Learn more about how the world’s largest food staple is at risk,
and how you can help transform it.
Rice and food systems.
Rice feeds the world. Over 3.5 billion people around the world rely on rice as a staple part of their diet. Almost 60% of people experiencing hunger globally live in rice-dependent geographies where rice represents more than 40% of their annual cereal diet. Changes in supply or price harm poorer households for whom rice can account for up to half of monthly spending.
Rice and livelihoods.
Rice provides livelihoods for nearly 1 billion people, but that livelihood lacks resilience. The world’s 144 million rice smallholders disproportionately bear the risks of production, but are inadequately equipped to safeguard their livelihoods against turmoil – ranging from the current COVID-19 pandemic and its health and economic impacts, to the climate crisis. Women farmers, who contribute up to 80% of farm labor while also overseeing the education and health of households, go unrecognized for their essential contributions and remain systemically excluded. Paradoxically, those who grow food are among the world’s most vulnerable and food-insecure.
Rice and climate change.
Climate change can trigger a collapse in the rice supply – and the entire food system. The health of land and water is vital for rice production but is at increasing risk. Rice cultivation is a leading driver of habitat loss in wetlands and forests, uses one-third of the world’s freshwater, and is responsible for 10% of global man-made methane emissions. Climate impacts alone are expected to lead to reductions in global rice supply of up to 15% by 2050. Maintaining current rice yields will thus be an enormous challenge. Under conventional production methods, this may require an additional land area equivalent to the size of Chile and further increase emissions by 300 MT CO2equivalent.
Switching to sustainable practices in rice cultivation can boost farmers’ net incomes by 10-20%, reduce water use by up to 20% and cut methane emissions from flooded rice fields by up to 50%.
But with 144 million rice producers globally, no single actor can effect transformational change.
There is limited awareness of how a sustainable rice sector can help governments, businesses and the international community achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our challenge and necessity is to ensure that sustainable rice is a centerpiece for action – and to engage the spectrum of stakeholders in rice value chains from producers to consumers – to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Together, we can move the needle toward a new norm for the sector.