RICE IS LIFE
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Rice, income and employmentRice and us

Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for about 100 million households in Asia and Africa

The importance of managing rice-based ecosystems in a sustainable way is underscored by the strong relationship between rice production and local livelihoods.

Rice is often the main source of employment, income and nutrition in many poor, food insecure regions of the world. In South Asia, where 530 million people live on less than US $1 a day, calories supplied by rice account for about 60-70 % of total food intake. Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for about 100 million households in Asia and Africa. Post-harvest and transformation activities generated by rice production also 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.

Although global per capita demand for rice is declining, rice demand as a whole will continue to expand due to population growth and increasing consumption patterns in different regions, including Africa. 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 been one of the major causes of poverty and hardship and 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 and price fluctuations. For these reasons, rice is central to many government development and food security programmes. Given the direct relationship between the rice market and rural livelihoods, many governments intervene and play an active role in domestic rice price stabilization.