May 08, 2020
ARLINGTON, VA -- In the most challenging of times, Americans can always count on the U.S. food supply. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, while the domestic food supply chain is facing unprecedented logistical strain, the supply of food itself is plentiful and enough to meet demand.
However, in many developing nations around the world, some of which are destinations for rice in food aid, the situation is very different. Nations that were in transition to greater resilience have now regressed to food insecure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warns of a looming “famine of biblical proportions,” as WFP reports 135 million people facing hunger and an additional 130 million on the edge of starvation, up from 80 million a few years ago. Beasley also said that if food doesn't reach those in need, up to 300,000 people could starve to death every day.
“Now, more than ever, U.S.-grown rice is one of the best solutions to address hunger, stop starvation, and prevent children from slipping into malnutrition,” said Bobby Hanks, chair of the USA Rice Food Aid Subcommittee. “Fortifed rice in particular is readily available and saves and improves lives by providing eight micronutrients traditionally lacking from diets in many nations where we provide food assistance.”
USA Rice members have a long history of feeding the world through global food aid programs in tandem with the U.S. Government and WFP. Currently almost 100,000 MT of U.S.-grown milled and fortified rice is shipped to food insecure nations in Asia, Latin America, and parts of Africa, where over 1.6 billion people eat a diet dominated by rice. The versatility of rice allows for distribution as both emergency food in direct response to a crisis, and as part of long-term development programs that focus on feeding school children. And as fortified rice is now part of the global food assistance supply chain, rice can be considered not only a solution to hunger but as a solution to the devastating and lingering effects of malnutrition.
USA Rice continues to advocate for aid organizations to use more rice in key prepositioning locations, making it available to those in urgent need with quick delivery times. Innovations in packaging ensure that fortified rice arrives to its destination in peak condition and with critical shelf life potential.
“These are uncertain times with a lot of unanswered questions out there and people around the world still struggle to eat,” Hanks concluded. “The U.S. rice industry is committed to using our harvest to provide key nutrition that so many people around the world desperately need.”