Launch of global standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation

Last week the Standard and Performance Indicators for sustainable rice cultivation have been launched by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). The SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation uses environmental and socio-economic benchmarks to maintain yields for rice smallholders, reduce the environmental footprint of rice cultivation and meet consumer needs for food safety and quality.

The development of the standard was led by SRP members, UTZ Certified, Aidenvironment, UNEP and IRRI. It is made up of 46 requirements ranging from productivity, food safety, worker health, labour rights and biodiversity. It is supplemented by a set of quantitative Performance Indicators to enable farmers and market supply chain actors to gauge the sustainability of a rice system, and to monitor and reward progress.

Based upon its knowledge on other standard systems, Aidenvironment has been supporting the SRP with advice on scope, structure and content of the
Standard and Performance Indicators, with facilitation of member consultation and with the development of additional tools and protocols.

Rice plays a critical role in global food security and provides livelihoods for over 140 million smallholders in developing countries. However, this comes at a price to the environment. Rice cultivation uses 30-40 per cent of the world’s freshwater and contributes 5-10 per cent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Inefficient use of farm inputs such as agrochemicals presents additional challenges to long-term sustainability.

“For most of Asia Pacific, rice is a staple. It is part of the social fabric and influences many aspects of our lives – economic, social and religious. The SRP Standard and Indicators will help ensure that the cultivation of this vital commodity becomes more sustainable and benefits people, communities and the planet,” said Kaveh Zahedi, UNEP Regional Representative and Regional Director of the UNEP Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific.

Robert Zeigler, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which co-founded the SRP, added: “The SRP Standard represents the world’s first initiative that will set environmentally sustainable and socially responsible rice production management standards. Our key challenge now is to incentivize and scale up adoption, especially among resource-poor small farmers.”

Mars Foods, maker of major rice brand Uncle Ben’s is gunning for 100% sourcing its rice by 2020. “With this Standard, we can get there. We are mapping out all our supply chains, auditing, and finding out where are the gaps,” said Kristin Hughes, global corporate affairs director of Mars Foods.

The Sustainable Rice Platform is a global alliance of agricultural research institutions, agri-food businesses, public sector and civil society organizations convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Click here to find more information about the Sustainable Rice Platform.

For more information contact Jan Willem Molenaar.