CL 124/INF/17


Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session of the Council

Rome, 23-28 June 2003

International Year of Rice – 2004

Information Note for the Council

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 44 countries, invited FAO to facilitate 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 in global concerns regarding food security, poverty alleviation, preserving cultural heritage, and sustainable 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 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 the environment is enormous, which implies that achieving sustainable rice cultivation is a priority for long-term food security and human health.

3. The fundamental objective of the IYR is to promote and provide guidance for efficient and sustainable increase in rice production. The strategy is to engage the global community in establishing joint and mutually beneficial activities including information generation and exchange, transfer of advanced technology through education and extension, application of good management practices and formulation of recommendations based on successful trials and field case studies, and promotion of a policy and regulatory environment conducive to development. By raising awareness and understanding of constraints to be addressed and opportunities for doing so through complementary and integrated action, the immediate and longer term development efforts are expected to lead to an enhanced capacity for sustainable rice development.

4. Many stakeholders at local, national, regional and international levels provide important contributions to rice development from production to consumption. Strong linkages and synergies between partners and systems are required to achieve efficient and sustainable development through new initiatives leading to important technical, economic, social and environmental contributions to the development process. Recent improvements in global communication offer new approaches and options for promoting sustainable development. A slogan, logo, Communications Strategy and Website will be the principle vehicles of the Global Awareness Campaign for the Year. The quality of communication across the national, regional and international levels will contribute to the success and long-term impact of the Year.

5. Planning and preparatory activities for observing the IYR are gaining momentum. An Informal International Working Group for IYR was established by representatives of all major stakeholders during an informal meeting held in Rome from 6-7 March 2003. The IYR slogan has been officially agreed: “Rice is Life.” The Informal International Working Group established that a concept paper on the operational framework for the Year at national, regional and international levels will be distributed in June. A Road Map for the Year, which specifies the participatory and observance activities associated with the IYR, was developed. It was agreed that national organizing committees will receive assistance for IYR implementation and participation. Plans for a fundraising campaign to support the IYR preparation, implementation, and follow-up are being finalized.

6. During the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) held from 31 March to 4 April 2003, some member countries 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.

7. Activities to-date have generated considerable enthusiasm for the successful observance of the 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 enhancing sustainable rice development beyond 2004 through enduring partnerships.