Taking Stock – Rice in Global Food Assistance Programs

Emergency food aid needs graph
The need is growing
May 28, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA – When it comes to food aid, USA Rice has dual goals:  to increase the use of all rice in global food assistance programs and to have more fortified rice used in those programs.  For the first two quarters of the 2021 marketing year (October to March), nearly 42,000 MT of rice hse been called forward for all global feeding programs.  With the additional  large rice tender for monetization to West Africa in April (see USA Rice Daily, April 16, 2021), the food aid total is well over 100,000 MT for the year.  

“USA Rice’s traditional benchmark goal for total rice tonnage in food aid each year has been 100,000 MT, and in years past it was difficult to surpass that amount,” said Bobby Hanks, chair of the USA Rice Food Aid Subcommittee.  “However, worsening global civil unrest and resulting food insecurity, coupled with the lingering effects of COVID, have called for greater supplies from the U.S. rice industry to help address global hunger.”  

During the last year and continuing into 2021, the world has seen no shortage of hunger emergencies and rice has proven to be one of the most reliable and heavily-used commodities in global feeding programs in an ever-expanding list of countries.  Increasing amounts of rice and fortified rice also are being used by U.S. government feeding programs, not only in long-term development programs but in emergency response as well.  

“The rice, pulse, vegetable oil food basket is slowly becoming the standard food aid response so we expect the usage of rice in this area to continue to increase,” said Hanks.

USA Rice continues to strengthen ties with government partners at USDA and USAID, as well as exchanging information on rice with implementing agencies and the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP).  Quality improvement in packaging and shelf life, as well as new traceability systems set to launch this year, put the U.S. rice industry in an excellent position to see record tonnage in food assistance this year and beyond.