Farmers’ organisations to roll out SRP standard for sustainable rice cultivation

Farmers’ organisations to roll out SRP standard for sustainable rice cultivation

03/09/2019
This news is part of the following focus area:
Christ Vansteenkiste
Christ Vansteenkiste
Rice Cluster Coordinator

Last year Rikolto tested the implementation of the standard for sustainable rice cultivation with 12 farmers’ organisations worldwide. In the report that you can download on this page, we share our insights with you.

But first: is this SRP standard just another new label? And why are we convinced that complying with the standard is a major step towards a more sustainable world?

Well, one in five people on our planet earn a living from rice. These rice producers are now already one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of the impact of climate change. Droughts, floods and rising sea levels seriously affect yields. Conversely, paddy fields also contribute to climate change, as they generate large quantities of greenhouse gases: about 10% of global methane emissions come from rice paddies. At the same time, global demand for rice is rising sharply.

Working towards the same goal

So how can we make rice farming more sustainable so that we can meet this future global demand for safe, healthy rice, while protecting our planet and safeguarding smallholder livelihoods?

That’s where the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) comes in: a global multi-stakeholder partnership created to promote sustainable rice cultivation. It is now made up of over a hundred institutional members, including government agencies, private-sector participants, research and policy institutions, and non-profit organisations. Major players in the rice market, such as OLAM, Mars and Ebro, are also members.

Rikolto has sat on the advisory board since 2015 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2018. We helped develop the SRP performance indicators and other tools.

The SRP standard is a performance standard and not a pass-fail standard, as with most labels. Using a scoring system, it allows stepwise compliance in order to encourage and reward progress in improving agricultural practices.

The scoring system makes it possible to monitor progress and impact in terms of reduction in water use, input use efficiency, food safety, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, increased productivity and income, labour productivity, health & safety, child labour and female empowerment.

Testing SRP with farmers’ organisations

Our colleagues running rice programmes in Benin, Mali, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Indonesia and Vietnam were among the first to test the SRP standard with farmers’ organisations.

Overall, farmers in all pilot countries have improved their rice farming practices, as confirmed by the improved SRP scores in six countries. However, we noticed some misunderstandings about a number of requirements and a few practical problems during data collection.

Doho rice scheme

Summary report

This report brings together results, insights, feedback from partners and problems we encountered during the initial SRP test phase.

Download here

Reaching more farmers and influencing policymakers

This year the experiment will be upscaled and extended to more than 6,000 farmers. Farmers’ organisations from Tanzania and Burkina Faso will also come on board.

Links will be sought with millers and wholesalers who are interested in SRP rice. And the positive results from the tests will be used to influence policymakers, both public and private, to push for wide-scale adoption of the standard. As a first step in this direction, the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries held an intersectoral meeting with a view to developing the new National Rice Development Strategy and invited Rikolto along to provide input on our experience in applying the global standard for sustainable rice. This was the first time that the SRP standard had been discussed at such a high level.

Download the summary report