With the spread of mechanized agriculture and increased migration to the cities late in the eighteenth century, large landholders sought tariff protection that benefited domestic crops such as rice.
Feeding a Hungry Planet: Rice, Research, & Development in Asia & Latin America
Rice is now a crop of the modern frontier. Interim rice plantings transform land cleared by indiscriminate burning into cattle pasture. Traditional production is mostly of the upland variety by small farmers who interplant it with other crops and straddle the subsistence sector with occasional surpluses for cash. In some microregions, such as Brazil, where three-quarters of Latin America's total rice acreage is concentrated most of it of the upland variety , irrigated rice is exploited by large-scale commercial agriculture.
The higher-yielding irrigated rice has been the focus of "green revolution" efforts to expand production through the introduction of hybrid varieties, increased mechanization, and the application of chemical fertilizers.
Indeed, rice production has become significantly more efficient. In South America , between the s and , the area used to produce rice decreased 25 percent, but overall production increased by 59 percent.
This greater efficiency has generally brought down prices, which has helped the poor, who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on food. By , rice contributed more to the average Latin American's diet than wheat, maize, or potatoes. See also Agriculture ; Slavery: Spanish America. Scientific agriculture was an instrument for molding peasants into citizens with modern attitudes, loyalties, and reproductive habits. But food policies were as contested then as they are today. While Kennedy and Johnson envisioned Kansas-style agribusiness guarded by strategic hamlets, Indira Gandhi, Marcos, and Suharto inscribed their own visions of progress onto the land.
The research also revealed that agricultural research has helped reduce large numbers of rural poor. These poverty-reduction effects were even larger in earlier years . The Green Revolution in Asia in the s resulted into high yielding rice varieties released by national and international agricultural research centers, which had powerful poverty reducing effects.
The rural poor benefitted directly from income increases as a result of production growth .
20 Organizations Dedicated to Improving Agriculture | raptim
Moreover, an additional ha of land would have been required to maintain current levels of consumption . Despite all these evidences, however, investment in agricultural research has declined since the mid s in Africa [3, 27]. In , rice was the source of more than calories per person per day for over 3 billion people. Furthermore, rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for more than million households in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America .
The concerted and coordinated efforts to improve rice production through science, research and development in the s and s enabled global rice production to meet the demand of a growing population, created employment opportunities, increased the income of rice farmers, and enhanced access to rice of the poor populations living in urban centres across the world. The gains made by the Green Revolution have begun to show diminishing returns [31, 32]. For four decades there was food sufficiency in Indonesia. This was as a result of improvements in food security by pro-poor economic growth and successful Green Revolution led by high yielding rice varieties, massive investments in rural infrastructure including ready irrigation and ready availability of fertilizers.
In , rice market was manipulated by the politicians. As quoted by Timmer , Siswono Yudhohusodo, one of the contenders for vice presidency in the Presidential elections in advocated for high tariffs on imports or outright ban on imports. This was meant to woo the voters-majority of whom, were farmers. The end result was high prices which were unaffordable by the poor people. It also minimized diversification by the farmers. In a bid to establish the influence of price in rice production in Sierra Leone [Sanko et al, ] used log linear model with the quantity of rice produced as the dependent variable and the price of domestic rice, quantity of rice imported and the price of imported rice as explanatory.
The findings indicated that domestic rice is more expensive than imported rice per ton. This underscores the argument that rice importation is undermining domestic rice production as a viable income generating activity.
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The study also revealed that that almost all people in the major urban area prefer imported rice. Rice prices are important for poverty alleviation [Sanko et al, ], not only in terms of their direct effects on the poorest segments of the population but also because of the key role they play in the structural transformation, both within agricultural sector and for the economy as a whole. Within the agricultural sector, lower rice prices encourage rice farmers to diversify their cropping pattern by making rice less profitable to grow and making it cheaper for farmers who diversify into other activities to buy rice from the market.
These rice ex-farmers then begin to purchase other crops such as fruits and vegetables which are more profitable but also allow consumers to diversify their diets and increase their intake of proteins, vitamins and minerals. This is a slow process under the best circumstances and must be market driven . Appropriate government support for research, extension and marketing initiatives can also speed up the process.
In china, rural market reforms after provide a lesson in the role of food availability in supporting decisions by local entrepreneurs to diversify out of grain production. One of the most important policies to support the development of small scale rural industries in China was the freeing of food grain markets in rural areas in the early s. This impact has not been lost on the Chinese leadership, which has committed itself to keeping domestic grain prices in line with world prices as part of their entry into World Trade Organization WTO . Conclusions There is greatly increased awareness that rice has become a strategic commodity to fuel economic growth and to contribute toward hunger and poverty reduction across the continent.
Many African countries have embarked on ambitious programs to boost their rice production capacity. Good practices should be identified and examples of successful agricultural development should be publicized, that is, the agricultural models that will lead to sustainable development must be prioritized, if Kenya is to be food secure. The frequency and increased intensity of extreme climatic events such as drought and floods have become additional challenges for global agriculture, which is already facing higher demand due to both population increase and new consumption habits.
In order to respond to this challenge, the selection of drought resistant crops is part of the solution. Research in this area should be intensified and it should target crops with high economic potential such as rice. This crop is essential for feeding the poor, majority of whom, are in Kenya.
Research and data
Farmers confronted with weather vagaries or climate change should be assisted by the government in the improvement of irrigation systems. Agronomic and past harvest technology packages should be developed or released in order to enhance performance and quality. Prerequisites for enabling technologies such as NERICA to raise food security in the country include farmers having improved access to seed and information as well as favourable policies supporting the development of agricultural sector.
Policy decisions should focus on rice price stability as an important long-term objective, although the measures to achieve it need to vary with changes and shocks in production and trade. This is to ensure that the policies do not protect producers at the expense of consumers by raising the domestic prices high. Stabilized low prices are likely to alleviate poverty than prohibitively high domestic prices. Cotonou, Benin. Africa Rice Center AfricaRice. Annual Report Africa-wide Rice. Agronomy Taskforce. Ex pede Herculem?. Research report No.
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Global hunger continues to rise, new UN report says
FAO, Rome, Italy. Journal of Molecular Plant Breeding 2 11 , M, Diagne, A. Journal of Crop Improvement 27 5 , The case of Kenya. Addis ababa, Ethiopia. Past Performance and Future Prospects. Report No. Food and Nutrition Planning Unit.
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