A new global consortium aimed at helped reduce the enormous environmental footprint of rice production has been announced.
The Sustainable Rice Landscapes Initiative (SRLI) will introduce sustainable approaches to farming practices, incentivise production and demand for sustainable rice with market-based instruments, deliver policy support to governments and improve knowledge sharing and collaboration on sustainable rice solutions.
The SRLI’s actions will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, restoring degraded land and conserving biodiversity.
The consortium includes UN Environment, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Sustainable Rice Platform, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the International Rice Research Institute and the German Agency for International Co-operation.
Rice is responsible for around the same greenhouse gas emissions as Germany, particularly from methane, which is emitted from rotting vegetation, known as rice straw, in inundated paddy fields.
Methane emissions could be removed by up to 70% through the introduction of climate-smart agricultural practices such as removing the rice straw but farmers are said to currently lack awareness, training, policy and market support.
SRLI is developing a $50 million (£38m) proposal for a Global Impact Programme to be funded under the Global Environment Facility, targeting a number of Asian countries for national-level actions and market-based mechanisms along the supply chain.
Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director General for Asia and the Pacific: “By working in partnership to apply scientific advances and best practices in rice landscapes, the SRLI consortium is a unique vehicle to deliver global benefits for the climate, land and water resources and biodiversity, while also ensuring the food security needs of billions of people in Asia and around the world.”