Rice is one of the most important basic foods on earth. Across Asia, it is not just a diet staple, but a main source of income and employment for farmers.
The harvesting of rice crops in Asia, however, is fraught with challenges. There is a need to intensify its production as more people need to be fed. According to current estimates, world population numbers will rise to 9.8 billion people by 2050. This will create an immense strain on already limited resources and land, especially as countries try to ensure food security for its people.
Current agricultural techniques are also inadequate in helping farmers deal with the threats of climate change, as the region is hit by floods, droughts and some of the most devastating extreme weather events that hurt crop yield. In some cases, these methods and techniques contribute to the problem. Rice is the most polluting grain – with 12 per cent of global greenhouse emissions coming indirectly from current flooding techniques used when growing rice. It is also a water-intensive crop.
There is hope, however, in improving the situation as more water-efficient rice varieties can be created with technological innovations and the advancement of new business models. Production costs can be reduced and the quality of rice output improved. Some critical questions remain though: How will the decarbonisation of rice growing techniques affect its yield? Which agro-tech solutions should we choose to scale? Can supply chains remain sustainable and competitive as rice-growing intensifies?
Our dialogue “Rethinking Rice” aims to bring together experts and technology specialists who can share insights about how smallholder farmers and industrial growers operate and the opportunities that abound for rice. Join us as we explore the environmental and social implications of rice harvesting and chart the outlook for this important crop that is Asia’s main source of sustenance.
The event is organised in partnership with Syngenta, in line with the sustainability commitments that it has made under the Good Growth Plan.