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Why Is The World Running Out Of Rice?

For Third Year In A Row Global Rice Supplies Have Dropped Is climate Change To Blame?

Traders and officials expect Asian rice production in the first half of 2024 to drop as dry planting conditions and shrinking reservoirs are likely to cut yields. Falling production in China and Pakistan, as well as in the U.S. and Europe, have meant the supply of rice is shrinking compared to global demand. Additionally, Putin's war in Ukraine drastically pushed up the cost of wheat, which in turn has increased demand for grain alternatives like rice, CNBC reported.

As the global rice market has been dropping, the industry is expected to log its largest deficit between supply and demand in 20 years, which means rice prices are expected to remain high in 2024. According to finance and insurance company Fitch Solutions' report, the price of rice averaged $17.30 per hundredweight (cwt) through 2023 year-to-date and isn't expected to go down in 2024. The falling rice production will significantly affect the Asia-Pacific region, which consumes 90% of the world’s rice.

The countries that have consumed the most rice from 2019 to 2022 include China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Japan and Brazil. China, which is the world's largest producer of rice, and Pakistan, which produces around 8% of the world's rice supply, has been greatly affected by severe monsoon rains and floods last year.

The only rice market which has grown substantially is the African rice market. Rising for the third consecutive year after two years of decline. The countries with the highest volumes of production in 2023 were Nigeria 8,435,000 tons, Egypt 4,841,327 tons, and Madagascar 4,391,386 , with a combined 26% share of total production. Tanzania, Mali, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ghana lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 10%. From 2012 to 2023, the most notable rate of growth in terms of production, amongst the main producing countries, was attained by Senegal, while production for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Around 3,500 years ago, West African farmers in the floodplains of the Inland Niger Delta domesticated a hardy species of rice, Oryza glaberrima Carolina Gold descended from this plant. Rice became a dietary staple of the great empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai from the 11th to the 16th century. Around 10,000 years ago, the domestication of the first crops and livestock developed in Africa, and the practice of settled agriculture began. From China to the U.S. to the European Union, rice production is falling and driving up prices for more than 3.5 billion people across the globe,

Black Rice one of the world's healthiest rice strains tells the story of the true provenance of rice in the Americas. It establishes, through agricultural and historical evidence, the vital significance of rice in West African society for a thousand years before invading Europeans arrived on Africa's shores and the genocides and slave trade began.

Global rice prices have surged to a 12-year high, according to the U.N.'s food agency. In July, the rice price index was up 2.8%, an increase of about 20% compared to last year. Rice prices are at their highest levels since September 2011! Rice was cultivated in Africa long before any navigator from Java or Arabia could have introduced their kind of rice to Madagascar or the East African coast. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, O. Glaberrima is thought to have been domesticated from the wild ancestor Oryza Barthii and this is why the African rice industry is growing while the Asian rice is hurting. Oryza Glaberrima (formerly known as Oryza Brevilugata) by peoples living in the floodplains at the bend of the Niger River some 2,000–3,000 years ago

At the present time, O. glaberrima is being replaced at the insistence of foreign corporations for Western markets in West Africa by the Asian species, introduced into the continent by the Portuguese as early as the middle of the 16th century. But climate change has made this a losing strategy. Allowing the native species is thus rapidly diminishing in importance. As a National Research Council report points out, “this should not be allowed to happen. In a continent where food deficits are the rule, this hardy species has qualities that make it superior to Asian rice as a subsistence crop. Recent agronomic advances now allow for gene transfer between the two species, thus creating hybrids that are better adapted, and higher yielding under adverse conditions, than either parent species.

African O. glaberrima varieties have certain negative features with respect to the Asian O. sativa: the seed scatters easily, the grain is brittle and difficult to mill, and, most importantly, the yields are lower. But the O. glaberrima types also offer distinct advantages: the plants have luxurious wide leaves that shade out weeds and the species is more resistant than its Asian cousin to diseases and pests. Moreover, African rice is better at tolerating fluctuations in water depth, iron toxicity, infertile soils, severe climates, and human neglect. Some O. glaberrima types also mature faster than Asian types, making them important as emergency food (5). These characteristics have made it worthwhile to attempt to cross both species, a feat that that has recently met with considerable success.

In West Africa, rice is grown as the main staple crop by 10–15 million people living along the coast, from the Casamance in Senegal to the bend of the Bandama River in the Ivory Coast. In addition, rice is an important crop in the drier savanna zones from the Senegal River to Lake Chad. Rice is also grown today as a commercial crop in Ghana and Nigeria. In the coastal area, where rice is a dominant subsistence crop, isolated pockets of O. glaberrima cultivation remain in Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and in the Casamance region of southern Senegal.

A rice of great interest is Ofada Rice. Ofada rice is also a Yoruba dish. It is the name of an indigenous rice from a small community called Ofada, located in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State. It is not exclusively grown in the community, but it is an indigenous rice grown in southwest Nigeria but named after the Ofada community. It is used in making a variety of dishes.

Ofada rice are mostly blends, and a few of the rice varieties in the blends are not indigenous to Africa; however, they primarily contain African rice. It is grown almost exclusively in Ogun State, a state in southwestern Nigeria. The major advantage of Ofada rice is that it is grown on free-draining soil where the water table is permanently below the root of the plant. The African rice, whose scientific name is Oryza glaberrima, is unique to Africa and is an integral part of the culture of some communities. Because of global warming climate change it is a strategic commodity for food security: Rice is the predominant dietary energy source in West Africa and Madagascar and is the second most important source of calories in Africa.

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