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The Sustainable Rice Project Group

Background: Acceleration, No Duplication

There are already several existing initiatives promoting aspects of sustainable rice growing, such as the Sustainable Rice Platform, International Rice Research Institute, and Keystone’s Fieldprint Calculator.

SAI Platform’s Rice Project Group, recognizing that each of these initiatives plays a role, will build on existing work and focus on speeding up the practical implementation of sustainable practices based on a common industry standard. The group recognizes that to see large scale adoption, engagement has to be practical, simple and have win-win scenarios for farmers, customers and the environment.

Practices that improve quality and yields, while at the same time reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions are already well known and tested. To mention a few, alternative water management strategies, integrated pest management, managing resource efficiency all have a potential role to play in the challenging flooded environment that rice needs.

Composition

 

Project Purpose and Activities: Good Practices in Practice

The Rice Project, launched in December 2014, has the goal to develop a pragmatic, globally applicable Sustainable Rice Practices Standard based on SAI Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment, and to then test and implement it, and feedback any learnings to the Sustainable Rice Platform.

Members will test the resulting standard in their respective supply chains and fund the costs of this joined effort. Local pilots will be executed by the Group’s members. SAI Platform’s secretariat ensures the overall coordination. Project group members agreed to collaborate in a variety of rice growing area such as Spain, Italy, US, South East Asia and India.

The project is planned initially for a year. If successful, the group could decide on follow-up steps like scaling-up, agreeing on metrics and indicators.

Ongoing Activities and Achievements to Date

October 2015 – the first sustainable rice global standard issued

In October 2015, the Sustainable Rice Platform, (SRP), a global alliance of agricultural research institutions, agri-food businesses, public sector and civil society organizations convened by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) issued the first global standard for sustainable rice.

The SRP standard consists of a set of criteria for sustainable rice cultivation that can be used across the globe to reduce the environmental footprint of rice production and improve the lives of rice farmers. The standard consists of 46 requirements organized under eight broad topics, including productivity, food safety, worker health, labor rights, and biodiversity.

SRP and the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) – how do they relate?

Although both standards differ in scope and content, there is much overlap. Compliance with the SRP requirements means meeting the majority of essential and basic questions in the FSA. The SRP also covers 4 essential, 11 basic and 3 advanced questions partly. In addition, SRP offers rice specific requirements based on concrete practices. These can be used as guidance for FSA implementation in the rice sector.

SRP focuses on important topics for rice production, and it is designed to engage in an improvement process with smallholders. Whereas the SRP standard can be considered as ‘sustainable’ in itself, it also offers a ‘stepping stone’ to the broader scope of the FSA. In recognition of the added value of both systems, SAI Platform and the Sustainable Rice Platform will continue to improve the linkages between both standards in its design and implementation. 

See a one-pager on how SRP and FSA relate and how they can be used in a complementary way.

* For more information, contact Peter-Erik Ywema, peywema@saiplatform.org