Will Rice Depart from Asia’s Tables?

Will Asians start thinking of rice as an occasional semi-luxury rather than a staple for all? Or is rice consumption just going to decline naturally as Asian diets become more diversified? Both apparently contrary trends could happen simultaneously. What is certainly true is that rice does not fit the same demand/supply patterns of other staples. Although per-hectare rice yields have been rising slowly in most countries, no repeat of the "green revolution" productivity leap of a generation ago is in the offing. It is also noteworthy that very high yields are occurring in countries like Japan and South Korea, where prices are kept very high, enabling farmers to maximize inputs. The last thing the rest of Asia, let alone the world, wants is to see Japan-Korea style subsidies protect the "culture" of rice growing for its own sake regardless of market pressures.

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