【Report】 AJI International Workshop was held! “Toward Sustainable Agriculture of Rice in Asia: Economic Challenges and Policy Aspects”

On Thursday, July 14, 2022, the International Workshop entitled “Toward Sustainable Agriculture of Rice in Asia: Economic Challenges and Policy Aspects” was held online, organized by Asia-Japan Research Institute (AJI) of Ritsumeikan University, Japan.

Professor Yasushi Kosugi, Director of the Asia-Japan Research Institute gave the introduction to the workshop and welcomed the invited speakers – seven young scholars from Asian Universities and Institutes. Then he explained the importance of rice in the daily lives of Asian people and their culture, and emphasized that studying rice cultivation while paying attention to environmental issues and policy-making at various levels is crucial for sustainability in the context of the increasing global population. He concluded by giving an outline of the schedule.

Prof. Yasushi Kosugi delivering his welcome speech

In first session, three young scholars from China, Vietnam, and Thailand gave their presentations. First, Dr. Qi Dong, a research fellow at the Economic Institute for Northeast Asia in Japan, introduced her presentation titled “Comparison of Rice Production in China and Japan: Evidence from a Panel Data Analysis”. She began by addressing the current situation of rice production and existing problems in China and Japan. Next, she explained in detail the differences in rice production costs, especially the shadow costs, and production efficiency between China and Japan. She concluded that Japanese rice production has a higher cost revenue ratio and a low efficiency compared to Chinese rice production. In the Q&A session, Dr. Qi Dong answered in detail four questions and comments from participants.

Dr. Qi Dong making her presentation

Next, Dr. Phuc Trong Ho, a lecturer at Department of Economic and Development Studies, Hue University of Economics, Vietnam, presented his research named “Impact of High-Quality Rice Variety (HQRV) on Profit and Profit Efficiency: A Sample Selection Stochastic Frontier Approach”. He explained about rice production in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam and addressed the necessity for his research, describing his research approach as a combined framework with advanced methodological models. He revealed that HQRV adopters, on average, exhibit higher variable profits than non-adopters but lower profit efficiency performance, suggesting that adopters will benefit more from HQRVs if inefficiencies are eliminated. After his informative and comprehensive presentation, several comments and questions were raised by participants.

Dr. Phuc presenting his research

The last presentation in the first session was given by Dr. Orawan Srisompun, Assistant Professor at Department of Agricultural Technology, Faculty of Technology, Mahasarakham University, Thailand. She described the frequent droughts occurring in Thailand, especially a severe event in 2019, which caused negative impacts on paddy yields resulting in insufficient rice for consumption and loss of agricultural income for farmers’ households. She also shared the information that Thai rice farmers have implemented a variety of climate change adaptation strategies to cope with drought. However, there is a need for a long-term strategy and intensive investment for drought management from public policy institutions. After her interesting and informative presentation, three participants gave their comments and questions.

Dr. Orawan Srisompun giving her talk

In the second session, four young scholars from Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom introduced their presentations. First, Dr. Ho Thanh Tam, a senior researcher at Ritsumeikan Asia-Japan Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University, Japan presented her research with the title “Rice Production for Sustainable Agriculture: Case Studies in Vietnam and Japan”. She began by pointing out the adverse impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector, especially rice cultivation, and emphasizing that sustainable agriculture can be a part of solution. She also described the current situation of rice production in Vietnam and Japan. Next, she gave an economic analysis of the effects of climate change responses on rice production in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam and a review of sustainable rice agriculture and related policies in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. She concluded her presentation with a review of economic and policy challenges for rice production in Vietnam and Japan and received comments and questions from participants.

Dr. Thanh Tam Ho making her presentation

Then, Mr. Pushp Kumar, a doctoral candidate from Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, India, introduced his presentation entitled “Climate Change and Rice Production in India: Role of Ecological and Carbon Footprint”. He talked about the negative impacts of climate change on crop production and emphasized the role of the ecological and carbon footprint in measuring the impact of climate change in India from 1982 – 2016. Focusing on a methodological approach for his estimation, he reported that the ecological and carbon footprint had positive effects on rice production in India in the long-run. Finally, he concluded that the implementation of improved risk management strategies to deal with potential climate scenarios is crucial for the government and the rice farmers. After his interesting presentation, participants gave their comments and questions.

Mr. Pushp Kumar talking about his research

Next, Dr. Mohammad Rondhi, an Associate Professor at the Department of Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jember, Indonesia, gave his presentation titled “The Effect of Risk Preference and Farmer Perception on Climate Change to Farmer Participation on Farm Insurance”. He introduced the current situation of rice production in Indonesia under climate change, and described the national policy for climate change adaptation. Then he explained how farmers perceive climate change impacts on rice farming and investigated factors influencing farmer’s participation in the national insurance scheme. Furthermore, he revealed that farmers’ incomes were significantly different between national insurance participants and non-participants. He finally concluded that the national insurance program is important for rice farmers in medium and high-risk areas. Participants actively contributed their comments and questions to Dr. Rondhi’s presentation.

Dr. Mohammad Rondhi giving his presentation

The last presentation in the second session was given by Dr. Melanie Connor, Head of Knowledge Impact, and Policy at the Institute of Development Studies in the U.K., and a researcher at International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She presented her research with the title of “From Science to Policy – Sustainable Rice Production in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam”. She began with a general introduction to her project on rice in Southeast Asian countries and then focused on rice production in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, and the national program “One Must do and Five Reductions (1M5R) which means farmers 1) must use good quality rice, while reducing 1) seed rates, 2) pesticide use, 3) fertilizer inputs, 4) water use, and 5) postharvest losses. She made several analyses. First, she revealed the benefits, barriers, and factors that influence farmers’ adoption of the 1M5R program. Then, she explained about psychological factors that influence the acceptance of sustainable farming practices related to rice straw management among rice farmers. Regarding the last findings, she discussed consumer acceptance and willingness to pay for sustainably produced rice in Vietnam. She covered both producers/farmers and consumers in her research, and expressed the conclusion regarding policy aspects that the 1M5R program is suitable for farmers’ conditions in the Mekong Delta and has also been modified for application in Lao PDR and Thailand.

Dr. Melanie Connor presenting her research

Session two ended with a closing discussion which received many interesting comments and suggestions from all the invited speakers. Their informative and insightful contributions gave a big encouragement to the workshop participants and promising opportunities for future collaboration.

In his closing speech, Prof. Koji Shimada, College of Economics, Ritsumeikan University, expressed his appreciation to the speakers, the organizing committee members, the moderators, and all the participants for their great contributions to the success of this wonderful event.

Prof. Koji Shimada giving the closing remarks and thanks to all participants