Better Rice, Better Life
Title: Market Oriented Smallholder Value Chains (MSVC)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Thailand, Viet Nam and Indonesia
Partner: Olam International
Lead executing agency: Thailand: Rice Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Indonesia: Ministry of Agriculture, Viet Nam: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Overall term: 2018 to 2022
Mostly grown by smallholders, either for themselves or for the local market, rice is the staple food in most Asian countries. Only about five per cent is exported. In terms of food supplies and local value added, rice is the most important crop cultivated in Southeast Asia. Today, the rice sector in Viet Nam provides income to 9.3 million households, in Thailand around 3.7 million and in Indonesia 25 million farmers’ households. Still, many farmers’ households remain poor. Moreover, the average age of farmers has increased which means there are not many young farmers entering the agriculture sector, and the continuation of the agriculture sector, which is carried by the young generation, becomes more vulnerable.
The majority of rice farmers in the respective countries are smallholders, often managing areas of less than one hectare. With a low degree of organisation, they are generally in a weak position within the value chain, characterised by often poor infrastructure and limited access to know-how and technical advice, quality farm input, machinery and services, as well as to financial services and stable markets. At the same time, there is increasing pressure to modernise production systems and value chains for export commodities as well as growing urban food markets.
Lacking knowledge and inappropriate use of production inputs for example chemical fertilisers, seeds and crop protection products, have led to excess chemical residues in the agricultural products, poor farmer health and safety, pollution and environmental degradation, and declining ecosystem services.
Rice has strong potential for improving the livelihoods of poor farming households when linking smallholder farmers to high quality markets and modernising the value chain. To overcome the challenges, smallholder farms need to be strengthened and integrated into all stages of food production – from cropping to processing and marketing.
The livelihoods of at least 35,000 rice smallholder famers in Viet Nam, Thailand and Indonesia are improved.
Under the MSVC project, GIZ and OLAM International aim to scale up the promotion of sustainable rice. OLAM International plans to form long lasting business relationships with local farmers and millers built on the base of mutual trust. This will create a pulling effect in farmer adoption of sustainable practices and technology as well as better organisation and management of farmer groups, which is fundamental for long-term sustainability in product value chains. The project will work to reduce pesticide residual in the value chain, as well as introduce a rigorous assurance system, which will support compliance with food safety laws, international conventions and national regulations regarding social and environmental criteria for production and processing. In addition, close cooperation with the respective ministries, governmental extension services, local enterprises and processors will strengthen existing relationships and structures, and create high local ownership for the project and beyond.
Base of the intervention is a set of standards developed by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). SRP is a multi-stakeholder alliance led by UN Environment, the International Rice Research Institute, GIZ and over 100 institutional members in the public and private sectors as well as international organisations, NGOs and the international research community. The SRP Standard is the first global sustainable rice cultivation standard which makes the sustainability claim credible and tradeable. The standard sets environmental, economic and social criteria in a measurable and comparable way throughout the entire value chain from farm to fork.