Transition to regenerative rice cultivation practices to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce chemical inputs, conserve water, and increase yields.
Rice is a staple crop for half the earth's population and is grown on more than a tenth of all arable land. More poor people depend on rice for food and income than any other crop. It is the foundation of culturally important dishes globally, from Japan to India to Brazil. However, conventional rice cultivation has major environmental impacts. Rice is grown by flooding paddies, which is wasteful of water and requires fossil fuel–based fertilizers and other chemicals to maintain yields, causing pollution. Microbes in flooded paddies generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Rice production accounts for 12 percent of all methane emissions globally and 2.5 percent of all greenhouse gases. System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an agroecological alternative. It improves productivity by changing the management of plants, soil, and water, resulting in higher yields and fewer inputs. SRI can be implemented by any farmer. It lowers methane emissions, creates better resilience to weather extremes, and improves livelihoods. Financial investment and training for farmers are necessary to accelerate the adoption of SRI globally.