Editorial: A sad reality

THE International Rice Research Institute (Irri), in a news release dated October 2, 2019, reported that the second Global Sustainable Rice Conference and Exhibition, a worldwide conference organized by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) and took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 1 to 2 2019, is calling for more investment in climate change initiatives for the world’s most important food crop, rice.

The conference lets the world know that our rice industry needs climate change initiatives because rice production creates detrimental environmental impact.

According to Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, of Irri-Vietnam, “Rice contributes about 1.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, but doesn’t receive nearly as much of global climate investment.”

The news also cited that the effects of rice production include the releasing of methane gas (GHG), a “global warming potential” greenhouse gas, contributing factor to water scarcity, and also the production of environment-harmful chemicals.

“Flooded rice fields are a significant source of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane, creating around 10 percent of global annual emissions. Rice is also a water-intensive crop, typically consuming 2,000 to 3,000 liters of water to produce 1kilogram of rice, increasing water scarcity in surrounding areas. Even after it is harvested, rice straw is burned in many Asian countries, releasing toxic chemicals that pollute the air and degrade soil fertility,” the news stated.

During the conference, ways and technologies were tackled to minimize or even prevent rice production from producing environment detrimental effects while still maintaining or even increasing rice harvests.

Some of the identified ways and technologies include alternate wetting and drying, laser land leveling, and multiple digital tools and apps which our farmers can easily access using mobile phones.

“A proportionate increase to 1.5 percent of the global climate investment directed towards rice production solutions, for example in irrigation and mechanization, will create significant impact in disseminating these proven technologies and practices to farmers,” Sander said during the event.

It is sad to note that in the Philippine agriculture setting, support to rice farmers is meager that even in the Senate, some lawmakers question why focus greatly on agricultural research.

It is sadder to note still that in an agricultural country like the Philippines, the agriculture sector only ranks eighth in the budget pie.

With this setting, we can expect that the conference’s call will never be heeded in the Philippines.


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