Climate Smart Rice production Climate change poses a threat to rice farming across the world, among other things, due to anticipated irrigation water scarcity and escalated labor costs.
Not only that, conventional paddy, where rice is grown by transplanting seedlings in puddled soils, is a major emitter of methane. In Asia alone, these types of rice growing systems are considered the second largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Moreover, they are labor, water, and energy-intensive and hurt soil structure.
“There is a dire need to promote new systemic solutions to promote sustainable and climate-neutral farming systems.
Environmental stresses constrain rice production, affecting about 30% of the 800 million poor in Africa alone who live in rainfed rice-growing areas. These stresses can be caused by extreme climatic changes like droughts, flooding, or rising sea levels. While some can be inherent, like high iron toxicity in the soil.
Paddy rice production is a significant source of methane emissions (CH4), and it is therefore essential that countries find ways to reduce emissions from rice cultivation while improving productivity.
Some of the factors to be considered in engaging in climate-smart farming include:
1) Utilizing Drought Resilience varieties-with climatic conditions becoming more unpredictable as the years roll by, varieties that could adapt to those uncertainties have become necessary.
2) Most rice farms are situated in lowland areas, and these areas are along river channels, which pose the risk of flooding. Where there is a high volume of water passage, varieties that can survive flooding need to be promoted.
3) Extension services and climate information: There are environmental bodies that release information on rainfall duration and climatic conditions that can inform farmers on the best time to plant to navigate the farming season. The help of extension agents can further get this information to farmers as most farmers are not technologically inclined. This can aid them to be climate smart in farming.
4) Insurance: Farmers (small-scale farmers) have not fully been orientated on insurance or how to engage them. Awareness of the benefits of insurance needs to be carried out intensely so farmers can salvage situations that are beyond farmers’ control.
Above are some of the strategies to be climate smart in rice production. For more information and expert inputs, contact Smartafrique R&D Consults.