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The westernisation of Asian diets

30 September 2004

Rapid economic and income growth and urbanization are leading to a dramatic shift of Asian diets away from staples and increasingly towards livestock and dairy products, vegetables and fruit, fats and oils according to Professor Randy Stringer, the Chief of the Comparative Studies Service at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Professor Stringer was speaking at the 4th International Crop Science Congress in Brisbane, which has brought together over 1000 delegates from 65 countries to focus on the key issues for cropping systems that provide food, feed and fibre for the world.

He explained that the trend is reinforced by globalization leading to a convergence of world urban diets.

“One factor is the spread of supermarkets and acceptance of fast and convenience foods,” says Professor Stringer.

“Rice consumption per capita is falling while that of wheat products and high protein and energy foods, often of temperate origin, is increasing,” he says.

The implications for Asian agriculture are substantial. Traditional rice-based systems will face pressure to move towards more diversified and commercialized production systems.

“There are prospects for small farmers to benefit from these opportunities but they must be balanced with risk, land suitability and tenure, irrigation infrastructure, and labour constraints,” says Professor Stringer.

“If farmers are to benefit, appropriate investments in crop research and policy reform, which can alleviate these barriers, are also needed,” he concluded.

4ICSC would like to thank all its supporters including the following major sponsors:
AusAID, CSIRO, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and QDPI

More information:
Cathy Reade, Media Manager, 4th International Crop Science Congress
Mobile: 0413 575 934

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