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Asia and Pacific officials to finalize rice strategy

Pattaya, Thailand, 28 January 2014 – Senior government officials and development partners from Asia met today to finalize a regional rice strategy.

Convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the “Consultative Meeting on Rice Strategy for Asia and the Pacific,” has attracted more than 40 participants from some 17 countries of the region and representatives from development partners.

The participants are considering the contents of a draft “Rice strategy for sustainable food security in Asia and the Pacific region,” that once adopted, would have an impact on the prospects for food security for future generations.

The delegates are drawn from major rice exporting and consuming countries including India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and Philippines.

In 2012, the FAO’s member states called upon the Organization to help them formulate a regional strategy that would benefit both net exporters and importers of rice – a staple food source across the Asia-Pacific region.

“Having such a strategy in place will considerably facilitate the formulation of national rice strategies, policies and investment plans to address emerging challenges and benefit from new opportunities,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Thus, the formulation of an Asia-Pacific regional rice strategy is (our) direct response to the call by the member states.”

While it is recognized that each country must have its own strategy – a single regional policy cannot provide a one-size-fits-all solution – there is a need for guiding strategic options for future rice sector development toward 2030.

“Hence, our work and efforts will not end by the formulation of a regional strategy, but they will contribute to the betterment of people in this region, especially smallholders, the majority of whom depend upon rice for their livelihoods - economically, socially and environmentally,” Konuma added.

Across Asia, especially in the wake of the 2008 rice price crisis, coordination and sustainability of such a vital crop has been the centre of much debate. The issues range from productivity to resource use efficiency, to trade, cultural heritage and the effects of climate change.

“For the people in this region, rice is a crop of life, culture, stability and sustainable development,” Konuma added.

The regional rice strategy will be presented for consideration in March at the FAO’s 32nd Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

ENDS

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