Olam International, Ltd

Sustainable Rice Platform: Improving farmer livelihoods and fighting climate change Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

Olam International, Ltd

Singapore, Central Singapore Community Development Council, Singapore


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Half of the world’s population depends on rice as a daily staple. Rice cultivation provides livelihood for 144 million resource-poor smallholder farmers. It is the second-largest source of man-made methane emissions contributing to climate change, draws on increasingly scarce water resources, and is responsible for agrochemical overuse. Production must increase 44% by 2050, compounding stresses.The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a holistic system to meet the demand for rice sustainably, with smallholders in developing countries as the primary beneficiary. SRP incentivizes uptake of sustainable best practices, strengthens capacity of stakeholders to implement changes, and measures the impacts of change. Impacts are improved farmer livelihood (income, health), minimized environmental footprint (emissions, water, biodiversity), and sustainable rice in the market (food safety, responsible consumption).This proven system improves rice production in any geography. Let’s reach 1 million farmers in five countries to create transformational change in the global rice sector.

Problem Statement

Rice cultivation is the second-largest source of man-made methane emissions globally, a gas that contributes to climate change. Climate change is expected to reduce future rice yields, causing risk to food security worldwide, particularly to half of the world’s population depending on rice as a daily staple. Rice cultivation uses 40% of the world’s freshwater. Up to 3,700 liters of water is needed to produce one kilogram of rice. This reduces freshwater availability for human consumption and other uses, contributing to increasing frequency and severity of water conflicts. Common practices for rice cultivation such as overuse of agrochemicals, further degrades water quality, ecosystem integrity, and human health. The rice value chain comprises 144 million smallholder farmers, mostly in Asia and Africa. Rice production is hugely correlated to world poverty. Ninety percent of the world’s rice is produced in Asia, and 70% of the world’s poor live in Asia. As rice remains a low-priced crop, producers lack the incentives to adopt more sustainable practices, compounding environmental stresses and often trapping producers in poverty.If smallholder farmers could access practical information to help them select sustainable best practices suited for their context, rice could be grown more efficiently – reducing unnecessary water, agrochemicals, and other inputs use all while not lowering yields. Smallholder farmers could produce at lower cost, increase net income, protect their health, and cut the environmental footprint of rice cultivation. This could provide strong incentives for farm-level investment in sustainable best practices.

Solution Overview

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a holistic system to meet the growing demand for rice sustainably, while increasing economic and social benefit to farmers as the primary beneficiary and minimizing environmental footprint. The SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation (world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice) and SRP Performance Indicators (sustainability impact indicators aligned with the Standard) allow for concrete progress toward adoption of best practices in rice cultivation and for quantitative measurement of sustainability impacts at farm level. This is supplemented by an Assurance Scheme (to create market differentiation for sustainable rice) and data collection tools to aggregate and validate claims and impacts at intervals. The system is delivered through capacity-building programs for farmers, NGOs, public officials, and private sector, and agronomic and environmental expertise. Interventions can be scaled through SRP National Chapters (for adaptation and implementation in-country) and digitization of monitoring and reporting.SRP has to date reached thousands of farmers through its global network. On average SRP farmers have seen a 10% increase in farmers’ income, 20% in water savings, and 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.SRP has a tested scaling model to increase farmer numbers 2.6-fold annually by building cadres of lead farmers and engaging with local extension offices. An example, in 2016 Olam and GIZ put the SRP system into practice in Thailand with 71 farmers. Today, this project reaches over 6,000 farmers. With US$100 million, we can scale this system to reach 1 million farmers in five countries, in five years.

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