World’s first sustainable rice partnership shortlisted for US$100m grant

ASIA – The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a multi-stakeholder platform that seeks to promote efficiency and sustainability in the in the global rice sector, has been shortlisted for a US$100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

The platform has set out a goal of providing actors in the global rice sector with sustainable production standards and outreach mechanisms that contribute to an increase of global supply of affordable rice, improved livelihoods of rice producers and a reduction of the environmental impact of rice production.

While acknowledging that rice is vital to food security, the commodity is yet the largest carbon footprint of all food crops.

By 2050, it is estimated that rice production will need to almost double to meet the population demand, which under current conditions, will require additional land equivalent to the size of Chile, and add 300 billion kgs of CO2 equivalent emissions. 

SRP first conceived by the United Nations and the International Rice Research Institute, is addressing this “rice paradox” through a framework for increasing production in a sustainable way.

The multi-stakeholder alliance comprises 100 global public, private and civil society organisations, and promotes resource-use efficiency and climate change resilience, both on-farm and throughout the rice value chain.

The SRP principles were first put to the test in a pilot project implemented by Olam, in partnership with the Thai Rice Department and German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Starting with 71 farmers in 2016, the project in Thailand has trained over 6,000 farmers to date on climate-smart practices and has produced the world’s first fully-verified sustainable rice.

Today, SRP projects have reached 500,000 rice farmers across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, with notable results including a 10% increase in farmers’ income, 20% savings in water use and 50% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The platform has a goal to reach 1 million farmers by 2023. 

To echo SRP’s efforts in sustainably transforming the rice sector, the platform  has subsequently been designated as one of the Top 100, in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition, in recognition of its “real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time”.

Commenting on the announcement, Olam Co-founder & Group CEO Sunny Verghese said: “With the SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, we have a definition and proven model for sustainable rice.

“Together with our partners, Olam is aiming to bring 150,000 rice farmers in our Asia and Africa supply chains under the standard by 2023 and we’ll be monitoring the impact through our sustainable sourcing tool, AtSource.”

Wyn Ellis, Executive Director, Sustainable Rice Platform added: “Transforming the global rice sector to meet our future food needs sustainably requires broad-scale collaboration among business and society.

“While the SRP Standard and Indicators for Sustainable Rice Cultivation provide proven technological solutions for rice smallholders, 100&Change now offers a unique opportunity to work with Olam, GIZ and SRP stakeholders to scale up adoption of climate-smart, sustainable best practices among resource-poor smallholders and contribute to a range of SDGs.”

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