According to the United Nations' World Food Program, one in seven people do not eat enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Chronic malnutrition affects 24 percent of children under five; in the world's poorest nations, the rate rises to 40 percent. Rice is an excellent choice for food aid as it is easily digestible, hypoallergenic, culturally acceptable in most countries, easy to transport, easy-to-prepare, and versatile.
The United States is consistently ranked among the top five rice-exporting nations and in the 2010/2011 crop year (August 2010-July 2011), American rice farmers produced 24.31 billion pounds of rice, including long-, medium- and short-grain rice as well as aromatics, and exported approximately 45 percent. Globally, U.S. rice has a strong reputation for quality, purity, safety and reliability.
Additionally, rice contains all 20 amino acids and all nine indispensable amino acids in amounts that qualify the protein in rice as high quality (rice is seven to eight percent protein). As a complex carbohydrate, rice contains fiber vitamins and minerals and is digested slowly. It is an ideal food for high-risk populations including infants and people living with HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis or other individuals who have compromised digestive systems.
USA Rice Federation has a strategic plan for food aid and is actively working with the U.S. government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or private volunteer organizations (PVOs) to encourage the use of rice in food aid. The latest example is the support provided to rice monetization efforts in Liberia.
Rice has become a larger component of U.S. food aid shipments in the past few years. In FY2007, over 97,000 metric tons (MT) of rice was sent to countries in need. In FY2011, shipments increased to 140,500 MT; and to date in FY2012, U.S. rice in food aid totals 151,600 MT.