A third-party agency audits the sustainability of SRP farmers in Thailand.
Photo: ©GIZ BRIA/Astari Widya Dharma

Farmers apply sustainable rice standards in South-East Asia

In the framework of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) in South-East Asian countries, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz) has implemented the Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA), improving the income of the participating farmers.

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) established in 2013 is one of the most prominent global multi-stakeholder forums in the rice sector. SRP is convened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), while Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is one of the co-founders.
 
From the beginning, GIZ has been actively engaged in contributing technical support from GIZ’ on-farm experiences and also in developing the SRP instruments. With a mission to promote resource efficiency and sustainability in the global rice sector, SRP aims to offer the global rice supply sector a proven set of instruments to facilitate wide-scale adoption of sustainability best practices.
 
The SRP Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation – the world’s first sustainability standard for rice – defines an overall framework for climate-smart sustainable best practices in any rice-based system. As a supplement to the standard, a set of Performance Indicators (PI) was launched as a quantitative tool to measure impacts of adoption of the Standard.
 
In 2017, some farmers in Thailand received approximately four per cent higher selling price of their wet paddy from their sustainable rice cultivation standard practices. The GIZ-implemented Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) project has continued to drive implementation of the Sustainable Rice framework in four countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Particularly in Thailand, BRIA has welcomed around 1,300 farmers from 19 Community Rice Centers to the partnership. Together with the Thai Rice Department and Olam International, the standard has been implemented and verified through a third-party audit during each growing season to confirm the adoption of the framework and compliance with the standard's recommended practices.

Upscaling the Better Rice Initiative Asia in South-Asia and West-Africa

Building on the success of the framework’s adoption in BRIA, GIZ intends to upscale it to 35,000 farmers in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, and also to replicate it in other regions, such as West Africa and South Asia.
 
Rice is an important source of food for more than half of the global population and is therefore of extreme public and political importance. Its production provides vital food security and employment to millions of some of the world’s poorest people. However, in many countries, the rice value chain lacks appropriate production, processing, and marketing structures, and is restrained by the inefficient and environmentally hazardous use of resources. Yet, global consumers are increasingly aware of sustainable rice production, food safety and climate change.
 
The SRP Rice Cultivation Standard and Performance Indicators (PI) have been used in GIZ as a framework to ensure that sustainable rice cultivation practices are adopted in the project beneficiaries’ countries. With its expertise in promoting farmer empowerment, BRIA has raised interest and awareness regarding the adoption of the SRP framework in the four BRIA countries. The pilots were conducted at different levels of engagement considering the available resources and capacity of each BRIA country to assess the applicability, relevance and acceptability of the standard.
 
Judging from experience with BRIA, the standard appears to have served well in its role as a decision-making tool in assessing and describing sustainable practices of farmers, in the common definition that is understood by all stakeholders. It standard has proven to be helpful in providing a foundation to strengthen the sustainable rice value chain, and to build stronger linkages among value chain actors, especially in the market linkages for both domestic and export markets.
 
Furthermore, with the verified standard compliance, other stakeholders benefit from more assurance of the quality of rice farming techniques, and also in terms of rice safety and health qualities.
 

Astari Widya Dharma, Deutsche Gesellschaft für international Zusammenarbeit (giz),Bangkok, Thailand

astari.dharma@giz.de