Search Results for Tag: rice
Rice crop in danger in Madagascar
In the coming days, rice fields will be buzzing with activity again in Madagascar – at least that’s the hope. The end of November usually spells harvest time in the small island country. But last November, there was simply no rice to harvest in the northeast of the country, near the Marojejy National Park. When I visited the director of the park, Jean Hervé Bakarizafy, in early 2012, he told me that cultivating rice is supposed to run like clockwork. “In Andapa, a small town near the entrance of the park, people plant rice twice a year. They plant at the end of January and harvest in May. In July, they prepare their fields for the second season. They plant again in August and harvest for the second time at the end of November,” he said.
But Bakarizafy’s face dropped when he told me about the changes that occurred in 2011. “In the middle of 2011 – during our winter season – it was too dry to plant the second round of rice. There was absolutely no water left,” he said. And he’s certain that it wasn’t just a fluke. Elderly villagers who have lived in the area their entire lives started to speak up, and they all seemed to agree: in recent years, the weather seemed to be getting drier and drier.
The World Bank’s climate data portal confirms their concerns. “In the central regions and along the east coast, the amount of rainfall has fallen steadily between 1961 and 2005, accompanied by longer periods of drought,” said the World Bank, identifying the declining precipitation as a “major trend” for Madagascar. The organization also said that rainfall was noticeably less in winter and spring months – the middle of the year for Madagascar, which is located in the southern hemisphere.
Bakarizafy added that those weather patterns could spell disaster for rice farmers. “The people are very worried because if it goes on like this, they might not be able to get in the second harvest of the year anymore,” he said. That would mean the people in and around Andapa wouldn’t have enough rice for themselves, and they would be forced to sell less. At the market, prices for one kapoka, or scoop, of rice would go up.
And that in a country that is one of the largest consumers of rice in the world. The average person in Madagascar eats nearly 100 kilograms of rice a year. There is rice soup in the morning, and at lunch and dinner there is rice with white beans, green beans and carrots, a chili paste or meat. Back in 2010, the island’s agricultural minister said that rice accounts for more than half of all calories consumed in the country and 80 percent of all village families worked in rice cultivation. At that time, Madagascar had just joined the non-profit research center AfricaRice, and the organization estimated that Madagascar would need to import some 200,000 tons of rice a year to meet the growing demand.
So it’s no wonder that the farmers of Andapa are hoping they can harvest as much rice as possible in the next few days.
Author: Franziska Badenschier
Editor: Sumi Somaskanda
DateNovember 27, 2012
Tagscrop, food, franziska badenschier, harvest, madagascar, morjejy national park, rice, world bank
Growing rice + fishing
A new study out of China has some encouraging news for farmers and the environment: according to the six-year long report from the National Academy of Science in China, rice cultivation and fishing can take place side-by-side in the same place!
In the study, fish were allowed to swim in flooded paddies at the same time as farmers were cultivating rice. Over time, researchers found out the farmers grew the same amount of rice as usual but cut down drastically on the amount of pesticide and fertilizer they normally use. Fewer chemicals in the paddies means a lower environmental impact. Plus, one of the study’s authors says areas that don’t have enough water and land for rice and fish production can combine the two and benefit everyone. You can read more about the study on the Science and Development Network.
DateNovember 25, 2011
Rice and Sun = Electricity
Earlier this year reporter Marion Hütter from the Global Ideas team brought us this interesting story about how Cambodia is harnessing the power of the sun and rice husks–yes, rice–to create electricity. That's especially important in a country like Cambodia, where 80 percent of people live in rural parts of the country, outside the national electricity grid.
A company called Kamworks has manufactured "Moonlight" solar lamps that can provide as much as 20 hours of light. And the cost of the lamp is being slashed, from $50 to $25. Another company called SME Renewables is working on new energy solutions in Cambodia, like turning biomass into electricity.
Check out this report–and enjoy!
DateFebruary 10, 2011
Our reporter Carl Gierstorfer has finished filming for his upcoming report on sustainable rice crops in the Philippines. Read his latest post from the field:
"The Filipinos call them the 8th world wonder, UNESCO lists them as a world heritage site: the rice terraces of the Cordillera mountains in northern Luzon. The Ifugao people started to carve them into the hillsides 2000 years ago, at a time when iron hadn't been discovered in their part of the world. Instead they used hardwoods collected in the forests; they built complex irrigation systems and transformed these mountainous forests into a rice growing region.
One cannot stop wondering about why the Ifugao people, apparently feared headhunters, took so much effort to grow rice. Were the forests hunted empty? Was it prestigious to grow rice? What's for sure is that the climate here, even in the present cooler and drier season, is not pleasant. It's damp, wet, and pretty cold at night. The terraces are still farmed today, the plots of land handed down the generations. It is tough work. During the rainy season landslides destroy many rice paddies. Small wonder, then, that more and more of the fields are being abandoned; young people move to the cities, get jobs in the tourism industry. After all, it takes almost a year's work to harvest rice that will last for only a few months. As spectacular as these rice terraces are, there is nothing romantic about farming them. One can only hope that after 2000 years there will be at least some people left who will maintain this 8th wonder of the world.
We have finished filming and head back to Manila. There is lots of material – so now it's all about choosing the most interesting bits for the report."
DateJanuary 24, 2011
Rice – staple crop and climate killer?
Our reporter Carl Gierstorfer is currently filming in the Philippines for his upcoming report on sustainable rice production: Here is his third dispatch from the field:
"There are a lot of challenges ahead to adapt the world's most important crop – rice – to the consequences of climate change. Fortunately scientists got some smart ideas. But you might be surprised that rice farming itself has a negative impact on the world's climate. Not the plant is the problem, but the method in which it is grown. Rice (a sort of grass) needs a lot of water to grow. In fact, farmers flood their fields during the farming season, so that a fair part of the plant is submerged. This has many advantages; it keeps pests at bay, recycles nutrients and so on. But there is a downside. In these oxygen-depleted conditions bacteria grow that emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. In rice producing countries, the total emissions of methane make up a significant part of greenhouse gas emissions.
Now here is the challenge: feed ever more people with rice, make farming more productive, but reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Impossible? There is a way to get rid of the gas-emitting bacteria and even save precious water along the way. It is a simple method that scientists now try to bring to the farmers. How exactly this works, you will find out in my report.
We have traveled a fair deal now: from Manila south to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), then up north to the granary of the Philippines – the region of Nueva Ecija. We then headed to northern Luzon, to the Sierra Madre mountain range. Here are the famous rice terraces, carved into the hillsides by farmers some 2000 years ago. A UNESCO world heritage site – and topic of my next entry…"
(image thanks to CanadaGood @flickr)
DateJanuary 21, 2011