Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Experts find solutions for rice straw

IRRI's BMZ-funded project on sustainable rice straw management conducted its 
First Annual Review and Planning Meeting in Tien Giang province, Vietnam.

TIEN GIANG, Vietnam - Intensifying rice production has been increasingly dependent on machines to speed up the work, such as for harvesting. But what to do about the rice straw that remains in the field?

In the old days, rice straw was commonly burned to prepare the field for the next cropping, but the practice has been found to harm the air and environment and is thus no longer encouraged. There are also those who think that rice straw can actually have economic value.

In 2016, a project was started specifically to study rice straw and explore various options in managing it, to contribute to sustainable rice production.

“At this point, we all recognize that it is important to use rice by-products. As farmers and key rice actors strive for agricultural competitiveness in Vietnam, we must also consider the environmental sustainability and the improved quality of life of our rice consumers,” Duong Duy Dong, vice president of Nong Lam University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, shared. “I sincerely hope that this rice straw management project would provide opportunities to work together with other stakeholders and enable us to do more.”

On 28-29 March 2017, 53 rice straw experts and stakeholders from Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam convened to discuss research milestones and future opportunities for the project, titled Scalable straw management options for improved farmer livelihoods, sustainability, and low environmental footprint in rice-based production systems.

“IRRI has worked with different partners for a long time and we often work in different research areas that would help each country achieve agricultural competitiveness,” said Martin Gummert, postharvest and mechanization expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “However, technologies can also bring in challenges; an example would be the combine harvesters. We need to look at solutions in a holistic manner.”

The three-year project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development Cooperation.

Presentors Pyseth Meas (Cambodia), Caesar Joventino Tado (the Philippines), and Nguyen Thanh Nghi (Vietnam) gave presentations on the situation of rice straw management and current project initiatives in their respective countries.

Representatives from the University of Hohenheim in Germany updated the participants about the status of research and trials on rice straw carbonization and composting.

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