CCAC Agriculture Hub Insight Meeting


On 20 February, the CCAC welcomed Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, IRRI, Dr. Norman Thomas Uphoff, Cornell University, Dr. Tran Dai Nghia, Vietnam, and Ms. Duangporn Vithoonjit, Thailand to share knowledge on different approaches to reducing methane emissions from the rice sector dependent on climate and geography, with case studies presented by representatives from Vietnam and Thailand on the  experience of implementing climate smart rice projects and the regulatory landscape that assists this process. A brief summary of some of the key points raised in the presentations and in the Q & A session alongside biographies of the presenters are as follows: 


Summary of Presentations

Bjoern Ole Sander - IRRI 

  • The mitigation potential in rice is high at 36%, this means that 36% of the methane emissions from rice could be mitigated. To contextualize this, livestock only has a 9% emissions mitigation potential. However, rice only makes up 6-8% of the overall non CO2 emissions from agriculture, whereas livestock contributes 40-50% of these emissions. 
  • Carbon credits are a tool that is becoming more prevalent for funding water management and emissions reductions actions in rice cultivation. . IRRI has developed a methodology for carbon accreditation and rice, and although the technology is not yet fully there, they want to explore how we can enable farming communities to better participate in these projects. 
  • IRRI is using emissions calculators to assess the carbon footprint of rice from across the value chain, including the harvest, collection, drying and storing of straw. Straw management follows water as the second largest driver of emissions from rice. IRRI is exploring the potential for straw to be used to be marketed as biofertilizer or transformed into bioplastics.  

Norman Uphoff - Cornell University 

  • SRI was developed in the 1980s in Madagascar for small holder farmers, although the principles can be applied on any scale. It has now been validated in more than 65 countries, despite initially being met with skepticism. 
  • SRI involves transplanting very young seedlings into a square grid pattern with lower plant density, and using the principle of alternate wetting and drying (AWD). When combined this can reduce methane emissions from rice by 40% - 80%. 
  • SRI is based on four key principles these are to: minimize competition between plants, establish the crop carefully and well, avoiding trauma on the plant’s root systems, manage water and soil to optimize water and oxygen access in the soil and increase soil fertility. 

Tran Dai Nghia - Vietnam 

  • Vietnam exports 53.22 Billion USD worth of agricultural products. Rice represents 6% of these agricultural exports, making it both economically and culturally important to Vietnam. 
  • Agriculture makes up 25%- 28% of Vietnam’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which approximately 50% comes from rice. Vietnam has signed the Global Methane Pledge to Reduce 30% of methane emissions by 2030. To achieve this goal Vietnam has introduced a range of different policies, including (a more exhaustive list can be found here): 
    • National Green Growth Strategy 
    • Vietnam’s newly updated NDC 
    • National Strategy in response to climate change 
  • Vietnam has calculated the abatement costs of different mitigation measures for rice production, low or no cost measures include: 
    • Moving from rice shrimp farming 
    • Converting rice areas to rice aquaculture 
    • AWD in Mekong  
    • AWD in Red River Delta 
    • Converting from rice to upland crops 
  • Vietnam is developing carbon credits to finance the implementation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans. 

Duangporn Vithoonjit - Thailand 

  • 3.7 million families in Thailand produce 5.7 million tonnes of milled rice annual proving an annual income to Thailand of 80-100 billion baht (2.3-2.8 million USD).  
  • Thailand has worked to develop the Climate Smart Rice Project which is a multi-disciplinary projected aimed at developing rice production systems based on three pillars:, mitigation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation. One element of adaptation is increasing local knowledge, the farmers will receive information directly to help them adjust to the changes coming from climate change. 
  • Thailand’s rice NAMA project began in 2018 and will finish this year. The project used the technological advances of land laser leveling, alternate wetting and drying (AWD), fertilizer application based on soil analysis and straw management. The key outputs include an increase in yields, quality and revenue, and decreases in production costs, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  

Q and A Session Highlights

  • It is important to make the distinction that AWD is a water management practice, while SRI is a is a larger crop management package. Consequently, AWD is generally included in SRI.  
  • Although there are existing carbon credit projects that use the methodologies developed by IRRI, none of them have paid out any money yet.  
  • How smallholder famers and the private sector can be seriously involved was raised; the Vietnamese example was given as 70% of farmers in Vietnam are smallholders. The first element is to develop a prioritization framework which includes co-benefits, especially mitigation and economic benefits to the for the farmers. The second element is to ensure it is technically and financially feasible for the private sector and smallholder farmers to become involved. 

About the Presenters

About Bjoern Ole Sander

Ole currently leads IRRI’s country office in Vietnam. He is a Senior Scientist and climate change focal point of the Institute. His research group focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigation technologies. Ole completed his PhD at the University of Kiel in 2008. In 2010, he joined IRRI as a Collaborative Research Scientist with Dr. Reiner Wassmann. 

As climate change specialist, Ole analyzes the GHG balance of different cropping systems with a focus on Southeast Asia. He evaluates different mitigation options through water, fertilizer, and crop residue management. In his research, Ole also identifies suitable conditions to support dissemination of mitigation technologies, particularly a water-saving method known as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) which offers huge potential in reducing methane emissions.  

Ole’s expertise in project management and multistakeholder engagement further supports and strengthens the implementation of IRRI’s agenda throughout the field of climate change research and climate-smart technologies. Throughout his years with IRRI, Ole has continually worked with various stakeholders in countries within the region to foster the implementation of climate-smart farming practices. He maintains valuable networks across national institutions in Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. 

About Norman Uphoff

Dr. Norman T. Uphoff is Professor Emeritus at Cornell University. He has been a faculty member at Cornell since 1970. Professor Uphoff was Program Leader for Sustainable Rice Systems, in the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD). He served as CIIFAD’s first director, from 1990 to 2005. He has published extensively on issues related to Participatory Development; Irrigation Management; Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development; Agroecology, Ecoagriculture and Sustainable Agriculture; Food Security, Poverty and Environmental Issues, among others. 

About Tran Dai Nghia

Dr. Tran Dai Nghia is currently a Director of the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Economics Studies, a head of the Climate Change and REDD+ research group at the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, a member of NAP-Ag taskforce, contact person for CTCN/UNFCCC for IPSARD and a group leader of the National technical expert group to provide advice for MARD’ COP 26 implimentation taskforce. Dr. Tran got his PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Management at University of Hawaii at Manoa and his MS degree in Ag-business and Economics at University of Arkansas at Fayeteville under Fulbright scholarship. Dr. Tran is currently leading a number of climate change related projects including (1) Development of NAP M&E indicators for NAP-Ag of Vietnam (UNDP funded); (2) development of the GHG/Methane implementation plan for MARD in period 2021-2030, (3) development the apps for Carbon foot print in rice caltivation/dragon/shrimp production serving as MRV tool; (4) Private sector participation in implementing NDC and Natural Based Solutions (NbS). Dr. Tran has also involved deeply in reviewing policies and providing advice for policy makers in improving policy enabling environment for transformation towards ecological, resilient, low carbon and circular economy agriculture sector of Vietnam. 

About  Duangporn Vithoonjit

Duangporn Vithoonjit is a senior professional level agricultural research officer at the Chainat Rice Research Center,  witin the department of rice research and development in the Thai Rice Department. Her focus includes rice production technology, namely; fertilizer management, precision farming and smart rice for sustainable rice production and reducing gas emission from rice area. She is currently researching the Adaptation of Rice Production Systems under Climate Change, the Development of Rice Production Technology for Mitigation and Adaptation under Climate Change, Area Analysis and risks from climate change for irrigated rice cultivation in Thailand, Development of technology for irrigated rice cultivation under Climate change in Thailand and Technology for Thai Aromatic Rice production to Increase Rice Quality.