Product Line 5.3. A global rice information gateway

Rationale 

The global rice information gateway aims to provide real-time crop information, medium-term supply and demand outlook, policy briefs, and comprehensive rice data sets at the national, subnational, and household level. The real-time crop monitoring and forecasting would become a vital backbone for improving planning and policy decisions as well as for strategically deploying resources and new technologies to the right areas. This information is also essential for the smooth functioning of the global rice market. The recent rice crisis is an example in which inaccurate information on the global food situation led to an export ban by major rice-exporting countries and panic by importing countries to stockpile rice to avert any possible shortage. The end result was the tripling of rice prices between November 2007 and May 2008 and an additional 100 million people falling back below the poverty level. 
        In addition, policymakers, commodity groups, and agribusiness organizations are increasingly interested in having a medium-term supply and demand outlook and knowing the impacts of expected or potential economic/trade, technological, and policy factors/trends for future policy planning and domestic food security. The quantitative assessment of domestic and trade policy reforms will also aid in harmonizing rice policies regionally and globally. These projections are expected to support government agencies, agribusiness, commodity groups, and others for their medium- to long-term planning. 
        The leading centers in GRiSP are uniquely positioned to provide unbiased policy solutions to national policymakers for sustainable rice production and accurate information on the current and future conditions of the global rice market. Apart from a multidisciplinary setting, an absolute requirement for developing a rice monitoring and forecasting system, we also have an added advantage of having field-level data and information on current crop conditions, disease problems, and other issues affecting the rice crop in various Asian and African countries that have implications for global rice production. More importantly, our constant awareness of ongoing technological and varietal developments and their possible effects on future rice yield growth makes us a leader in this area. Development of this gateway will supplement information published from FAO and IFPRI related to rice market and policy. 

Activities

The rice monitoring and forecasting system for each country will be developed by combining modern techniques such as satellite-based remote sensing with weather and crop modeling, and econometric modeling. Real-time information on rice production will be estimated using an Internet-based rice information system developed by Sarmap, a Swiss company engaged in providing and processing high-resolution radar imagery for rice crop monitoring, that would provide more timely and objective data on area and yield. This system consists of two components that make use of geospatial tools, including remote sensing, GIS, and GPS technologies. The remote-sensing component comprises a largely automated protocol using multidate radar imagery for mapping and estimating rice area and planting dates. 
        For medium-term market outlook and policy analysis, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art structural econometric model describing the behavior of the world rice market and its linkage with other agricultural and nonagricultural inputs and products will be developed to analyze national and regional policy impacts on production, consumption, trade, and prices. The econometric model will be developed using a theoretically consistent framework that captures product differentiation of rice both at the origin and with end uses and identifies spatial trade flows for a few major exporters and importers. For the major rice-producing countries in the region, rice production will be estimated in a regional framework to capture climatic differences and regional heterogeneity in availability of water and other natural resources that influence the mix of crops in various parts of a country. For the major rice-consuming countries, demand will be further disaggregated into population groups according to socioeconomic and demographic groupings. In this way, we can provide possible outcomes that are based on solid, accurate data from an individual developing country to predict how specific population groups will be affected by changes nationally or internationally. This model will also be used for ex ante and ex post impact assessment of technology interventions. Other quantitative approaches, including spatial econometrics and time-series analysis, will be used in assessing the effects of policies.
        For the world rice statistics database, national and subnational data will be updated on a regular basis and all existing household data sets will be digitized and uploaded on the Web for public access. 

Products

    5.3.1 A rice monitoring and forecasting system
    5.3.2 Rice databases to support rice policy, technology targeting, and impact assessment
    5.3.3 Medium-term outlook and quantitative assessment of domestic and trade policies
    5.3.4 Opportunities for regional integration of rice policies

Partnerships

Partners involved in PL 5.3 include CGIAR centers (IFPRI), agricultural universities, and public- and private-sector research organizations. The rice monitoring and forecasting system will be developed jointly with Sarmap. Currently, we are working together on developing a real-time monitoring system for the Philippines with active collaboration from PhilRice. Sarmap is responsible for providing the necessary technical expertise, training, and facilitation of the acquisition of high-resolution radar images from ESA. IRRI and PhilRice scientists will jointly conduct data processing, testing, and validation of the products generated. The national network of PhilRice will be used as test sites. We are also in the process of establishing partnership with National Taiwan University to expand the monitoring system to East Asian countries. More partnerships will be forged in the future as we keep expanding the system to include other major rice-growing regions in Asia. 
        The research partners for the econometric model of the global rice market include the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri-Columbia, IFPRI, and the Global Rice Marketing and Policy Research Center at the University of Arkansas. FAPRI’s expertise in stochastic modeling will be used for adding a stochastic component to our global rice model. Research collaboration will also be developed with national agricultural policy research centers for gathering subnational/regional data on area, yield, use, cost of production, and prices, and jointly developing country models. These partners will have access to a version of the global rice model that includes a full-blown country model and a reduced-form rest-of-the-world model for conducting their own market outlook and policy analyses. Some of these national partners are the National Center for Agricultural Economics and Policy, India; National Taiwan University; Department of Agricultural Planning, Myanmar; PhilRice, Philippines; and Center for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh. These national partners will also be used for disseminating policy results to national and local policymakers. 
        The development of the rice databases, particularly the subnational data of world rice statistics, needs the collaboration and timely provision of data by our national partners in charge of collecting and compiling rice and related statistics in their respective countries. Collection, validation, and processing of farm household data sets that will eventually be included in the household survey database are also done in collaboration with our national partners. We are still in the process of establishing a network among Asian rice-producing countries to facilitate the timely acquisition of secondary rice statistics at the subnational level. Our current national partners include PhilRice and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Philippines; the Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture, Thailand; and BRAC and BRRI, Bangladesh.

Uptake and impact pathway

In this era of low buffer stocks, policy choices by agencies involved in agricultural trade and the information they rely upon will continue to play a vital role in the volatility of price responses. For rice, a staple source of nutrition for more than half of the world’s population and a source of livelihood for two billion people, the wild swing in prices is a matter of serious concern for policymakers in developing countries. A regular update on global rice production can be particularly useful for rice importers in Africa and Asia in accurately sourcing and timing their import needs rather than stockpiling from the beginning of the crop marketing year with proper knowledge of their requirements and availability elsewhere. Accurate and real-time information will help stabilize the global market with lower price volatility. In the long run, such a system will benefit the poor and reduce resource misallocation. 
        In addition, timely availability of information on the effects of trade and price policies will help to identify deadweight losses, resource inefficiencies, and sources of price volatility, which will help advocates to influence policymakers for appropriate reforms. In the long run, accurate policy assessments and policy dialogue will lead to a harmonization of regional rice policies, thus facilitating greater stabilization of the global rice market. Reduced price volatility, as a result, should help to save expenditures for poor rice consumers and to reduce price risks to producers. To backstop this evolution, capacity development for NARES partners in quantitative policy analysis will complement efforts to disseminate analytical results. The information generated in this product line will be used in CGIAR TA2 (Policy) and GRiSP themes 4 and 6.  

Financing strategy

Annual investment of $1,000,000 will be needed in the next five years (2011-15) for the development and validation of the monitoring system. Initially, the system will include major Asian rice-growing regions and will be expanded to Africa and Latin American countries in the next phase. Once the system is in place, the short-term market information will be provided on a subscription basis whereas long-term market outlook and rice databases will be available to the public free of cost. It is expected that the money generated from the subscription fees will be used for the maintenance and operation of the system.
        Initial development of the global rice model has been started with support from IRRI. However, $100,000 of annual additional investment will be needed over the next five years to manage and update the global rice model for baseline outlook and policy simulations. The recently funded “Global Futures for Agriculture: Integrated Modeling and Scenario Assessment” (BMGF-IFPRI) provides some support for developing the partial-equilibrium global rice-modeling activities. 

Box 15. Impact example for product 5.3.1: Real-time crop monitoring for the global rice information gateway

For rice, any significant swing in prices is a matter of serious concern for policymakers in developing countries. Up-to-date detailed information on, for example, crop conditions and markets is in demand by policymakers, the business community, donors, aid and health agencies, scientists, the media, and farmers. Currently, the analytical capability to provide this information does not exist.

                As part of the overall global rice information gateway to be constructed in PL 5.3, a real-time crop monitoring and forecasting platform will be developed by combining modern techniques such as radar satellite-based remote sensing with weather and crop modeling, and econometric modeling. The main products will be regular updates on global rice area, production, consumption, stocks, trade, and prices; assessments of the impact of climate change on rice production in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and the identification of principal adaptation options; biannual briefings on the state of the world’s rice crop to media and policymakers; short- to medium-term market analyses and projections on global rice supply, demand, and prices; and technical and briefing reports on the impacts of various domestic and trade policies as they arise.