International Rice Research Institute

Mega-deltas Mega-resilience

Lead Organization

International Rice Research Institute

Los Banos, Calabarzon, Philippines

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Project Summary

Farmers’ lives in mega-deltas are increasingly tenuous due to climate change. Extreme weather conditions affect farm productivity, farmer livelihoods, and global food supply. Climate-resilient varieties are a critical component for farmers to cope with climate uncertainty. Unfortunately, easy access to their seeds is impeded by information and capacity gaps and poor regulation and policy. Working in partnership with the public and private sectors in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Vietnam, our initiative will enable our partners to provide the right seed to the right people at the right time. To achieve this, we will (1) create digital farmer profiles with data about the farmers, their farms and their environment to identify the most appropriate seed varieties, (2) provide and popularize climate-resilient varieties for staple foods and create a strengthened seed system for these varieties, and (3) create a platform for South-South collaboration to maximize the potential of seed distribution networks.

Problem Statement

Asian mega-deltas are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Damage and losses from climate extremes occur every year and threaten the livelihoods of tens of millions of people. Floods, droughts, and increased salinity affect 46 million farmers across Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Vietnam. These countries make up almost 20% of the world’s rice production. To have a food secure future, we need to make sure that these farmers are armed with the tools to adapt to climate change. For decades, scientists have been developing climate-resilient varieties, but often they remain out of the reach of the farmers who have a real need for them. Farmers are often not aware of these varieties and where they can be sourced and, therefore, there is no demand. The lack of robust seed systems and effective linkages between different actors means that many new varieties are never incorporated into seed value chains. Governments are also not equipped with the tools and solutions to provide readily available and customized advisories to enable farmers to select the most appropriate varieties based on land type, farmer needs, and specific farm conditions. These are some of the core challenges to seed distribution in the mega-deltas. By unlocking these constraints, we believe we can get climate-resilient seeds into the hands of farmers, mitigating the impact of climate change, and ensuring profitable livelihoods and food security at both the farmer and national levels.

Solution Overview

We propose to directly address the binding constraints of seed distribution networks in these Asian mega-deltas: information gaps and demand creation, access to seeds of climate resilient varieties, and enabling policy and regulatory frameworks. Our solution is through three approaches: First, we will create a composite digital identification platform for farmers that layers data on farming practices, the field, and environment that will allow tailored recommendations, best crop management practices, value chain linkages, and planning based on the data. Second, we will introduce and popularize climate-resilient rice varieties and strengthen seed systems, beginning with a focus on drought, flood, and salt-tolerant varieties. IRRI developed, with our national partners, over 80 varieties from 2011-2017 with these characteristics. The critical next step is getting these seeds into the hands of farmers who need them and reap the benefits of planting them.Finally, we will create a platform for South-South collaboration for knowledge sharing, building on the model of “Seeds without Borders,” the initiative where IRRI acted as an honest broker across nine Asian countries for regional seed cooperation and coordination. This holistic approach addresses constraints at regional, national, farmer, and field-specific levels. Over five years, we estimate that 26 million hectares of rice farms in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Vietnam could be planted with climate-resilient varieties, making them more food and income secure. When farmers have access to the right seeds, at the right time, with the right information, they can mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

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