SERIOUS MONDAY: WWF SUPPORTS HIGH-EFFICIENCY RICE GROWING METHOD

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A new method to grow rice could save hundreds of billions of cubic meters of water while increasing food security, according to a study released by the WWF.

“With a focus on India- a country which faces a major water crisis, yet has the world’s largest rice cultivated area- the study found the system of rice intensification (SRI) method has helped increase yields by over 30%- four to five tonnes per hectare instead of three tonnes per hectare, while using 40% less water than conventional methods,” stated the WWF release.

The SRI method is based on eight principles different to the conventional cultivation method. They include developing nutrient –rich and unflooded nurseries instead of flooded ones; ensuring wider spacing between rice seedlings; preferring composts or manure to synthetic fertilizers; and managing water carefully to avoid that the plant’s roots are saturated.

The SRI method was developed in the 80’s in Madagascar and has been demonstrated to be effective in 28 countries.

“Although the system of rice intensification has shown advantages, the scale of its use leaves much to be desired,” said Dr. Biksham Gujja, Senior Policy Advisor at WWF International. “It is time to start large-scale programmes to support a method that could make a lasting global impact with far-reaching benefits to people and nature.”

The report suggests countries such as India, China and Indonesia convert at least 25% of their current crops to the SRI method by 2025. Not only would it massively reduce water use, but offset methane emissions. SRI fields do not release methane as conventional fields do.

Authorities from the Indian state of Tripura have already committed to move in that direction.

“Our farmers proved the system of rice intensification improves the productivity and we will convert at least 40% of our rice cultivation using this method over the next five years,” said Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura State.

“We urge this as a model for rice cultivation elsewhere as it represents one hope for the water crisis affecting so many billions of people.”

Demand for rice is expected to increase by 38% by 2040 which will also deepen the water crisis.

Already 1.2 billion people have no access to adequate water for drinking and hygiene.

Dawn

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