The Mekong Rice Conference 2004 will take place in HCM City for three days from today to discuss how the Greater Mekong Sub-region’s rich diversity of resources, cultures, and environments can help make rice farming more productive, profitable, and sustainable.
The co-organisers are Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Mard), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Mekong River Commission and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Other main objectives of the conference include to employ and develop the “learning across boundaries” strategy, establish a platform for partnerships among stakeholders and policymakers in the agricultural, health, and rural development sectors of the sub-region to respond to shred challenges, according to IRRI, whose theme is rice, the environment, and livelihoods for the poor,
The organisers say that 150 delegates, including 70 international ones, will take part in the conference, held at the Cavarelle Hotel. IRRI says the meeting is open to all representatives form governments, non-government organisation, private sector organisations, research institutes, universities, the media and general public.
The keynote addresses are Sustainable Agricultural Development and Poverty Reduction by the World Bank, Building Partnerships in Rice Research by IRRI, Development Programmes in the Greater Mekong Subregion by the ADB, Rice Research and Development in Vietnam by Mard, and Rice is life and culture of the people in the Lower Mekong Basin Region by the Mekong River Commission.
Concentrations will be placed on managing natural resources for higher yields and better grain quality, and developing strategies for integrated crop, water, pest and weed management for better input use efficiency.
Other topics are environmental protection, developing rice-based production systems to increase farmers’ income, increasing farmers’ access to technology and information, and improving post-harvest handling to reduce losses in production and quality.
The conference is scheduled for closing at 4pm on October 16 with the summaries by Vietnam’s deputy minister of agriculture Bui Ba Bong and William Padolina, IRRI deputy general director.
The sub-region—encompassing Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province—is home to more than 60 million people, a quarter of whom still living in poverty. Rice production remains the main livelihood for the people in the region with 14 million hectares of rice cultivated over a wide range of environments.
Rice is linked to culture and economic development in all the riparian countries.
The sub-region is the theme of the World Food Day 2004. With resources well managed, the sub-region will contribute significantly towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The Mekong Rice Conference 2004 is a special event of the UN’s International Year of Rice as well as World Food Day 2004, October 16.
Thailand and Vietnam are among the world’s largest rice growing countries, and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is the nation’s biggest rice granary.