Meeting the challenges of global rice production
Rice is the second most widely grown cereal crop and the staple food for more than half the world’s population. More than 3 billion people consume more than 100 kg of rice per year. Rice is cultivated on 155.5 million ha with an average growth rate of 0.39% a year, in the last 30 years. In the near future, the possibility for expanding areas under rice based systems will remain very limited because of the scarcity of global water resources for agriculture, the expansion of urban and industrial sectors in Asia where land is already limited and the high costs of developing new lands that are suited for rice production in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The average growth rate of rice yield was 3.68% per year in the early 1980s, but it has decreased to 0.74% per year in the late 1990s. Several factors may contribute to the decline of the area under cultivation and in yield growth.