The balance of food sustainability and national security of Southeast Asia hangs on a tiny white grain.
Rice is the daily staple of 3.5 billion people globally, providing about one-fifth of their calorie needs. It is the main food crop in Asia, which includes the world’s two largest producers, China and India, and the three largest exporters, India, Vietnam and Thailand.
But as rising demand clashes with environmental threats, Southeast Asia’s rice bowl economy is struggling to stay sustainable.
Southeast Asia accounts for 40% of the world’s rice exports and rice shortages resulting from lack of supply and price hikes have in the past led to civil disobedience in countries such as Indonesia and The Philippines.