BASEL, SWITZERLAND, - "With over 65 percent of the world's hungry in Asia, progress in rice productivity is still lagging behind the advancements of other crops," said Mike Mack, Syngenta CEO, speaking today at the International Rice Congress (IRC) in Hanoi, Vietnam. "Technology, the environment and people must be holistically addressed if we want rice to reach its full potential."


At current consumption levels, the Asia Society and International Rice Research Institute estimate that rice production needs to grow by some four million metric tons each year to meet population growth. "This is a tremendous challenge, especially when you consider how much rice cultivation is being lost to urban expansion and the inherent competing demands for water," said Mack. "We must ensure farmers have better integrated solutions that include seed improvements and responsible crop protection methods, and more efficient use of land and water to incentivize them to grow crops more productively."


Mack urged collaborations to be a top priority in developing rice and supporting smallholder farmers. "The extension and transfer of knowledge is vital to improving rice productivity," said Mack. "Collaborations and partnerships must be embraced more extensively if we want to build a sustainable livelihood in rural economies for the world's smallholder farmers, including the more than 200 million rice farmers in Asia, while helping to meet food security."


Rice provides 60 percent of the calorie intake for more than two billion people every day. With 90 percent of the world's rice grown in Asia, the third International Rice Congress 2010, took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, to emphasize the importance of this key rice producing country. Themed 'Rice for Future Generations', Mike Mack joined the event alongside other speakers including Dr. Prabhu Pingali , Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Hans Herren , President, The Millennium Institute, and Dr. Kevin Gallagher, FAO Senior Staff.


Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 25,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us please go to www.syngenta.com.


SOURCE: Syngenta