The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has teamed up with partners in an initiative to ensure that rice, one of the world’s major food crops, is produced in ways that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible, while boosting yields for both commercial and subsistence farmers.
The Sustainable Rice Platform, an initiative of UNEP, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Louis Dreyfus Commodities and Kellogg Company, will promote the use of technologies and improved rice farming practices for better harvest, while keeping the environment healthy, according to UNEP.
It will also facilitate safer working conditions and higher incomes to alleviate poverty and enhance food security.
At the inaugural meeting of the Platform at IRRI’s headquarters in the Philippines earlier this week, government representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam and Myanmar, international and Asia-based companies and non-government organizations (NGOs) expressed their support and interest in the initiative.
“The Sustainable Rice Platform provides opportunities for promoting resource use efficiency and sustainable trade flows throughout the value chain of the global rice sector and deliver real results to the lives of rice farmers,” said James Lomax, the UNEP Programme Officer for Agriculture and Food, who initiated the Sustainable Rice Platform.
Rice presents a unique challenge for any quality control system because it is mostly grown by hundreds of thousands of poor farmers who have only very small farms of less than one hectare each. Moreover, 90 per cent of rice is grown in developing countries in Asia where access to knowledge and support is limited.
The Platform will encourage national agricultural departments to explore and test management practices to make them relevant and to promote them to rice farmers. NGOs and companies will assist in developing sustainability criteria to safeguard or improve environmental health.
Rice farmers, as well as production, processing or trade organizations and businesses, will use the Platform to secure a sustainable rice system and explore incentive mechanisms for farmers to grow rice more sustainably.