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Future demands and challenges ahead

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                   About one billion plus of the global population still remain undernourished, inspite of the claims of grain revolution and plenty. Over 60% of them and majority of the still growing number are from Asia, where rice is the food and livelihood. Whatever may be the reason for this situation, the bottomline of all our current and future efforts should be for ensuring physical and economic access to rice-enough and for all in the rice world. Precise estimation of future needs keeping in view the population growth and income level dependant consumption of rice is important for effective planning to achieve such a goal. Demand projection computed using IFPRI developed IMPACT model (Rosegrant et al., 1995; Hossain 1998) at an annual growth rate of 1.02% is 417 million tonnes of milled rice by 2025. At the current rates of population growth and increased percapita consumption in the low income developing countries (Table 58) however, the demand would be close to 550 million tonnes of milled rice (822 million tonnes of rough rice) in 20 years from now, which amounts to about 27% increase (118 million tonnes) over the present production level of 430 million tonnes (642 million tonnes of rough rice) (Table 59). At the actually required production growth rates of 1.46, 1.26, 0.58%, the estimated demand of South Asia, South East Asia, and East Asia would be respectively 161.7 (27.8% more), 117.1 (2% more) and 158.2 (60% more) million tonnes of milled rice (Table 59). Some of the major rice growing countries in the region that are expected to grow rapidly in their rice demand by 2025 according to IRRI economists are The Philippines (65%), Malaysia (56%), Bangladesh (51%), India (46%), Vietnam (45%), Myanmar (42%) and Indonesia (38%). This would require quite steep vertical yield growth in the face of limited scope for horizontal growth. The yield level will have to be raised by 22.8, 16.0 and 2.1% over the current yield level of 2.19, 4.18, 2.6 t/ha respectively in South Asia, East Asia and South East Asia. Achievement of such a high target is not going to be an easy task, given the rapidly declining production-productivity growth in these major rice growing subregions of Asia (Table 59) coupled with shrinking favourable growth factors of the 70s and 80s, especially natural resources like irrigation water, arable land and access to needed genetic variability. Deteriorating soil quality and productivity, large rainfed area (>50%) both in Asia and Africa suffering from drought, submergence and problematic soils with no major yield breakthrough as yet, increasingly complex pest scenario with continuously emerging new and more virulent/viruliferous biotypes/pathotypes and above all rice farming becoming increasingly unattractive to the grower because of rapidly declining farm return would make the task of meeting the future production targets much more difficult and challenging.


Table 58: Changes in rice consumption, selected Asian countries

Table 59: Projection of demand, production and net trade of rice by region (in million tonnes of milled rice)

*-% increase to be recorded to reach the projected production by 2025

#-by keeping area under rice at the level of 2006

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