Rice Farming

 - Rice Producers Forum -

Rice Congress of the Americas:
Make plans for Miami

By Dwight Roberts
President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks to IBC Asia (S) Pte Ltd and The Rice Trader publication, the Rice Congress of the Americas became more than just a dream for the U.S. Rice Producers Association (USRPA) with the inaugural congress taking place in Cancun, Mexico, in May of 2007.

Representatives from some 22 countries in the Western Hemisphere gathered to discuss the market conditions, policies and trends that were shaping the moment and the future. A rice conference for the Americas, long an idea of the USRPA that would bring together the trade from Canada to Argentina has quickly grown from its infant stage to an important event where the major players gather to wheel and deal. This event coincides with the USRPA’s priorities and commitment to building strong relationships within the markets of the Western Hemisphere.

Dynamics of world rice trade discussed
The 2nd Rice Congress of the Americas 2008 (April) took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and participants were not disappointed as some 37 countries, many from outside of the Western Hemisphere, gathered to discuss the dynamics of the world rice trade and its affects on the Americas. While the conference was being conducted, Walmart and Costco announced rice rationing in the United States, and Brazil announced an export ban giving the congress an even higher level of importance as the place to be at the moment.

The schedule of speakers for the event and the topics were of strategic interests to the overflowing number of participants.

Ricardo Ferres, president of the Mercosur milling confederation (Conmasur) gave the industry presentation, while Charles Pinto, from Seacor Holding Inc., gave the audience some issues to think about with his presentation on the growth of the South American rice industry and events influencing the world rice trade. Bob Papanos (The Rice Trader) gave a rice trade outlook with an emphasis on the Americas that sparked a large number of questions leading to a good and open discussion among those in attendance. Representatives from the Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) gave individual country reports, and Patricio Mendez del Villar from CIRAD gave an overview of the current rice trade in the Americas.

Promoting rice consumption in the Americas
The challenges in promoting rice consumption in the Americas was a subject suggested by the participants from the previous year. Dwight Roberts (United States), Tiago Barata (Brazil), Luis Mazariegos (Guatemala) and John Chiang (Canada) presented case studies and examples of promotional campaigns and their results.

Of particular interest was the keynote address of a rice futures market in Brazil or the Mercosur by Dr. Silvia Miranda from the Research Center for Advanced Studies on Applied Economics at the University of Sao Paulo. The speech was followed by a panel session from Valter Potter, president of the Rio Grande do Sul rice producers federation, Rubens Silveira, marketing director for IRGA and Zelio Hocsman of Cereals Pampeiro.

The always popular Dr. Bill Wilson (North Dakota State University) discussed the changing dynamics and opportunities with regards to agribusiness in the Americas, while Plinio Nastari, president of Datagro-Brazil, presented the ethanol, biofuel and crop choices for agri-industries. Prof. Colin Carter (UC-Davis) talked on the WTO and Trade in the Americas, Pierre Boucher from Ricelab, Guyana, discussed the Caribbean rice market and Jeremy Zwinger gave the participants his thoughts on the falling U.S. dollar.

As evidenced by the fact that participants from some 16 countries from outside of the Western Hemisphere attended the 2008 Rice Congress of the Americas is a good indication of the increasing importance of the Americas in world rice trade. So mark your calendar to be in Miami, Fla., for the 2009 event and stay informed by reading the USRPA’s Rice Advocate (info@usriceproducers.com or via www.usriceproducers.com).

For more about USRPA, visit www.usriceproducers.com.