Impacts through policies and partnerships

IRRI
Outcomes & Impacts

Scaling up water saving technology to benefit rice farmers in Bangladesh and Vietnam

Southeast Asia
South Asia
Low Emissions Development

Traditional rice production techniques are water and labour intensive, and using diesel pumps to supply well water can be expensive for farmers. Continuously flooded rice paddies also generate methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. To tackle this problem, Bangladesh and Vietnam worked with CCAFS experts to scale up the use of an innovative water-saving technology called ‘alternate-wetting-and-drying’ (AWD) in rice, which has produced the major side benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This initiative is part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition's efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. 

With AWD, farmers periodically drain their rice paddies, while making sure that the soil does not dry out, rather than keeping them continuously flooded. This approach reduces the amount of water they need by up to 30%, which can be a blessing in times of drought. If they are pumping water for irrigation it also lessens their fuel costs. In addition, the technique cuts down methane emissions, because the gas is generated under anaerobic soil conditions when water is standing in the fields. AWD can reduce methane emissions by up to 48% without reducing rice yields.

Two consortia involving the Ministries of Agriculture for Bangladesh and Vietnam worked with CCAFS to produce national workplans for scaling up AWD in rice. As part of a project on low-emissions agriculture, CCAFS scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) worked with partners in each country. They identified ways to engage policymakers, build alliances to train farmers in the technique and work out how technical guidance will be channelled.

WorldFish

The IRRI scientists developed maps for the 2 countries that showed where and when AWD would be most suitable. Countries will use this information to plan how to scale out the technique to farmers. Stakeholders, brought together in workshops, considered the different people involved in the adoption process and developed engagement and communication strategies. Areas were then identified where AWD will have the most impact.

“Various altered crop management strategies have been suggested … but AWD is still the most promising option.” Dr Reiner Wassmann, Senior Scientist at IRRI

As a result of the work, Bangladesh has been awarded USD 214 million by the World Bank to implement a programme of agricultural technology involving 1 million farmers. Vietnam is working with international development programmes to reach more than 1 million rice farmers, especially in its delta regions, which account for most of Vietnam’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The broader impact of the technology will be to reduce methane emissions from rice production, while increasing food security and the adaptive capacity of farmers across the rice-producing areas of the world.