World’s first sustainable rice partnership in the running for MacArthur Foundation US$100 million grant
The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) - of which Olam International is a founding member - has been shortlisted for a US$100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundationi, for improving the livelihoods of 500,000 rice farmers while reducing environmental impacts.
There is a paradox where rice is vital to food security yet simultaneously has the largest carbon footprint of all food crops. By 2050, rice production will need to almost double to meet the population demand, which under current conditions, will require additional land equivalent to the size of Chile, and add 300 billion kgs of CO2 equivalent emissions.
The Sustainable Rice Platform, or SRP, first conceived by the United Nations and the International Rice Research Institute, is addressing the “rice paradox” through a framework for increasing production in a sustainable way. The multi-stakeholder alliance comprises 100 global public, private and civil society organisations, and promotes resource-use efficiency and climate change resilience, both on-farm and throughout the rice value chain.
The SRP principles were first put to the test in a pilot project implemented by Olam, in partnership with the Thai Rice Department and German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Starting with 71 farmers in 2016, the project in Thailand has trained over 6,000 farmers to date on climate-smart practices and has produced the world’s first fully-verified sustainable rice.
Today, SRP projects have reached 500,000 rice farmers across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, with notable results including a 10% increase in farmers’ income, 20% savings in water use and 50% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reach 1 million farmers by 2023.
The programme has subsequently been designated as one of the Top 100, in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition, in recognition of its “real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time”.