Rice farmers are among the world's most vulnerable to climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, salinity, temperature rise, drought and flooding.
Rice is the daily staple for more than 3.5 billion people, accounting for 19% of dietary energy globally.-IRRI
The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation is the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice.
Thailand’s Rice Department, GIZ, OLAM and UTZ have jointly conducted a pilot implementation of the SRP Sustainable Rice Cultivation Standard with two rice farmer groups in Ubon Ratchathani province in late 2016. This activity was also considered as one of Better Rice Initiative Asia’s (BRIA) interventions to improve market access for resource-poor rice farmers in selected areas.
The collaborative project commenced with an orientation for participating farmers, followed by a full training programme. Three months after it was launched, an external audit was conducted to verify compliance of the farmers with the SRP Standard, revealing an impressive 84% farmer compliance. The independent third party assessment was conducted by OneCert auditors, who were trained and accompanied by assurance experts from UTZ.
During the pilot implementation phase, Olam International played an active role in facilitating liquidity for participating farmers. The company engaged a major local miller who agreed to buy the entire production from the farmers at the most competitive price. This arrangement guaranteed a better price for participating farmers as it simplified the value chain by avoiding brokers and other middle-men. By the end of the pilot phase of the project, a total of 400 tonnes of rice had been produced.
The success of the activity can be attributed to the strong commitment and contributions by participating organizations from different sectors. It is expected that the pilot will be extended to more farmer groups in the coming years.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has trained 150 farmers in Kampong Thom Province to produce rice according to the SRP Standard, with the support of the Battambang Rice Investment, Co. and Mars Food. A National SRP Working Group coordinates multi-stakeholder activities, coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia Rice Federation, private sector actors and NGOs.
Following Mars Food’s commitment to 100% sustainable rice sourcing, some rice farmers in Haryana state were invited to participate in the pilot testing of the SRP Standard. Mars in collaboration with UTZ, promoted the implementation of a farm management system, as well as an Internal Management system to strengthen the capacity of participating farmers and millers to adopt sustainable best practices.
As part of Mars Food’s commitment to source 100% of its rice sustainably, Mars partnered with UTZ to implement a pilot test of the SRP Standard with rice farmers in Punjab province. Main activities included: 1) Assessment of the SRP Standard; 2) Building capacity of farmers to adopt sustainable practices; and 3) Implementation of a farm management system.
GIZ-BRIA has joined with Thailand’s Rice Department (RD) and Olam International to pilot the SRP Standard among farmer groups. Following a baseline survey of a group of 32 rice farmers in Det Udom District of Ubol Ratchathani Province, northeastern Thailand, a 10-module training course was provided to enhance farmers’ skills and promote adoption of the SRP Standard.
The Loc Troi Group, a leading Vietnamese rice exporter, recently harvested its first crop of “SRP Rice”, grown by 150 farmers in the southern provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Kien Giang. Preliminary findings indicate lower seed rates, chemical use, and water pumping costs. Net incomes were improved by 18% compared with non-participating farmers. The programme will be expanded to 4,000 farmers in 2017.