SRI: A Nature-Based Approach for Rice Cultivation Providing a Triple Win for People, Planet and Prosperity
Rice is a significant crop for the world. Rice plays a critical role in food security being the staple crop for over half the world’s population. It is central to the daily activities of many, with over 1 billion people relying on it for their livelihoods. It is also used for ceremonial purposes, medicinal and religious uses. The majority of rice producers worldwide are small-holder farmers, living on the front-line of climate change, trying to secure steady food and income.
However, traditional rice cultivation severely impacts the natural environment. Covering around 167 million hectares globally, rice is an incredibly thirsty crop using on average 34-43% of the world’s irrigation water, with around 2,500 litres of water needed to produce 1 kilogram of rice. Due to continually flooding paddy fields, rice emits around 10% of global methane emissions making it the second biggest producer of methane in agriculture. Rice farmers’ dependence on agrochemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides adds to the adverse intensive land-use, depleting agricultural soils polluting the surrounding environments and further undermining resilience.
With the world’s population estimated to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, food and agricultural land demands are only set to increase. But without radical change to the way we farm, our food security, climate impacts, and social development will regress. Agricultural systems are fundamental to the survival and prosperity of every nation, but adaptation is necessary to transition to ecologically resilient methods that support sufficient productivity.