Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- With increasing challenges in agriculture, and 2015 in particular being a difficult year for farmers in ASEAN, rice farmers need access to technologies to help them increase yields and efficiency. From October 14 to 16, over 100 policymakers and rice experts from across ASEAN countries gathered at the ASEAN Rice Future Forum in Vietnam to discuss how public-private and value chain partnerships are essential in encouraging the adoption of farming technologies, in light of the fact that the majority of rice farmers in these countries are smallholders.
The Forum is organized by Bayer CropScience, in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Vietnam Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD). It aims to continue the constructive dialogue from the 2013 Rice Future Forum in India and the International Rice Congress 2014 in Thailand.
Casting the spotlight on ASEAN this year, where rice is the key crop grown by mostly smallholder farmers, the conference includes keynote addresses and panel discussions on several pertinent and relevant topics. These include the need for capacity building and efficiency in sustainable rice production, gaining access to and adopting technologies and innovations in rice farming, and collaborating closer across the rice value chain as well as establishing more private-public partnerships.
Adoption of technologies key to increase yields and efficiency in rice production
Rice is a key crop and a staple in most diets in ASEAN, with ASEAN countries accounting for 25 percent of global rice production, and 22 percent of global rice consumption. Thailand and Vietnam are the key exporters of rice in the region, accounting for nearly 50 percent of global rice exports, while on the other end of the spectrum, countries like Indonesia and Philippines are striving for self-sufficiency in rice production and are the top rice importers in the region.
According to estimates by the United Nations, the world population will grow to 9.7 billion people by the year 2050. In addition, due to a rising middle class and a shift in dietary preferences, especially in emerging countries, the projected nearly 10 billion people could eat as much food as would be required for 13 billion. IRRI projects that current rice production – at over 700 million tonnes per annum – will not be sufficient to meet demands. Rice production will need to rise by 80 million tonnes in the next 10 years.
With increasing challenges faced in agriculture and rice farming, including limited arable land, impact of climate change, labour shortage and limited resources, this growth must be achieved sustainably, by harnessing innovative solutions and farming technologies.
“Agriculture is exposed to a plentitude of challenges such as limited arable land and natural resources, a shortage or rising cost of labor, increased market volatility, limits to credit availability for smallholder farmers, resistance issues and an ongoing quest for sustainability – to name only a few,” said Dr Sascha Israel, Head Region Asia Pacific, Bayer CropScience.
“This means we need to learn to farm even better and harvest more from the land that we have available. At Bayer CropScience, we are committed to supporting growers in their daily operations with innovative products and on-farm advice to tackle these challenges and support a sustainable intensification of rice farming. We collaborate along the entire value chain to achieve even better results,” Israel explained.
“We have made some headway in the area of public-private and value chain partnerships in rice and have started seeing positive results from the projects that we are undertaking. Going forward, we believe we can continue to contribute to the development of rice farming in ASEAN through continuing and strengthening these partnerships, with a focus on enhancing the adoption of technologies by smallholder farmers,” he added.
Joining hands to foster dialogue across the rice value chain
Stressing the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors and across the rice value chain, the ASEAN Rice Future Forum this year is organized in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The event also features prominent speakers from companies and associations such as the IRRI-led Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA), as well as government officials and policymakers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
“IRRI is pleased to partner with Bayer to foster dialogue through the ASEAN Rice Future Forum 2015 in Vietnam. This is yet another extension of our ongoing partnership in rice since the inaugural Rice Future Forum in 2013. Bayer was also a platinum sponsor of the 2014 International Rice Congress, hosted by the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand,” said Dr Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships at IRRI. “Given the global scope of food security challenges, IRRI supports national systems in the rice producing world – Vietnam and MARD being critical partners in the region. We also work with research and non-profit organizations, and the private sector, including Bayer, to improve rice production through better use of rice genetic diversity for crop improvement, disease and pest management, more sustainable and profitable farming, and capacity building for young rice scientists.”
Bayer CropScience has a long-standing partnership with IRRI to work together to expand the rice database and provide the impetus for breeding new high-yielding rice varieties, as well as enabling access to the many benefits of hybrid rice for farmers and rice communities.
About Bayer CropScience
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Bayer CropScience, the subgroup of Bayer AG responsible for the agricultural business, has annual sales of EUR 9,494 million (2014) and is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control. The company offers an outstanding range of products including high value seeds, innovative crop protection solutions based on chemical and biological modes of action as well as an extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture. In the area of non-agricultural applications, Bayer CropScience has a broad portfolio of products and services to control pests from home and garden to forestry applications. The company has a global workforce of 23,100 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.press.bayercropscience.com.
About the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
IRRI, or the International Rice Research Institute, is a nonprofit independent research and training organization. IRRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. IRRI develops new rice varieties and rice crop management techniques that help rice farmers improve the yield and quality of their rice in an environmentally sustainable way. It works with public and private sector partners in national agricultural research and extension systems in major rice-growing countries to do research, training, and knowledge transfer. Its social and economic research also informs governments to help them formulate policy to improve the equitable supply of rice.
About the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is a government ministry responsible for rural development and the governance, promotion and nurturing of agriculture and the agricultural industry in Vietnam. The purview of the Ministry includes forestry, aquaculture, irrigation and the salt industry; it is also involved in water management and flood control. The Ministry maintains 63 provincial department offices throughout Vietnam, and is itself located in Hanoi.