IRRI partners with Singapore and UN’s FAO to address world hunger and malnutrition

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(SINGAPORE, 15 October 2018) – At the opening ceremonies of the world’s largest scientific conference on rice, three international institutions recognized the global significance of rice, a vehicle for economic prosperity, international development, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations renewed their commitment today to direct efforts and resources to achieving global food and nutrition security at the 5th International Rice Congress (IRC 2018) taking place from October 15 to 17, 2018 in Singapore.

According to Dr. Matthew Morell, Director General of IRRI, IRC 2018 is a call to galvanize organizations towards more cohesive and sustainable approaches to address these critical socio-economic and environmental issues.

“We face significant challenges if we care to deliver food and nutritional security for all people. Together, with a host of like-minded organizations, we can translate sound scientific research into innovative solutions for the world’s smallest farmers,” said Morell. “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.”

“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% 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 year. More importantly, of the 667 million children under the age of 5 worldwide, 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, 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. That’s why FAO is working with IRRI and other stakeholders to create relevant knowledge products that 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.”

As Singapore is a net importer of rice, AVA supports the conference and recognizes 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.

Around 1,500 participants will take part in the three-day conference. Scientists, thought-leaders, decision-makers, investors, and private sector actors from 40 countries will gather to learn about the latest agriculture technologies, discuss potential areas for collaboration and strategies to boost the rice sector, and further agricultural innovations through sustainable solutions.

During the event, partnership agreements for long-term funding, knowledge exchange, and technology transfer will be officially signed by IRRI and partners. On Tuesday, October 16th, the conference will celebrate World Food Day with an interactive global discussion on the role of youth in achieving zero hunger.

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