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Addressing world hunger and malnutrition with rice – IRC 2018
This year, the 5th International Rice Congress (IRC 2018), which took place in Singapore in mid-October 2018, attracted close to 1,500 delegates from 60 countries. IRC 2018 featured over 300 research posters as well as 400 research presentations. The IRC is an international event that highlights innovations and technologies to achieve a food- and nutrition-secure future for the world. Organised by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), it is the world’s largest gathering of leading experts in agriculture, research, academia and the rice industry. The German Agricultural Society (DLG) prepared the adjacent trade show.
Held every four years, it provides a venue for all players in the rice industry to meet, share, and learn about the latest game-changing innovations, cutting-edge technologies, and crucial policies shaping the future of the globe's most important staple crop. IRC 2018 featured the International Rice Research Conference and the 8th Rice Genetics Symposium.
Increasing demand of world’s most important staple crop
Half of the world’s population, around 3.5 billion people, eat rice daily. By 2050, annual global rice consumption is estimated to rise from 450 million tons to 525 million tons. While more than 90 per cent of this rice is eaten in Asia, including the region’s 515 million people still affected by hunger, the demand for rice in Africa is growing at 7 per cent per year. More importantly, of the 667 million children under the age of 5 years world-wide, nearly 151 million are stunted as a result of malnutrition.
“The world is changing rapidly, and the future world rice economy will look much different than it does today,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Diets are changing towards fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, although rice will remain the foundation of Asian diets, especially for the poor. Global rice trade is increasing, and climate change is affecting rice production.” FAO was therefore working with IRRI and other stakeholders to create relevant knowledge products to leverage the rapid technological changes taking place in the world. “Our objective is to make smallholder farmers more resilient and competitive so that they can achieve prosperity and provide poor consumers with affordable rice in a sustainable manner. That’s a win-win the world needs to see,” Kadiresan noted.
IRC partners and future collaboration
“We face significant challenges if we care to deliver food and nutritional security for all people. Together, with a host of like-minded organisations, we can translate sound scientific research into innovative solutions for the world's smallest farmers,” said Dr Matthew Morell, Director General of IRRI.
“Understanding the current and future needs of our rice stakeholders allows us to target our work towards the most effective solutions. With our partners, we can put in place concrete steps to bring about significant change in the global agri-food system.”
According to Morell, IRC 2018 is a call to galvanise organisations towards more cohesive and sustainable approaches to address these critical socio-economic and environmental issues.
In this context, the IRRI, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), and the FAO renewed their commitment to direct efforts and resources to achieve global food and nutrition security at IRC 2018.
As Singapore is a net importer of rice, AVA supported the conference and recognised the importance of a sustainable, resilient supply of rice globally. The conference is an opportunity to spur new innovations to sustainably raise productivity of rice, and to forge public-private collaborations to unlock new solutions to meet future demands for food.
“With an exhibition area that showed technical solutions for rice cultivation, alongside a manifold congress programme, we are proud of joining forces with IRRI for the International Rice Congress 2018 but also for future collaborations to combine IRRI’s technical knowledge in the rice sector with DLG’s strength of organising agricultural trade fairs on international level,” said Anna Heppe, project manager of DLG Service GmbH.
DLG’s trade show covered technical innovations in the fields of irrigation, plant protection, agricultural science as well as rice breeding companies.