Thailand government enthusiasm for Asian countries to meet rice demand between now and 2050 was pulled back a little by private sector analysts and association leaders from outside of Thailand, during the Thailand Rice Convention.

The consensus was that doubling food production by 2050 is a gigantic task, and figuring that more than 50 percent of the world’s population has rice as it staple food, then rice production has to definitely double. The majority of the population increase is also going to be in Asia where rice consumption is the number one staple grain.

Any and all benefits from advanced rice breeding needs to be put into commercial variety production as fast as possible, it was suggested. To meet population food demand, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization sees the need for a wide range of improvements from developing sustainable production technology to marketing chain improvements to good governance by major rice producing countries.

“The value of the dollar is the key variable that predicts the price of rice in the world,” said Jeremy Zwinger, a U.S.-based analyst and president/CEO of The Rice Trader.

During the past year, the price of rice during an extended time was out of line high compared with other commodity grains, Zwinger contended. “When the spread gets out of line it affects supply and demand for rice,” he contends. Higher rice prices can cause minor reduced demand for rice that is filled with corn and wheat.

But In general, return per acre to farmers for grain and fiber production shows cotton, corn, soybeans and rice ranking in that specific order with rice dramatically behind the other three in return per acre.

In the last five years, the top exporting countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, U.S. and India have been able to increase the average price paid for their rice. Pakistan was able to increase prices received for its rice by $235 per ton whereas Thailand had the second largest increase of $223 over five years. U.S. rice income went up by $150 per ton over the five-year period.

In general, rice exporting by the big five has increased 15 percent by volume during the first two quarters of 2011, but Thailand contributed to this number by increasing its exports by 60 percent during the first quarter, a completely amazing feat, said Zwinger.

Total exports of 30 million to 35 million metric tons is a long way from what the world demand for rice will be in 2050, and the likelihood of these five major producers being able to meet the needs of their own people (other than the U.S.) and feed the rest of the world’s hungry is unlikely.

Rapid adoption of technology is a necessity, it was noted, but there was absolutely no mention of biotech rice being part of that technology in any presentations at the conference.