New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) India will host a five-day global rice conference from Monday focusing on international cooperation to boost the yield of the food grain that is a vital staple food for more than half of the world's population.
To be inaugurated here by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the 2nd International Rice Congress 2006 (IRC2006) will bring together around 1,200 scientists from around 40 countries besides traders, millers and also some selected farmers to foster partnerships in research, development and trade.
'The IRC2006 aims to provide a common platform for sharing knowledge and expertise on research, extension, production, processing, trade, consumption, and related activities with stakeholders,' said Mangala Rai, secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education and director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) here Saturday.
India ranks first in area (42.4 million hectares) and second in rice production (87.6 million tonnes.) with its area and production accounting for 27.5 percent and 14.5 percent of the global share respectively. Rice has 43 percent share in the food grain production in the country.
'At present, many nations are struggling to produce more rice at less cost in a deteriorating environment,' said Rai, who is also the chairman of the IRC2006 organising committee.
'Rice research and development also needs to address the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, and environmental conservation.'
International Rice Research Institute's representative in India, J.K. Ladha said the IRC 2006 comes at a very important time for the international rice industry when issues such as sustainability and water, GM rice and rice prices are being debated in most rice producing nations.
Adding further interest to the event is the continuing struggle of many countries in Asia to produce the rice they need to feed their growing populations - a problem compounded by the current increase in the international price of rice.
Around 90 countries cultivate rice.
Due to the high consumption of rice in developing countries, increasing its nutritional value can lead to significant positive health outcomes, said Ladha.