Dr. Wyn Ellis

The world’s first standard for rice cultivation

Dr Wyn Ellis, Coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), speaks to IFA about the world’s first impact-based ‘standard’ for Sustainable Rice Cultivation.

IFA: In 2015, the SRP launched the world’s first impact-based ‘Standard’ for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, can you explain what the initiative is?
Dr. W. Ellis
:The SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation is the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. Developed over a 2-year period with broad stakeholder participation, it is an inclusive tool for practitioners in both public and private sectors. It is a compact standard, with 46 requirements structured under 8 themes, each aimed at achieving a specific sustainability impact.

The impact can be measured using a set of quantitative SRP Performance indicators that can monitor improvement and allow farmers to be rewarded for progress. The Standard aims to drive wide-scale adoption of climate-smart sustainable best practice among rice smallholders. In this regard, the Standard will serve both as a basis for a supply chain assurance scheme, and also as a working definition of sustainability that can inform policymaking

IFA: What are the objectives, and which countries do you hope to impact most?
Dr. W. Ellis
: SRP aims to drive wide-scale adoption of climate-smart sustainable best practices and resource use efficiency among rice smallholders. Our goal is to reach 1 million farmers by 2020. Our focus is on resource-poor rice smallholders, mainly in Asia but also in Africa and South America. Currently we are piloting the SRP standard in Brazil, Cambodia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and also plan to launch new activities together with our partners in India and Myanmar. We are also in the process of establishing national-level Working Groups to manage implementation of SRP activities in key countries. We welcome the participation of IFA members in these national platforms.

IFA: How is the implementation of the initiative going to be monitored/measured?
Dr. W. Ellis
: SRP’s focus will be on impact achieved through adoption of best practice recommendations in developing countries. In-field, these are monitored using a set of 12 quantitative Performance Indicators (that are aligned with the SRP’s Standard’s 48 requirements and 8 themes) covering areas ranging from GHG emissions, water and fertilizer use efficiency and workers’ rights. As these performance indicators are mostly quantitative by design, they can serve as a practical way of measuring the impact of adoption of best practices.

Our targets are as follows: by 2020, SRP will have facilitated a 5% improvement in net farm incomes among participating farmers, along with a 5% increase in water and fertilizer use efficiency, and a reduction in carbon emissions of 700kt CO2eq per year.

With regards to plants, the university is in an arid area with very little rain and sometimes high saline water. We have selected quinoa as an alternative crop to wheat and barley as it can be adapted to both arid and saline conditions and is a high value crop. We are also exploring using quinoa soap extract as a biocontrol agent.

In accomplishing these goals, we see an integral role for the fertilizer industry in bringing new resource-efficient technologies to small farmers, many of whom are using fertilizers sub-optimally.

About Dr. W. Ellis:

Dr. Wyn Ellis is Coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform, a global multi-stakeholder initiative, working to promote adoption of sustainable climate-smart best practice and resource use efficiency throughout rice value chains. The SRP recently launched the world’s first sustainability standard for rice.

He has 35 years’ experience in Asia, working with UN and other international agencies, governments, universities and corporate clients. His fields of expertise cover value chain standards and certification, organic agriculture, crop protection and agro-innovation. He holds a Ph.D. from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and has authored numerous academic publications, book chapters and articles. He also serves on the Editorial Board of several international journals.