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ClimateRice: a New Initiative to Drive the Transition to Climate-Smart Rice

11 June 2024

Rice is an enormous contributor to climate change, but proven alternatives exist

Growing rice produces 12% of man-made methane emissions and uses 33% of global freshwater for irrigation, while global demand for rice increases. Pesticide and chemical fertilizer overuse harms soil, plants, animals, and humans. The way rice is grown needs to change, which is complicated: 80% of the world's rice is produced by smallholder farmers in more than 100 countries. Conventional solutions focus on input-based technologies, such as the use of new germplasm, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides to boost rice yields. These solutions are expensive, create dependencies, produce environmental damage, and yet remain highly vulnerable to climate change.

A climate-resilient rice production alternative exists, based on agronomy and agroecology. It is called the System of Rice Intensification or SRI. SRI is a simple planting method where rice is grown in non-flooded, organically enriched soils with larger spacing between each plant, giving plant roots and shoots room to grow, which increases their grain productivity. With less seed (-90%), water (-50%), and chemical inputs (-30-100%), the rice crop grows healthier and obtains higher yields (+20-100%). SRI is a scientifically proven method that has been successfully introduced in over 60 countries but is currently only used by 5% of rice farmers. Most of this pioneering work has depended on grant-funded projects. However, funding cycles of three to five years are too short to change an agricultural system and create a lasting impact.

The ClimateRice approach to scaling SRI

Cornell University's Climate-Resilient Farming Systems Program and CarbonFarm have teamed up to launch the ClimateRice Initiative to address the global urgency of methane reduction and food security.

ClimateRice will leverage carbon finance to accelerate the adoption of SRI for millions of rice smallholders throughout the world, leading to significant reductions in methane emissions and freshwater use while increasing food security and resilience to climate shocks.

The ClimateRice idea is simple. ClimateRice will work with local partner organizations to train and support farmers in their transition to SRI. The reductions in methane emissions achieved will then be scientifically quantified through satellite monitoring and certified as carbon credits. The credits generated will then be sold to remunerate farmers and fund more training. This mechanism will create a virtuous self-financing model to fund the global scaling of climate-resilient rice production.

Source : yahoo