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Some good news for the world's poor

Millions of poor rice farmers and consumers in Asia have received a little good news just in time for Christmas.

While the world's trading nations remain deadlocked on how to move ahead with agricultural reforms that could benefit the poor farmers of the developing world, research just published has confirmed details of a proven strategy to reduce poverty in the planet's two most populous countries, China and India.

The research shows that, in 1999, for every US$1 million invested at the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), more than 800 and 15,000 rural poor were lifted above the poverty line in China and India, respectively. It also confirmed that such poverty reduction effects were even larger in the earlier years of the Green Revolution.

Presented in a peer-reviewed paper in the November issue of the journal Agricultural Economics, the research is robust confirmation of the very positive impact of rice research on poverty alleviation. "This research is important because it provides solid, additional evidence that should give all poor rice farmers hope because we know now that by providing them with new technologies via rice research we can lift them out of poverty," said IRRI Director General Robert S. Zeigler.

The paper's lead author, Dr. Shenggen Fan, works at IRRI's sister institute, the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In his paper, Dr. Fan said: "The results indicate that rice varietal improvement research has contributed tremendously to increases in rice production, accounting for 14 to 24 percent of the total production value over the last two decades in both countries. Rice research has also helped reduce large numbers of rural poor and IRRI played a crucial role in these successes."

Dr. Fan explained that new technology resulting from agricultural research can help to alleviate poverty in several ways. First, following the releases of new and improve
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Source:International Rice Research Institute


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