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Innovations for sustainable rice farming: Jain Irrigation Systems joins IRRI consortium advancing direct seeded rice systems

Partnership with company that pioneered modern drip irrigation in India opens new possibilities for significant water savings in rice cultivation

Rice is one of the most water-intensive food crops in the world, with traditional flooded-field farming requiring from 3,000 to 5,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of rice. But increasing water scarcity due to climate change and competition for freshwater is making this method of rice farming unsustainable in the long term. Combined with other factors like shortage of labor and decreasing arable land, new ideas and innovations in rice cultivation are critically needed to meet rising demand and ensure food security.

One of the potential solutions to this issue is a seeding method, called “direct seeding”. Compared to the more prevalent transplanted rice method of crop establishment, wherein rice seedlings are first grown in nurseries and then transplanted into a flooded field, direct seeding of rice, or rice sown directly into a field, can save up to 15-35% of irrigation water, with precision water management increasing water savings to up to 50%. Direct seeding also offers the benefits of requiring less labor and producing less methane emissions that contribute to climate change. Unfortunately, traditional direct seeding methods are prone to weed management issues and inconsistent yields, limiting widespread adoption by Asian smallholder farmers and thus demanding an integrated and scientific approach to make it economically sustainable.

To capitalize on this technology in the mitigation of climate change, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) established the Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC). This multi-stakeholder public-private partnership platform aims to enhance the environmental and economic sustainability of rice production systems in Asia by developing, refining, and catalyzing improved mechanized and precise direct seeded rice practices. By sharing knowledge and collaborating with stakeholder members, the consortium fosters innovation and optimizes technologies for direct seeded rice systems that address challenges, increase yields, and scale to the needs and requirements of smallholder farmers.

The latest member of this trailblazing consortium is Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., an Indian multinational company and one of the largest agricultural irrigation corporations in the world. Hailed as a ‘Sustainability Champion’ by the World Economic Forum, Jain is an end-to-end manufacturer of precision irrigation systems, and is one of India’s leading proponents for sustainability and water conservation solutions in agriculture.

“IRRI’s work in rice research has had an immense impact on India’s rice sector, and we are excited to support this new initiative as it continues to develop scientific and sustainable solutions for agriculture, especially for smallholder farms,” remarks Jain Irrigation Managing Director Shri Anil Bhavarlal Jain. “As part of our ‘More Crop Per Drop’ approach to water and food security, we are looking forward to collaborating on modern irrigation systems and innovative technologies for direct seeded rice that will save precious water and maximize productivity and yields, bringing to fruition our founder Shri Bhavarlal H. Jain’s vision of ‘Leave this world better than you found it’.

“The DSRC is very pleased to welcome Jain Irrigation into the consortium,” says Virender Kumar, IRRI Senior Scientist and DSRC Coordinator. “Efficient water management is one of the key components of optimized direct seeding, and Jain’s extensive and award-winning research and expertise in precision water management and micro-irrigation will be an essential part of the DSRC’s efforts in developing innovations and best practices.”

With their significant experience in irrigation systems, IRRI, Jain and other consortium members will collaborate to develop water solutions for direct seeded rice systems. Jain’s initial involvement will include research and trials on precision water management, as well as a demonstration of their micro-irrigation technologies at IRRI’s DSR Field Laboratories located at IRRI Headquarters in the Philippines, and soon at IRRI’s South Asia Regional Center in Varanasi, India.

About Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd.

Jain Irrigation Systems Limited (JISL) with its motto ‘Small Ideas, Big Revolutions’ with more than 10,500+ associates worldwide and revenue of ~USD 1 Billion, is an Indian multinational company with manufacturing plants in 30 locations across the globe. JISL, its subsidiaries and associates are engaged in providing solutions in agriculture, piping, infrastructure through manufacturing of Micro Irrigation Systems, PVC Pipes, HDPE Pipes, Plastic Sheets, Agro Processed Products, Renewable Energy Solutions, Tissue Culture Plants, Financial Services and other agricultural inputs for more than 34 years. It has pioneered a silent Productivity Revolution with modern irrigation systems and innovative technologies in order to save precious water and has helped to get significant increase in crop yields, especially for more than 6 million small farmers. It has also ushered in new concept of large scale Integrated Irrigation Projects (IIP). ‘More Crop Per Drop™’ is the company’s approach to water security and food security.