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Geopolitic of the rice boom

Géopolitique du riz

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Published on Thursday, April 28, 2016 by Céline Guilleux


The french journal Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer is launching a call for papers to edit a special issue on the “geopolitic of the rice boom”. The purpose is to explore the patterns of rice through its reconfigurations, its new dynamics and the new issues carried out by the rice sector in the world.


Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer is a peer-reviewed journal published by the Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux witht the support of the research unit Les Afriques dans le Monde (UMR 5115 Sciences Po Bordeaux and CNRS). The journal focuses on Global South and development dynamics. Papers both in French and English are published.

Calling for papers in a special issue on the « Geopolitics of the rice boom ». Its purpose is to explore the ongoing reconfigurations, new dynamics and the new issues in the rice sector in the world.


Since 1945 the world is going through a period of deep and plural changes at an accelerating pace. As such, the disruption of the rice map is an interesting case study at the crossroads of several main dynamics. Rice, the most cultivated cereal around the world, is considered as one of the key elements of global food security. However, the 2008 price surge showed the limit of the current system to fulfill this role, raising issues about strategic as productive stakes of the green plant in the world. It also led the states and various actors to multiply initiatives at the core of a « rice boom » we are focusing on at all possible scales.

Several transversal entry points are possible (non exhaustive list):

Governance on hunger

Rice is central to the construction of technological solutions to the hunger and food security issue – an issue problematised by international institutions after the Second World War. The so-called Green Revolution enrolls the dependency of rice culture from the Southern countries by the industries of the North. Cereal with the smallest genome and as such relatively easy to manipulate, rice is subject to an intense production of improved, hybrids or GMO varieties. Combined with the massive use of agrochemicals, mecanisation and irrigation technology, those new varieties reach extremely high yields (about 10 tons per hectare). However, the adoption of the protocol of the Green Revolution is inequal and a deep technological inequality is worsening between countries, regions and farms. Today, the yields are stagnating in the American, European and Asian production areas. The spreading of this technological package meets up with financial issues and availability of natural ressources as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Then what are the future perspectives for the Green Revolution package, symbol of technosciences? Isn’t it  running out of steam in traditionnal rice producing countries and facing deep challenges in the new producing ones? What are the power and political issues for the technological control of food production in modern states? Facing the environmental damages due to intensive agriculture, how does the discourse and narratives of the Green Revolution oppose the rising agroecology’s ones, a worldwide alternative currently gaining growing support within international institutions?

Back to the hydro-agricultural schemes ?

Irrigation, a water technology that significantly increase yields, seems to be back to the forefront particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, in Asia this widely spread technology does not have an important margin for growth in particular because of depletion of hydraulic ressources and of a steadily increasing pressure on land. In America, countries import rice mainly from the USA, Brazil or Argentina but lesser proportion than African nations import Asian rices. However, in each and every country, national food sovereignty resumes to become a political issue. Water for production projects are sources of conflicts linked to divergent interests: land use conflict, conflict of access to natural ressources, power issues at several scales especially when development projects are part of a state’s spatialization strategy, etc. At a local level, when infrastructures are public, the introduction and dissemination of new technologies as such as irrigation within agrarian societies which are not prepared for it encounter inevitably serious challenges. Facing these issues new peasant strategies emerge. Which dynamics result from the confrontation between rice schemes, land planning and peasantries? Which kind of governance is emerging on those news territories?

Reshaping the global rice economy

Thus some states choose to put national production back at the core of their agricultural agenda in order to reduce the external dependency which dates back to the period of structural adjustment plans. In Asia, despite the openness of the main rice exporters economies to international trade, rice production remains a tool of political economy to maintain social peace before being a national specialization considered as a comparative advantage. This calls for questioning the dominant ideology of liberalism and illustrates debates opposing its partisans and the ones considering the global market as unable to insure food security for the poor. The liberalization comes along with deeper integration to international market of the rural and peasant households of even the poorest countries. These families become subjects of new global dynamics such as land or production grabbing, going along with the development of the outgrowing agriculture, the enclosing processes or the globalization of the food and climate risks. Then it is legitimate to question the impacts, positive as negative, that can be caused by this new configuration of rice production on populations and environments.


Ahmadi N. et al., 2012. « Les céréales ». In: Mémento de l’agronome, Éditions du GRET, Éditions Quae, Ministère français des Affaires Étrangères, p. 777-829.

Cornilleau L., Joly P.-B., 2014. « La révolution verte, un instrument de gouvernement de la « faim dans le monde ». Une histoire de la recherche agricole internationale ». In: Le gouvernement des technosciences. Gouverner le progrès et ses dégâts depuis 1945, Pestre D. (dir), Paris : La Découverte, Coll. « Recherches »,  p. 171-201.

Janin P., 2008/4. « Crise alimentaire mondiale. Désordres et débats ». Hérodote, Les enjeux de la crise alimentaire mondiale, n° 131, p. 6-13.

Lançon F., 2012. « Le riz : un produit vivrier local ou une céréale globale ? ». In: Déméter 2012 : économies et stratégies agricoles, Paris : Club Déméter, p. 57-116.

Lavigne Delville P., Boucher L., 1998. Les bas-fonds en Afrique tropicale humide. Guide de diagnostic et d’intervention. Paris, Wageningen : Éditions du GRET, Ministère de la Coopération, CTA, coll. « Le Point sur les technologies », 416p.

Subra P., 2008/3. « L’aménagement, une question géopolitique ! ». Hérodote, Guerre et conflit, n° 130, p. 222-250.


Charlotte Torretti, University of Bordeaux Montaigne, UMR LAM « Les Afriques dans le Monde » 5115 (CNRS/Sciences Po Bordeaux).

Procedure for the submission

Full article (50 000 characters max.) or abstract (3000 words max.) with title, paper presentation, subject and methods, author’s name, institution and e-mail must be sent by e-mail (attached file .doc or .docx)

before June 30th, 2016

to Charlotte Torretti (torretti.charlotte@gmail.com) and to the editorial secretariat of the journal (c.cazenave@sciencespobordeaux.fr).

Full articles of the selected abstracts will be expected before November 2nd, 2016.



  • Thursday, June 30, 2016


  • riz, géopolitique


  • Charlotte Torretti
    courriel : torretti [dot] charlotte [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Charlotte Torretti
    courriel : torretti [dot] charlotte [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Geopolitic of the rice boom », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, April 28, 2016, https://calenda.org/360638

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