Rice needs climate change investments

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    Silent contributor. Rice contributes about 1.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
    Silent contributor. Rice contributes about 1.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

    More investments in climate change initiatives for rice crops should be made globally as the crop is silently contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

    “Rice contributes about 1.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, but doesn’t receive nearly as much of global climate investment. This disproportionate attention is unfortunate, as there are significant opportunities for reducing climate impact while increasing profitability and resilience through new technologies. With greater investment, this is possible,” said Bjoern Ole Sander, Vietnam representative of the IRRI.

    In a statement, IRRI said flooded rice fields account for around 10 percent of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases and rice being a water-intensive crop, typically consuming 2,000 to 3,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram, also increases water scarcity in surrounding areas.

    IRRI also said even after harvest, rice straws burned in many Asian countries release toxic chemicals that pollute the air and degrade soil fertility.

    However, the group said such issues can be still resolved by a wider use of alternate wetting and drying, laser land leveling and digital tools and apps that can be implemented and scaled up to achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient water use and better rice straw management, while still maintaining or even increasing prouctivity.

    “A proportionate increase to 1.5 percent of the global climate investment directed towards rice production solutions, for example in irrigation and mechanization, will create significant impact in disseminating these proven technologies and practices to farmers,” Sander said.

    Matty Demont, IRRI’s outcome theme lead for shaping future rice value chains and policies, said rice consumers also have a role to play in promoting climate investment for the said crop.

    “Increased awareness and demand for sustainably sourced rice can drive governments and the private sector to make sustainability a policy and market priority. By making sustainability top-of-mind, we can begin to affect changes that will benefit not only the planet, but also everyone in the rice sector, from producer to consumer,” Demont added.

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