Rice is a staple food in many parts of the world and has been for centuries. However, people are still finding new ways of using rice for their nutritional benefit, as well as for improving their livelihoods. Rice can be used to make alternative foods and beverages, as well as a source of fuel. ‘Paddy Chronicles’ tells the story of those who are benefiting from the versatile nature of rice.
Judi 572 – Nepal
Rice farmers in Nepal have been struggling to meet their own needs, let alone satisfying the wider market for rice. To help alleviate this problem, participatory varietal selection (PVS) and participatory plant breeding (PPB) initiatives have been implemented. These programmes have helped produce rice varieties that meet the farmers’ subsistence needs as well improving their economic potential.
The Rice Stuff – Germany and Belgium
Rice is a staple food in many parts of the world, especially Asia. However, in countries such as Germany and Belgium, rice-based products have established a niche market for healthy snack foods and drinks. Imagine Foods produces a rice-based drink called Rice Dream, which has penetrated markets in Europe. Grain Cake Bakery in Belgium produces a variety of rice cakes, which many people enjoy as a healthy snack.
Rice Doctor – The Philippines
In the sustainable development and agriculture community, there is a large group of people advocating the role of the internet in increasing access to learning and education resources. However, the number of people actually developing relevant and educationally sound content is far less. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has set out to correct this problem by introducing the internet-based learning archives of ‘RiceDoctor’ and ‘TropRice’. These are increasing the ability of farmers to grow healthy crops and to deal effectively with pests and disease in their cultivation of rice.
Best of Both Worlds – Côte d’Ivoire
Rice farming in Côte d’Ivoire is characterised by poor soils, drought and pest infestation. The majority of farmers struggle to meet their own needs and have been unable to find a rice variety that is both pleasant to eat and high yielding. However, the West African Rice Development Association has bred a new rice variety that combines the benefits of existing Asian and African seeds. Farmers have been able to participate in crop selection initiatives, giving them access to the new variety and leaving them to choose which crops are most suited to their own circumstances.
Rice Under Fire – Bangladesh
A great number of people in Bangladesh rely on rice husk as an important source of fuel. However, its use is often inefficient, with detrimental effects on the health of the users and workers involved. This wasteful use continue because people do not have access to relatively simple and cheap technology that can make more productive use of rice husk as a fuel. To help alleviate this problem, the International Rice Research Institute have helped develop an improved stove design that meets the users’ needs while improving efficiency and safety.
From Rice to Riches – The Philippines
In the wake of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, rice producers in the Philippines have weathered extremely tough times. As a result, they have explored diverse ways of finding new markets for their produce. An increasingly common way to do this is by using rice by-products to make products such as rice paper, rice coffee and rice wine. Combining relatively simple methods with entrepreneurial flare, these ventures create much needed extra wealth for poor producers.