International Year of Rice


IYR logoThe initiative for an International Year of Rice (IYR) came in 1999, when the International Rice Research Institute - responding to its members' growing concerns over the serious issues facing rice development - requested FAO's collaboration in having an IYR declared. This led to Resolution 2/2001 of the Thirty-First FAO Conference, which requested the United Nations General Assembly to declare the IYR. The Philippines, co-sponsored by 43 countries, submitted this request to the General Assembly, which declared 2004 the IYR on 16 December 2002. FAO was invited to facilitate IYR implementation in collaboration with other relevant organizations.


The theme of the IYR - "Rice is life"- reflected the importance of rice as a primary food source, and was drawn from an understanding that rice-based systems are essential for food security, poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods. Rice is the staple food of over half of the world's population. In Asia alone, more than 2 billion people obtain 60 to 70 percent of their energy intake from rice and its derivatives; it is the most rapidly growing food source in Africa and is of significant importance to food security in an increasing number of low-income food-deficit countries. Rice-based production systems and their associated post-harvest operations employ nearly 1 billion people in rural areas of developing countries and about four-fifths of the world's rice is grown by small-scale farmers in low-income countries. Efficient and productive rice-based systems are therefore essential to economic development and improved quality of life, particularly in rural areas. (photo: Rice plants being removed for transplanting in Madagascar/UN Photo nr. UN151600/L. Rajaonina).


Rice plants being removed for transplanting in MadagascarThere are about 840 million undernourished people, including more than 200 million children, in developing countries. Improving the productivity of rice systems would contribute to eradicating this unacceptable level of hunger. However, rice production is facing serious constraints, including declining yield growth rates, natural resource depletion, labour shortages, gender issues, institutional limitations and environmental pollution. Enhancing the sustainability and productivity of rice-based production systems, while protecting and conserving the environment, will require the commitment of many parts of civil society, as well as government and inter-governmental action.


Many countries attach great importance to sustainable rice development, and there are a growing number of global initiatives aimed at promoting it. These include the Agenda 21 chapter on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) approved by 1992 Rio Summit; the 2002 World Conference on Sustainable Development; the 1996 Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action; and the United Nations Millennium Declaration in 2000. Among the intergovernmental regulatory instruments that are of key importance for rice are those related to: food quality (CODEX Alimentarius); climate change; trade, and non-tariff trade barriers; biological diversity and the safe movement of modified living organisms; and ensuring equal access to and benefit sharing from plant genetic resources. Together with the IYR, these initiatives recognize that, in a world of increasingly interlinked institutions, societies and economies, it is essential that efforts are coordinated, responsibilities shared and participation included at all levels, from the local to the international.





The official website for the Year.

All the International Years proclaimed by the General Assembly.



Stamp catalogue


Bangladesh                  21 June 2004









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last revised: 20 May 2008