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Calls for sustainable rice in the face of global warming

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The rice sector is facing increasing impact from climate change.CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP

Calls for sustainable rice in the face of global warming

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) has called for private-public partnerships to secure a sustainable global rice supply while the sector is being increasingly impacted by climate change.

At the 8th Annual Plenary and General Assembly of the SRP held in Siem Reap this week, 150 delegates from its membership across 24 countries discussed emerging multi-stakeholder partnerships to transform the global rice sector.

The delegates called on governments, retailers and brands to work together with scientists, financial institutions and development partners to promote the most effective climate-smart practises among rice smallholders.

“Stakeholders can make a major contribution to the upscaling of climate-smart production practises,” the platform said, adding that a coordinated approach will ensure an enabling policy and market environment, entailing measures such as financial and market instruments, reduced tariffs and the creation of new market incentives.

“Urgent action is needed to improve the sustainability of the world’s rice supply, in the face of mounting impacts of climate change and water scarcity on the world’s 144 million rice smallholder farmers,” the SRP said.

The event, co-organised by SRP, the Wildlife Conservation Society (Cambodia) and the International Finance Corporation, was presided over by the Kingdom’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation assistant director-general and Asia-Pacific regional representative Kundhavi Kadiresan said the standards seek to create a market for sustainable rice.

It will answer the need to generate profit for farmers and businesses and produce better-tasting rice for consumers while minimising the impact on the environment.

In her keynote speech at the SRP plenary meeting and general assembly, Kadiresan said: “SRP is serious about providing the means to produce rice that’s better – better for farmers, better for the environment and better for agribusiness.

“There’s so much more we need to do. If it was actually all very easy, it would have been all done by now,” she told an audience of some 150 researchers, agriculturists, government representatives and private sector partners.

In Cambodia last year, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mars Food and Battambang Rice Investment Co Ltd launched a partnership to promote the sustainable development of the Kingdom’s rice industry.

SRP said improving rice production and enhancing linkages with the global rice value chain will help Cambodia’s agri-sector expand market access, increase export value and improve farmers’ livelihoods.

“Over the next three years, about 9,000 smallholder farmers will benefit from exposure to sustainable farming practices, climate-smart agriculture technologies and financial literacy training,” it said.

First introduced in October 2015, SRP sought to mitigate the impact of rice farming to the environment. Per the UN’s estimates, rice production uses 40 per cent of the world’s irrigation water, and rice fields cause 10 per cent of global methane emissions.

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