Bayer, the Temasek-owned investment company GenZero, and Shell Energy have joined forces to revolutionize paddy rice cultivation in India. Their collaboration aims to develop a reliable model that reduces methane emissions and advances sustainable farming practices. The project will provide support and training for farmers, utilizing Measurement, Reporting & Verification (MRV) tools and remote sensing technology. The renowned scientific institution, the International Rice Research Institute, will also be involved in the initiative.
Global rice production is expected to increase in order to meet the rising demand from a projected 34% increase in the world population by 2050. However, this increase in production will also result in higher greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is the second-largest emitting sector, responsible for approximately 24% of global GHG emissions. Within this sector, paddy rice cultivation represents about 10% of global methane emissions. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide.
Rice farms cover over 150 million hectares of land worldwide, accounting for 15% of global farmland. In order to achieve climate-smart rice cultivation, changes in rice management practices are necessary to reduce emissions. A robust and scalable approach is required to encourage methane emissions reductions in paddy rice cultivation. Bayer and its partners aim to achieve significant results in decarbonizing rice production, while enhancing soil health and benefiting small farmers. The project will focus on rice cultivation in India, the second-largest producer of rice globally.
As a global leader in the agriculture sector, Bayer’s Crop Science division seeks to improve rice management practices by promoting climate-smart activities that benefit both farmers and the environment. Over the past two years, Bayer has laid the groundwork for the project through its “Sustainable Rice Project” in India. The project encourages rice farmers to adopt new techniques such as Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) and Alternate Wetting & Drying (AWD). These practices help reduce GHG emissions while allowing farmers to earn revenue through carbon credits.
Bayer has been rewarding farmers with carbon credits since 2020 for adopting climate-smart practices. The company’s Carbon Initiative aims to bring the carbon market to agriculture through a science-based and collaborative approach. These efforts align with Bayer’s sustainability commitments and net-zero targets, which include reducing in-field GHG emissions by 30% per kilogram of crop yield by 2030.
In addition to reducing emissions in its own operations, Bayer plans to offset any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits from nature-based projects. Carbon farming, or regenerative agriculture, is one area that Bayer supports to source its carbon offsets.
The collaborative initiative between Bayer, GenZero, Shell, and the International Rice Research Institute aims to develop an ecosystem for the rapid adoption of sustainable regenerative agricultural practices. The project’s first year will cover 25,000 hectares of rice production, focusing on the Kharif 2023 and Rabi 2023-2024 rice cropping seasons. The initiative also aims to reduce water consumption in India’s water-stressed agricultural regions and support smallholder farmers in transitioning to a low-carbon sector.
The success of the project will lead to larger sustainable rice production programs, water savings, and improved community livelihoods. The International Rice Research Institute will provide scientific assessments of GHG reductions, water use reductions, and soil health improvements, ensuring data accuracy and credibility.
Shell’s executive VP, Flora Ji, emphasizes that this nature-based solution is a crucial tool for addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development. The project aligns with Shell’s goal of leveraging novel technologies to deploy nature-based solutions at scale. GenZero’s CEO also shares this vision, aiming to transform rice cultivation by adopting AWD and DSR techniques among smallholder farmers in India.
The dynamic collaboration between Bayer, GenZero, Shell Energy, and the International Rice Research Institute aims to bring transformative change to the agricultural sector. The project aims to enhance soil health, reduce emissions, and promote climate-smart rice production.