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Reference Date: 15-January-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
2014 main season rice production forecast at near-record level
Harvesting of the 2014 main (wet) season paddy crop, which normally accounts for about 80 percent of annual production, is currently ongoing and will continue until the end of February. FAO’s latest forecast puts the 2014 main season rice output at 7.2 million tonnes, 2 percent below last year’s record level of the same season. The slight decrease is the result of a dry spell in northwestern parts between June and August, coupled with localized floods in August in some areas of the Mekong River Basin, which affected close to 166 000 hectares of agricultural crops, of which some 36 000 hectares were damaged. Assuming an average 2014/15 secondary (dry) season harvest, to be harvested between March and April 2015, FAO’s preliminary forecast for the aggregate 2014/15 rice production stands at 9.3 million tonnes, marginally below last year’s record level.
Harvesting of the 2014 maize was completed in October. FAO’s latest estimate points to a 1 percent decrease to 920 000 tonnes, reflecting a marginal contraction in planted area, after the record production in 2013.
Rice exports forecast to increase in 2015
Cereal exports in the 2015 marketing year (January/ December) are forecast at 1.5 million tonnes, 9 percent higher than last year’s above-average level. Most of this volume is rice, which is anticipated to increase by 15 percent compared to last year’s slightly reduced level.
Rice prices generally declined in December
Wholesale prices of rice declined in most markets in December, reflecting new supplies from the ongoing 2014/15 main season harvest, anticipated at a near-record level. Overall, prices were below their year-earlier levels.
Overall food security situation is satisfactory
Following good supplies from the previous year’s bumper cereal harvests, overall food availability is satisfactory. Access to food has also increased due to lower rice prices and the increase in daily wage rates for unskilled workers engaged mainly in farming and construction.
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PHNOM PENH – A recent study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), PATH and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) has shown that children in Cambodia are less prone to fever and diarrhoea and score higher on cognitive tests after six months of regularly eating fortified rice.
The results of the largest impact study of fortified rice conducted globally to date were presented to experts and policy makers at a conference in Phnom Penh on 9 October.
For the study, 10,000 children in 20 primary schools in Kampong Speu province were tested throughout the six-month academic year to measure their health, nutritional status and cognitive development. Participants were randomly assigned to different groups that received one of three types of fortified rice or regular unfortified rice, and were compared to a control group.
“Malnutrition is a significant public health issue in Cambodia. Through this project, we hope to build on momentum for the introduction of fortified rice in Cambodia as an affordable means of improving the nutritional status of vulnerable Cambodians,” said Matthew Frey, Senior Project Manager, Maternal Child Health and Nutrition, PATH.
Test results showed fortified rice significantly improved the children’s vitamin A and zinc status. A lack of these micronutrients can impair the immune system and increase the likelihood of death from common childhood illnesses. Children consuming fortified rice were also less prone to fever and diarrhoea and scored higher on cognitive tests.
However, experts acknowledge that some aspects of the study require further attention.
“The fortified rice had little impact on the prevalence of anemia and more research is needed to improve the effectiveness of fortified rice to improve iron status,” reports Frank Wieringa, from IRD.
The study was conducted with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the WFP-DSM partnership, in close collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF); the Ministry of Planning; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports; and the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Chhoun Chamnan, Director of the Department of Fisheries at MAFF explains: “This research work is a direct continuation of earlier research done in collaboration with the World Food Programme, the University of Copenhagen and IRD to enhance rice porridge for young children with fish – for the protein – and micronutrients.”
Cambodia has a significant rate of child undernutrition, which robs children of their potential to lead a healthy and productive life. Also, a recent report by the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, WFP and UNICEF found that up to 5 million Cambodians are affected by malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, costing between US$250 million and US$400 million annually or 1.5 to 2.5 percent of Cambodia’s total annual Gross Domestic Product. Fortifying staple food with vitamins and minerals has proven to be a safe and effective way to address micronutrient deficiencies in many countries.
“Because rice is the staple food in Cambodia, fortifying rice is an ideal way to help children and adults get the micronutrients they need without having to change their eating habits,” said Gianpietro Bordignon, WFP Country Director. “WFP will continue to work with partners to facilitate broader access and wider use of fortified rice in Cambodia.”
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries. Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media
PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children. Accelerating innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—PATH harnesses its entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, PATH takes innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. With these key partners, PATH delivers measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at www.path.org.
For more information please contact:
Jin Iwata, WFP/Phnom Penh, email: email@example.com
Dessa Shuckerow, WFP/Phnom Penh, email: Dessa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Wieringa, IRD, Cambodia; email: email@example.com
Kate Davidson, PATH, USA; email: firstname.lastname@example.org