Sustainable rice for all

Sustainable rice for all

Sustainable rice for all

Fewer greenhouse gas emissions from rice fields and better market access for farmers

Rice provides a living for roughly 20% of the global population and functions as a staple food for 3.5 billion people. By 2050 global demand is expected to increase by 25%. This, along with its sizeable environmental footprint, makes change in the rice sector vital in order to transition to sustainable food systems.

In order to meet the growing demand for rice, the sector must provide decent profits and working conditions for all actors along the value chain, especially smallholder farmers, and reduce its environmental impact.

Our ambition

We aim to contribute to sustainable rice sector transformation at national, regional and global level, in order to:

  • Provide safe, healthy, sustainable and quality rice to consumers
  • Generate decent profits and jobs for all actors along the value chain, especially for smallholder farmers (men, women and youth)
  • Reduce the environmental impact of rice cultivation and to preserve the environment for future generations

These are the challenges we want to address

  • Rice producers are both victims and contributors to climate change. Today, they are already amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to droughts, floods, high temperatures, and raising sea levels. How can they adapt and improve their resilience to shocks?
  • On the other hand, flooded paddy fields are a major contributor to climate change. They are estimated to generate about 10% of global methane emissions.
  • Rice requires about 40% of the world's irrigation water, putting intense pressure on sometimes scarce water resources.
  • In some countries, rice is grown using considerable amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. In Vietnam, for example, the overuse of fertilizers led to high pest and disease infestations, resulting in drastical increases in pesticide use (Demont and Rutsaert, 2017). How can we make the rice sector more resource-efficient? And how can we support farmers to reduce their use of agrochemicals while maintaining high productivity?
  • Rice value chains need to be more performant, based on inclusive business relationships between producer organisations, processors and traders. Profits and risks must be distributed fairly, and transaction costs should be lowered.
  • Consumers are increasingly raising their demand for safe and healthy rice while also becoming more environmentally-conscious. There is a need to increase the availability of affordable rice that meets regional and national quality standards.
  • Finally, rice production is largely in the hands of ageing farmers as young people are turning their backs on jobs in rural areas. How can we create attractive jobs for young people in rice value chains? Who will feed the world tomorrow?

Areas of intervention

  • We support sustainable rice production, gender fairness, youth inclusion, professionalisation of farmer organisations, access to the market and finance, inclusive business, and public-private sector alliances. We promote multistakeholder collaboration to promote enabling policy frameworks.

  • We pilot innovative approaches and create and leverage evidence for impact to convince influential actors to scale these innovations.

  • To this end, we cooperate with farmer organisations, private actors, governments and other actors in our programmes in 9 countries: Indonesia, Vietnam, DR Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal.

  • ‘Rikolto’s Global Rice Programme Team’ defines our global rice strategy which is then contextualised into each country programme, to promote peer-to-peer learning and monitoring across regions, to seek knowledge exchange and collaboration with regional and international rice stakeholders. The team consists of the rice programme staff from the aforementioned 9 countries.

From West Africa to Indonesia, Rikolto has been coaching farmers to change their practices in line with the Sustainable Rice Platform Standard. The switch to sustainable rice cultivation has proven to be good for farmers, consumers and our planet.

Catur Utami Dewi Global Rice Programme Coordinator


A three-tier approach

We focus our work around three main domains.

  • Sustainable rice cultivation: To raise productivity in a sustainable way, we promote the use of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard for Rice Cultivation to minimise climate change impacts.

  • Market inclusion for both consumers and producers: Consumers benefit from affordable and nutritious rice while smallholder producers are involved in inclusive business relations to ensure business growth.

  • Enabling environment: Policy and legal frameworks provide a solid basis for contract farming and for scaling the SRP Standard.

The Sustainable Rice Platform

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a global multistakeholder partnership that wants to make rice farming more sustainable, from an economic, social and environmental angle. Its Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation and its Performance Indicators serve as a working definition for sustainable rice production and enable benchmarking and objective comparison of the sustainability of any rice system. Read the RSP brochure to find out more.

Three cross-cutting themes drive our work

The SRP Standard provides a framework to tackle challenges related to all three of them.

  • Gender equity: Women are empowered within the rice sector to be able to access and control the benefits derived from their participation.

  • Youth inclusion: Rice production is largely in the hands of ageing farmers. Involving more young people in the whole rice value chain is crucial for its sustainability.

  • Climate change: Rice is both victim of and contributor to climate change. We aim at climate mitigation, climate adaptation and productivity intensification to counteract the impact of climate change.

Targeting our 2026 ambitions

By 2026, we aim to reach:

  • 100,000 smallholder farmers sustainably producing 100,000 tons of affordable, healthy and nutritious rice, according to the SRP Standard, on 40,000 ha

  • 100 farmer organisations

  • 2 million mainstream consumers in 20 medium and large cities in Asia and Africa

  • 200 young entrepreneurs of whom 50% are women, to set up businesses to provide services to the various rice chain actors.


Our track record

We contribute to a global standard for sustainable rice

Rikolto has sat on the advisory board of the Sustainable Rice Platform since 2015 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2018. We helped develop the SRP performance indicators and other tools. In 2018, we established a baseline score on the SRP standard for all 9 countries in which Rikolto engages in rice. Moreover, our colleagues were among the first to test the SRP standard with farmers’ organisations. This consolidates Rikolto’s past achievements in promoting good agricultural practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM), System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM).

Our colleagues running rice programmes in Benin, Mali, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Indonesia and Vietnam were among the first to test the SRP standard with farmers’ organisations. In a summary report we bring together results, insights, feedback from partners and problems we encountered during the initial SRP test phase.

We supported farmer organisations to establish inclusive business relations

  • Farmer organisations exported Fair Trade rice from Benin to a Belgian supermarket and organic rice from Indonesia to Europe, Australia and USA.
  • In Senegal, the farmer organisation signed contracts for selling of paddy with a processor and is negotiating with 4 retailers for selling white rice.
  • Farmer organisations in Uganda, Benin and Indonesia have developed their own rice brand.
  • In Vietnam farmers are linked to 5 major rice companies for the supply of SRP rice.

Farmer organisations are engaged in institutional procurement

We enabled farmer organisations to become key actors in what is called "institutional purchasing" in West Africa: they sell to public sector institutions or are involved in government programmes. Farmer organisations are now delivering rice to school canteens in Burkina Faso and rice seed to governmental programs in Senegal. In Mali, the national rice producer’s platform contributed to the establishment of food security stocks and signed contracts for 6 million euro with the state agency.

Advocacy on import tariffs for rice in West Africa

Rikolto has contributed to the emergence and organisational strengthening of the regional platform of West African rice producers' organisations. This CRCOPR has become an actor to reckon with on rice-related policy issues. It has influenced the general direction of the Rice Offensive of ECOWAS to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2025 for the region. Though its advocacy efforts for a special import tariff for rice within ECOWAS failed, we now see more and more measures undertaken by member states to engage importers and other actors for local rice.

Women became stronger actors in the West African rice sector

Rikolto has supported the construction and equipping of four modern parboiling centres in Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal, enabling women parboilers to produce a larger volume and a better quality of parboiled rice. Women have also been able to get a higher selling price, which has sometimes doubled.

National Farmer platforms are strengthened

  • We have strengthened national farmer platforms in West Africa to become legitimate dialogue partners with policy makers. This is reflected in the role attributed to them to set up interprofessional bodies in Mali and Benin.
  • Rikolto also supported policy work, led by the Uganda Rice Millers Council which urged government to ensure the import duty was set at a level which would enable the local rice sector to develop.
  • Rikolto in Indonesia, together with its partner API, advocates for the Indonesian government to impose differentiated paddy prices based on multi quality classes.

M&E framework in West Africa

Rikolto developed a M&E framework for the Regional Rice Value Chain Programme in West Africa of the Islamic Development Bank.

Sustainable Rice Landscape programmes

Rikolto participated in the programme design for GEF7 Sustainable Rice Landscape programmes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

In its global rice programme, Rikolto works with...

  • Over 50,000 rice producers, members of 57 rice producers’ groups, associations, cooperatives and parboiling unions

  • Local and international rice buyers such as Superindo, Natural Farm, Tan Hong Rice Company, SWT rice, Bongomin Group, YARA and Bralima

  • Research institutes such as IRRI, INERA and Kilombero Rice Research Institute

  • Other NGOs, such as Kilimo Trust, Africa Rice, Preferred by Nature, Agriterra, Trias and SCOPEInsight

  • Local and national governments

  • Sector platforms such as the Sustainable Rice Platform and the Tanzania Rice Council

We are proud to be on the receiving end of the suport of the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD), AGRA and NORAD (CISU).

Sustainable Rice for all

The Sustainable Rice Platform

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is a global multistakeholder partnership that wants to make rice farming more sustainable, from an economic, social and environmental angle. Its Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation and its Performance Indicators serve as a working definition for sustainable rice production and enable benchmarking and objective comparison of the sustainability of any rice system. Read the RSP brochure to find out more.

Catur Utami Dewi
Catur Utami Dewi
Rice programme director
Nana Suhartana
Nana Suhartana
Rice Programme Manager
Tuan Le
Tuan Le
Rice Programme Manager, Rikolto in Vietnam - Rice Programme Director, Rikolto in Southeast Asia
+84-24 6258 3640/41 - ext. 33
John Ereng
John Ereng
Rice Cluster Director in East Africa
Augustin Rushunda
Planning, Learning and Accountability Coordinator - DR Congo
Mame Birame Ndiaye
Mame Birame Ndiaye
Representative of Rikolto in West Africa (ad interim)