Reducing methane emissions from paddy rice in Bangladesh

For rice growing countries such as Bangladesh, the methane produced by rice paddies is a significant portion of their total greenhouse gas emissions. Growing rice in flooded paddies produces methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming our atmosphere. 

Since 2014, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has implemented a Climate and Clean Air Coalition initiative to provide technical and policy guidance to governments to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice production. This effort involves work on the ground to promote new ways to grow rice that will increase production and save farmers money while protecting the climate.


Rice is a staple crop in Bangladesh, with around 75% of agricultural land used to cultivate rice. The common practice of continuously flooding rice paddies creates the anaerobic conditions in which methane is produced. This method is also costly for resource-poor farmers, requiring fuel to power irrigation pumps and as much as 5,000 litres of water to produce just one kilogram of rice. 

Research from IRRI has found that the 'Alternate Wetting and Drying' (AWD) rice cultivation technique has the potential to reduce paddy rice emissions by half and help farmers manage their resources more efficiently. Instead of keeping their fields continuously flooded, farmers drain rice paddies two to three times during the growing season. This limits the amount of methane that is produced, does not compromise yield, and saves money for farmers, as it requires a third less water. 

Since 2004, the AWD technique has been promoted to small groups of farmers for testing, evaluation, and adoption. However, the total benefit, in terms of amount of water conserved and greenhouse gas emissions reduced, will only be significant if the AWD technique is adopted at scale. This is why the Coalition is supporting organisations such as IRRI to promote the benefits of the technique and enable adoption.

What we're doing

The Coalition is providing support to multiple stakeholders, including the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB), and the Northwest Focal Area Network (NW FAN) to introduce the AWD technique to governments and farmers and create enabling conditions for adoption.

Field measurement and greenhouse gas calculation

Work began with the collection of data necessary to assess opportunities and barriers to large-scale implementation of the AWD technique, including measurement of the greenhouse gases emitted by rice paddies and the environmental, social, and economic benefits of applying the AWD technique. The 'SECTOR tool' and Paddy Rice Information Kiosk were used for field measurement and for greenhouse gas calculations at the national and sectorial scale.

Farmers’ Field Day, May 2018

Farmer training

The Focal Area Network (FAN) was leveraged to outscale AWD technology among rice farmers in Northwestern Bangladesh. FAN mobilized its stakeholders to conduct participatory AWD field trials, implement awareness and information campaigns, and encourage new collaborations. An estimated 13,000 farmers were reached through these activities.

Policy advocacy

Project members attended political outreach and advocacy events in Bangladesh to help enhance awareness and political will for national policy development and implementation. Events included: the 2019 workshop, "Scaling climate-smart agriculture in Bangladesh" (see report) and the Gobeshona Annual Conferences in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Dr. Salahuddin, IRRI Representative in Bangladesh, presenting about impacts of AWD at the 6th Gobeshona Conference, January 2020


  • About 13,000 farmers have been reached over the last 3 years through the work of FAN members (including CCDB) and the IFC-CocaCola funded project in Northwest Bangladesh. On average, a farmer has 0.5ha of cropped land (calculated based on data from Bangladesh’s Yearbook of Agricultural Statistics 2017). It is thus estimated that the adoption of AWD by 13,000 farmers will lead to a reduction of methane emissions by 19,500 tCO2-eq per year (3t CO2-eq/ha/yr). Farmers have also reported saving at least 30% of irrigation water, in addition to reduced cultivation costs.

  • World Bank’s International Finance Corporation Water Group (IFC-WG), Coca Cola Foundation, and Bangladesh Water Partnership (BWP) have committed US$700,000 to use approaches developed by FAN and IRRI to introduce water- efficient technology in paddy rice.
  • The project “Introducing Water Efficient Technology to Barind Tract” expands on the experience and successes of outscaling AWD among farmers and pump owners using a community-based participatory approach. The project aims to enhance the agro-water efficiency, reduce ground-water extraction and increase farmers’ income by introducing water efficient technology for irrigation. AWD is the primary technology to be promoted and implemented. 
  •  The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB), a member of FAN, has committed to mainstreaming AWD throughout all their programs.
  • By integrating AWD in their Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Program, CCDB will introduce AWD to all of the Farmers’ Forums that they are facilitating. It is expected that 50,000 farmers will be reached over the next 2-3 years.  Full adoption of the AWD technique by these farmers has the potential to reduce 75,000 tCO2-eq/yr of methane.

Pollutants (SLCPs)