traditionally, the need to resolve these conflicting interests has led to a large degree of government intervention in the sector, making rice one of the most heavily protected and subsidized agricultural commodities. This high level of protection has contributed to the low levels of international trade in rice, which currently accounts for only 4-6 percent of global production.

33. This situation began to change in the 1980s, with the implementation of structural adjustment programmes and, in 1994, with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which provided the basis for reduced government intervention and trade liberalization. Consequently, world trade in rice is expanding strongly, with a growing number of countries relying on imports to meet their domestic needs, especially in Africa. While the benefits of opening to trade have accrued mainly for urban consumers by enabling them to buy rice at lower prices, the brunt has been borne by the small, poor farmers in the developing countries. Developing countries are now confronted with the challenge of keeping abreast of the trade liberalization momentum, while also providing some alleviation to the plight of small producers.

V. The IYR: Challenges and Opportunities

34. The IYR aims to confront the many issues associated with rice-based systems in a global, coordinated framework in order to positively harness the potential of properly managed rice-based systems. The following discussion examines the facets of the rice prism to identify the size of the challenges and the opportunities for synthetic solutions that benefit rice-based systems as a whole.

Improving Nutrition and Food Security

35. The IYR can help increase dietary diversification through the promotion of complementary crops and livestock or fisheries activities within the rice-based system. This will enhance household food security both through improving producer income as well as adding essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to the diet. Another strategy for improved nutrition is to improve processing techniques and the nutrient content of the varieties produced. As new food technologies come to the fore, consumers and producers must be better informed of the potential benefits, risks and limitations of new technologies such as biotechnology. The IYR can help nations develop the infrastructure to support and regulate these advances.

Managing Water Resources in Rice Ecologies

36. There is growing concern over the sustainability of global fresh water resources. At present, there are two prevalent approaches for rationalizing water scarcity within rice-based systems. The first approach aims at reducing the amount of water required for cultivation. It includes the development of rice varieties that are better suited for dry soils (such as aerobic rice varieties), introducing intermittent and improved irrigation systems and strengthening management practices. The second approach focuses on justifying water use by employing each drop of water for multiple uses - an example being the concurrent use of water both for irrigation and aquaculture. It emphasizes that the water management techniques must be introduced consistently with the systems so that water savings at the field level do not deprive other existing uses. The IYR can help raise awareness among the many beneficiaries of water in rice fields such as the diversity of life forms that are sustained within the rice-based systems, while also promoting the development of rice cultivation in low water regimes.

Environmental Protection

37. There are a growing number of environmental concerns in rice production. The indiscriminate use of pesticides and inefficient use of fertilizers need to be confronted, as do the emissions of greenhouse gases. Environmental resource protection is of increasing public concern, and has been reflected in a growing number of international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The attention now being given to protecting the environment has to be channelled into action complying with these agreements, using an ecosystem approach that considers all the various issues related to rice development and the complexity of rice-based agro-eco-systems. The IYR will help to exchange concrete ideas on these environmental issues and related challenges and opportunities among the various stakeholders.

Enhancing Productivity: New Technologies with the Efficient Use of Resources

Closing the Yield Gap: Improving Crop Management Techniques

38. Most existing rice varieties, and particularly the high yielding varieties (HYV) and hybrids, have a potential yield that exceeds actual yield. Furthermore, there is considerable variation in the actual yield levels achieved even under similar production systems. The gap reflects numerous deficiencies due primarily to inadequate crop, nutrient and water management practices. Improved crop management technologies are available but many have not been widely introduced, tested or modified to suit local conditions. Methods for improving technology transfer include innovative means for sharing and exchanging knowledge and technology among research institutions and providing services to growers without large public sector support; successful examples such as the Farmer Field School exist and can be more widely promoted.

39. Soil-nutrient management is also an important aspect of improving crop management techniques for enhanced productivity, through the adoption of nutrient-efficient rice varieties, improved nitrogen placement methods and the use of appropriate diagnostic tools. Integrated management of pest, weeds and diseases in rice production, with the use of a combination of resistant varieties, natural enemies, good agronomic practices and the timely application of appropriate pesticide with the appropriate dosage has proven to be more economically and environmentally sound. Integrated Pest Management promotes the development of agricultural biodiversity in rice fields. It follows that limitations in crop management are interlinked and require a fully integrated system approach, also known as Rice Integrated Crop Management (RICM), which holistically combines variety, soil and water, nutrients, pests and other crop management practices for optimum economic efficiency and environmental sustainability. The IYR can help promote information exchange and the use of the RICM approach for “good agriculture practices,” a term that encompasses the concept of using inputs more efficiently for increased productivity and economic return. It ensures that environmental and social aspects are taken into consideration at each decision point in the production chain.

The Systems Approach to Post Harvest Operations

40. The post-production system for rice has become a stimulus for growth with the introduction of high yielding varieties of rice and improved crop management. Small-scale rice producers dominate production systems in the low-income countries, and require considerable help to enable them to keep abreast of changing technological and economic innovation if they are to remain competitive. The IYR can increase awareness as to the importance of improving information mechanisms from the national level to the local level through “training and extension” services. In particular, the IYR can emphasize the importance of “adding value” to rice products, a term that refers to processing activities that strategically use all parts of the harvest for economic return.

Harnessing Science: Development, Safety Assessment, and Technology Transfer

41. High-yielding rice varieties, hybrid rice and the recently developed NERICA rice are available to achieve higher or more stable productivity in different ecological zones. There continues to be a number of challenges confronting the scientific community working on varietal improvements, which must be considered in a longer-term perspective. Still, opportunities exist for facing the challenges. Raising the yield ceiling can be achieved by a redesigned rice plant with improved yield potential and the development of hybrid rice for the tropics. International research institutions collaborating with national institutions can bring a broader approach to confronting genetic uniformity and erosion which leads to an end product that is highly vulnerable to major biological attack, as well as encouraging adoption of varieties having more nutritional quality, and the integration of varieties requiring less water and fertilizer in rice-based production systems.

42. The successful mapping of the rice genome in 2002 has further increased the potential for science. Through genetic alteration, the yield potential of rice could increase, while disease, weed and pest resistance and tolerance to drought and salinity could be achieved without harming the environment. However, these opportunities create new imperatives for biosafety, field testing, and capacity building within nations to ensure that the new innovations benefit local people and do not incur long-term costs on the environment. The IYR presents an opportunity for developing countries to acquire assistance to increase capacity building and establish biosafety regulations, as recommended during the Twentieth Session of the International Rice Commission, held in Bangkok, 2002.


43. In the wake of reduced capacity in national agricultural research and extension, non-governmental development partners, including civil society organizations and the private sector have, in some cases, begun to work with governments on sustainable agriculture and rural development. Good examples of such partnerships can be found within the context of smallholder rice, such as expansion of NGO-facilitated farmer field schools on Integrated Production and Protection Management programmes throughout Asia, and more recently, in Africa. More partnerships are required, however, to increase farmer access, particularly among women, to land, credit for investments in resources and information access to new technologies and innovations. Expanding and widening partnerships, including the private sector, will be a central challenge in many countries. Intergovernmental regulatory instruments affecting agriculture are becoming more prominent and of key importance for major crops like rice. For example, the negotiations related to: food quality (CODEX); climate change; to trade including non-tariff trade barriers; to biological diversity and related issues of safe movement of modified living organisms; to the recent treaty on plant genetic resources to assure equal access and benefit sharing, all affect crops like rice.

VI. A Conceptual Framework for IYR Implementation

44. The fundamental objective of IYR implementation is to promote and help guide the efficient and sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems now and in the future. In order to meet this overarching goal, the IYR strategy will focus on the following intermediary objectives:

45. In achieving its objectives, the IYR is committed to a participatory, consultative, innovative and proactive approach, which acknowledges the ability and capacity of all stakeholders at all levels. In order to synchronize IYR efforts at the global, regional, national and local level, the Year will be implemented within an IYR framework. As the nominated lead organization for the IYR, FAO has established an IYR Coordination and Implementation Unit to help coordinate activities within the IYR framework at all levels. At the global level, coordination of the IYR activities will be the responsibility of an Informal International Working Group, which was established at the Informal International Planning and Coordination Meeting for the IYR. Daily management will be undertaken by the Secretariat of the International Rice Commission, hosted by the Crop and Grassland Service at FAO. The framework for the implementation of IYR at different levels from global to community is shown in Figure 1.


46. The basis of the IYR implementation strategy is to engage the entire community in initiating combined and mutually beneficial actions for facing the challenges associated with a sustainable increase in rice production. This is to be achieved through the following activities:

47. Given that the IYR is a global awareness and action campaign, reporting activities are necessary to increase awareness on successful IYR initiatives, and they shall accompany all of the actions which are listed above. A final report on the activities and achievements of the IYR will be prepared by FAO in collaboration with the Informal International Working Group, for submission to the Secretary General of the UN and to all stakeholders.

48. In order to make IYR activities a success, adequate funding is essential. FAO will contribute considerable human resources from Headquarters and its decentralized regional, sub-regional and country offices. However, voluntary contributions from a wide range of sources will be necessary to implement the activities envisaged for the IYR. To meet these requirements, FAO proposes to establish a Trust Fund for the IYR covering the period from 2003 to 2005. The IYR strategy will make efficient use of its resources by using IYR funds to help establish and inform National Organizing Committees for the IYR; these committees can continue to develop the vision of the IYR beyond 2004.


49. The IYR 2004 is not simply a one-year effort, to be forgotten in 2005. Therefore, the IYR strategy will be to employ the Year as a catalyst for information exchange and the initiation of medium and long-term programmes for sustainable rice development. For this reason, the establishment of IYR Committees at the National and Regional level is an essential aspect of the Year and FAO places particular emphasis on supporting the formulation of national programmes and development strategies for the medium and long-term.

Global outputs:

  1. Published information on existing and planned international activities leading to scientific and economic contributions to efficient and sustainable rice development approaches and practices.
  2. Examples of the transfer of successful economic and technology methods at national and local levels.
  3. Dialogue and demonstration at the international level that contributes to heightened awareness of the importance and linkages of international inputs to the development efforts.
  4. Strengthened communication networks between global partners and those at other levels.
  5. Agreed approaches for strengthening the linkage between research and development projects and activities at the global level with those at regional, national and local levels.
  6. Global recognition and improved understanding of outstanding rice-based agricultural heritage systems.

Regional outputs:

  1. Contributions to regional conferences, consultations and meetings that improve awareness of challenges and opportunities relating to sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems.
  2. Enhanced communication and networking systems for linking IYR partners both within and outside the region, and at all other levels.
  3. Examples of regional initiatives and activities that have contributed to sustainable development of rice-based production systems.

National outputs:

  1. Published guidelines and approaches for national policies for sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems and examples of their successful implementation.
  2. Educational and training material on IYR related issues will be developed and issued in appropriate formats for distribution to educational, vocational training, and technical institutions. They will be made available to all partners.
  3. Networking mechanisms will be established for information dissemination and for monitoring the implementation of activities for sustainable development of rice-based production systems.
  4. National projects will be formulated and initiated for implementing policies and programmes that are required for sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems within the national agricultural development context.

Community outputs:

  1. Programmes for strengthening the linkages between partners at the local level will be designed and implemented.
  2. Networking between local, national, regional and international partners will be developed and implemented.
  3. Mechanisms for ensuring local empowerment and participatory approaches in resource use and general rice development decisions will be established.

Beyond 2004

50. The IYR will establish a framework for enhancing sustainable development of rice-based production systems and provide some of the means for achieving sustainability. However, sustainability must be rigorously pursued following the conclusion of the IYR. After observance of the IYR in 2004, FAO will collaborate with partners in establishing and assisting follow-up activities.

VII. Concluding Remarks

51. The UNGA decision to observe an International Year of Rice is timely. It offers an important opportunity to use a collective approach towards resolving increasingly complex sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems, which have important technical, political, economic and social dimensions. More than half of the world’s population rely on rice for its staple sustenance, particularly in developing countries. Myriad rice recipes, uses, and products illustrate the international appeal and cultural significance associated with the food. By-products of rice are fed to livestock, fish, other aquatic organisms, and wildlife. Rice and rice by-products are the starting point in many food chains that lead to daily food on the table. Rice cultivation and post-harvest activities provide employment to several hundred million people in low-income countries, thus improvements in rice-based production systems are closely linked to poverty alleviation. Rice and rice-based production systems maintain water, assist in land reclamation, provide a habitat for fish, livestock, beneficial insects and other wildlife, help reduce soil erosion, aid in carbon sequestration and their natural beauty can be harnessed for economic initiatives related to eco-tourism and cultural awareness activities. The complexity, diversity and utility of the rice-based ecosystems underscore the need for a coordinated, international approach to sustainable rice development. The mission of the Year is to achieve a more sustainable increase in rice production, thus leading to less hunger, better nutrition, less poverty, and a better life.


At Member Countries’ request and as proposed by the FAO Director-General, the fifty-seventh United Nations General Assembly session held on the 16th December 2002, declared 2004 as the International Year of Rice (IYR).

The objective of the IYR is to increase awareness of the contribution of rice to human welfare and culture, to conserve biological diversity in production systems and to promote action to sustainably develop rice-based production systems as well as the utilization of rice products.

The IYR will be implemented in a coordinated manner at the Global, Regional, National and Community levels by working groups representing governments, NGOs, the private sector, development partners, research institutions and farmers’ organizations.

FAO has been nominated as the lead organization for the event. However, funding of the activities planned for 2004 and 2005 will be borne by voluntary contributions of various partners.

The IYR provides a framework and serves as a catalyst for information exchange and the initiation of medium and long-term programs for sustainable rice development and utilization.

The implementation of IYR will specifically generate four types of outputs: Global, Regional, National and Community:

1) Global outputs will focus on regular collection, sharing and dissemination of relevant economic, technological and scientific information on sustainable rice development, as well as establishing linkages and raising awareness, particularly in rice-based agricultural heritage systems.

2) Regional outputs will focus on the organization of meetings to improve communication and networking and share information on successful experiences in rice-based production systems within the region.

3) National outputs will focus on policy formulation and implementation, capacity building and transfer of technology for sustainable development of rice and rice-based production systems.

4) Community outputs will focus on strengthening linkages, developing networks and empowering farmers to improve rice production systems.