Southeast Asia accounts for at least 40% of worldwide rice exports, making it a significant global rice supplier. Other sections of the world, such as Africa and the Middle East, rely on the region for food.
Global rice demand is expected to climb by 30% by 2050, according to forecasts. Given the continuous rice trade and the limited scope available for other major rice-producing countries like China and India to develop a rice surplus, Southeast Asia poses a dilemma in stepping up to secure enough global rice supply.
Crop yields are flat, agricultural land not increasing, and climate change is looming, raising concerns about the region’s potential to remain a net exporter.
In a recent study published in Nature Food, an international team of scientists, including those from the major rice-producing nations in Southeast Asia, estimated the discrepancy between yield potential and average farmer production across the six countries; Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.