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Climate Change & Sustainability

Rice production is both a victim and a contributor to climate change. 

Drought, flood, saltwater, and extreme temperatures devastate crops and risk the livelihoods of 144 million smallholder rice farmers each growing season. 

At the same time, traditional cultivation methods, such as flooding paddy fields and burning rice straw in open fields, contribute approximately 10% of global man-made methane, a potent greenhouse gas.      

At IRRI we develop and adapt climate-responsive solutions, working with extension agents,  national research institutions, and governments across South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa, to promote sustainable rice-based food systems.

First, we help rice farmers adjust to climate change. By leveraging the genetic diversity of the Rice Genebank, the world’s largest repository of rice varieties, we breed rice varieties that can survive unforeseen climate shocks and thrive in marginal environments. We also boost the mitigation of future climate crises by developing new cultivation practices and technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions, enhance input-use efficiency, and predict and respond to future climate threats. Finally, we work with governments to provide an evidence base so they can make informed decisions and set policies to meet their development agenda and their SDG contributions.