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Can the Asian Rice Bowls keep up with the growing rice demand?

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna (5 April 2023) – The whole world is in a race to feed humanity amid rising demand and a growing population, as well as conflict and the impending threat of climate change impacts. In recent years, the rice bowls of Asia start to see cracks in production.

“There is a lot of effort going on to develop varieties that are tolerant to drought, submergence, heat, cold, and salinity. There’s also constant development of new short-duration varieties, reducing exposure to shocks and stresses, therefore, reducing labor input that goes into production. Other technologies developed for water management are also in place,” said IRRI India Representative Dr. Ranjitha Puskur in an interview with Channel NewsAsia.

In an episode of Insight, Channel NewsAsia’s documentary program on the latest societal issues we’re facing,  veteran journalist Genevieve Woo breaks down the challenges facing the rice-food system and how the farmers are coping in rice-eating and producing countries like Thailand, India and Indonesia.

In India, farmers are constantly wary of rainfall deficit and extreme heat. In Thailand, saltwater seeps through coastal areas shrinking arable land. Indonesian farmers are forced to buy high-priced and non-subsidized fertilizer due to the crippled supply caused by the Ukraine-Russia conflict. All of these constitute the estimated decline in the global rice output by 2% in 2023, the lowest in the last three years.

Watch the documentary on CNA.