Integrating Climate-Smart Rice
Agriculture in SupplyNetworks:
Lotus Foods’ Experience
Olivia Vent , Lotus Foods SRI Liaison
Rice is the daily food of half the world’s
people. 50% more needed by 2030 –
Increase supplies with less land/water
About half of all irrigation water is used
for rice – Reduce water use
Flooded fields produce methane –
Move to aerobic soils
Reliance on agrochemicals- Reduce use
Most rice is still largely produced on
±250 million family farms – Improve
Women do most of the work to growrice
(farm productivity is linked to worker
health) Women are most vulnerable to
climate change – Reduce health risks
Higher yields (50-100+%) with any variety;
promotes rice biodiversity, key to adapting to
climate change. Rainfed/irrigated conditions.
25-50% less water
40+% reduction in methane emissions
Improves soil health through aerobic soilsand
application or organic matter
Accessible to resource-limitedfamilies
More rice to eat and sell; more income
Resistant to drought, pests, diseases, storms
Women benefit from less work and fewer
Nutritional benefits (higher nutrient density,
reduced arsenic levels, diversified diets.
References on request
System of Rice Intensification (SRI)Rice and Climate Change
SYSTEM OF RICEINTENSIFICATION (SRI)
Small seed beds (80-90%
Seedlings transplanted at
Seedlings widely spaced
Fields kept wet and dry
2-3+ weedings with
Organic fertilizers to
build soil health
Seed nurseries in
at 30 days-45 days
Transplanted in flooded
or puddled conditions
Multiple plantlets to
Hand weeding early,
then as needed
Application of synthetic
About Lotus Foods
• Mission – Rice biodiversity, Fair prices for
family farmers, Sustainability
• Established 1995. Pioneered heirloom pigmented
rices to the US: Bhutan red rice, black rice from
China (trademarked Forbidden Rice®)
• Small company – Certified B Corporation. 12full-time
employees. Co-founder owned/led. HQ in California
• Present in all channels: natural, retail, e-commerce,
club. Retail stores across North America: Costco, Whole
Foods, Safeway, Amazon, etc.
• Core group of natural foods brands promotingreduced
emissions in supply chains in Climate Collaborative.
2009: 200 farmers
2019: 1800 farmers
20-40% higher prices
Yields average 5t/ha;
1-2 t/ha more than
• Receive Load
• Order Fulfillment
Sell to Distributors
Specialty, Mass &
Direct Sales (Club &
Amazon, Industrial, Web)
Focus on local
Secure rice, store,
food safety tests,
2009: 3 containers
2019 : 28 containers
Pathway of SRI-produced rice to US markets
surpluses with any
term. Learn fast.
Invested in long-term;
Strong outreach to
Like choice, story,
taste, having impact.
Capital for equipment &
inventory to scale;
Very complex food
system with many
Americans are not
big rice eaters;
capacity for only
so many novel
Farmers: Exploring how block chain, Carboncredits,
Water Credits, W+ can improve transparency and
generate more benefits for farmers.
Supply Partners: Vacuum-packing machine costs
US$10K. Without the machine organic rice mustbe
shipped in a refrigerated container costing US$3k. 3
reefers = cost of packing machine.
Lotus Foods spends ca. $300k/yr on cleaning rice.
Could be invested in sales, lower prices to be more
competitive, innovation in value-added produ
Better Margins = Better Outcomes
One container=200 days.
Color Sorter=1 hour
But costs US$30k-US$50k.
SRI fields, Tasikmalaya, Indonesia.
Climate Smart Impacts from
Sourcing SRI-grown Rice
±2 billion liters less water used annually on rice
fields from purchase of SRI-grown rice.
750-850 liters water to produce/1 kg paddy & 6 -7 t/ha.
Non-SRI farmers = 2736 liters with yields of 4 t/ha.
2018= ±4670 tons CO2eq not emitted withSRI.
Restoring soils: ±600/tons less synthetic fertilizer
Promote rice biodiversity and on-farmbiodiversity
Organic/Fair Trade prices make farming profitable/
enhance financial resilience. Communitybenefits.
Adoption of other CSA Innovations
Protection of natural habitats,
no run-off of agrochemicals
How to Achieve Global Traction and Impact
• More policy support for agroecological farming
• Infrastructure improvements in water delivery
• Democratize funding to spur local innovation, improve farmer
ownership of value chain, value-added innovation,commercialize
• Small-scale, gender-friendly mechanization
• Improved access to capital to reduce risk to small companies,
investors and enable scaling
• Crop insurance for CSA strategies; Less expensive certifications
• Procurement programs to support inclusive CSArice/crops
• More research collaborations with the natural productsindustry
• More research on how innovations impact women’swell-being
Growing Rice Water Smart,
Women Strong & Climate Wise