News / Asia

Three Questions: ASEAN and Rice Production

A farmer works in a rice field near the center of Pacitan, Indonesia
A farmer works in a rice field near the center of Pacitan, Indonesia

Food issues are critical throughout Asia and involve a myriad of topics from agriculture and trade to health, hunger and infrastructure.  On the eve of the ASEAN summit in Vietnam, discussions of rice are not prominent on the official agenda, if at all.  Katsuji Matsunami of the Asian Development Bank explains how ASEAN can address rice production and distribution on a larger, regional scale.

Rice has long been a staple of Asian diets, but its trade has become a very political issue since rice prices soared in 2008.  What can ASEAN nations do collectively to ensure enough rice remains available at affordable prices?

In many Asian countries, they call rice a political commodity rather than economic commodity. But to make this happen, rice productivity has to increase, so that we’ll have enough rice within the length of the area so that not large numbers of farmers would have to continue producing rice.  For rice to become less political, we’ll have to work on other areas outside agriculture like trade where, when the price hike like 2008 happens, then the rice exporting countries put the export ban, and importing countries will, in desperation, buy rice at whatever the price is available.  Then it would feed into further market volatility and price hikes, so on so forth.  So I think there has to be a lot more work needed to be done on trade and also some regional activities like setting up the regional rice reserve, which ADB (Asian Development Bank) is working on within ASEAN+3 countries at the moment.  So there is multi-sector aspects as needed.  Also Asia is a major producer of rice and other grains, but increasingly, they are becoming importers.  Rice has to become just one of other commodities in the longer run.

Will this topic be discussed heavily at the upcoming meetings?

We welcome ASEAN on rice issues, primarily on three things.   Number one is trade.  Can ASEAN+3 countries come to sit around the table and openly talk about the prospects of rice?  Who might need rice?  How much?  And who might have marketable surpluses of rice? This kind of talk is not going on.  These are all bilateral, government to government, and we are asking could it be possible to make it into the regional framework.  And they say, “well, this is interesting, we could study this.”  Similarly, there is a regional emergency rice reserve, and we are trying to set up implementation guidelines.  At the moment, this regional rice reserve is purely for disasters.  

Could Asian regional rice reserves be used for situations other than disasters?

These things require a lot more in-depth discussions among ASEAN+3 countries.  Before we go out and say this could be this way we are going to do that, at the moment, we are trying to help them understand each other and see if we can come to some consensus about what we can do collectively.   So at this moment, we are still working internally with ASEAN+3 countries, and us being able to go outside ASEAN+3 countries, and this is what we are going to do, takes a little more time.


Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid