In the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture, rice plays a key role: rice production accounts for up to 10 % of global methane emissions and for more than 30 % of the world’s irrigation water. About half the world’s population depends on rice for its staple; for around 140 million farmers, rice is their livelihood. A news standard created by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) aims to foster a more sustainable rice cultivation.
In 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) created the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), in order to promote the adoption of sustainable, climate-smart best practices. The outcome is the SRP standard on sustainable rice cultivation, which was presented to the public in October 2015.
The Sustainable Rice Platform is currently developing a certification system around the SRP standard, which should be launched by the end of 2016. As a certification body for various sustainability and responsible sourcing standards, DQS has been following the developments actively and would like to present a first overview of what to expect.
What does the SRP Standard focus on?
The standard consists of 46 criteria and covers environmental aspects, labor rights, as well as occupational health and safety. The standard is built around eight main goals:
- Productivity: To improve the livelihoods of current and future generations of rice growers
- Food safety: To meet consumer demand for food security, food safety, and quality of rice and rice products
- Water, nutrients and pesticides: To manage natural resources efficiently
- Biodiversity: To protect the natural environment from disruptive effects
- Community: To protect neighboring communities from disruptive effects as well as to contribute to their development
- Greenhouse gas emissions: To reduce emissions and adapt rice production systems to a changing climate
- Health & safety and labor rights: To respect labor rights and promote the well-being of workers
- Ethics: To make sure business is conducted with integrity and transparency
Where can I find the SRP Standard?
The Standard is called „Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation“ and can be downloaded from the SRP homepage free of charge.
For whom is the standard intended?
- Rice farmers will benefit directly through reduced costs, increased efficiency, a more stable production and greater market access.
- For supply chain managers and buyers, the standard is an instrument to meet responsible sourcing requirements, using an internationally accepted industry benchmark.
- For policymakers and development workers, the standard serves as an orientation and assessment tool to promote sustainable development.
In all likelihood, the use of the standard will be driven by large corporations who use the standard as an instrument to improve sustainability throughout the supply chain. Mars Food, owner of the leading Brand Uncle Ben’s, has already commitment to procuring 100% SRP-compliant rice by 2020.
How will compliance with the standard be verified?
The Sustainable Rice Platform is currently developing a verification- and certification system that will accompany the SRP standard.