Strong rice farmers in India: seven facts & figures

Did you know that rice will be on the menu for 9 out of every 100 Belgians today? That isn't really that many, considering that rice farmers around the world produce more than 480 million tonnes of the little white grains every year. As a rice-producing country, India is responsible for more than 20% of this total, only beaten by front-runner China. But life isn't that easy for rice farmers, so we went looking for (and found) a local project in India where our retail knowledge might be useful. Read all about it, using seven figures.

2011

In 2011, the 'Fair and Good' project started in India when Reismuehle Brunnen, Coop Foundation, Helvetas and Intercooperation joined forces. The organisations want the chain project to create new opportunities for the local rice farmers. They are working with local farming organisations to build a new supply chain with clear sustainability goals.

Goal:

  • To improve living conditions for the farmers and to increase their income
  • To make sustainable use of resources
  • To expand organic farming
  • To improve biodiversity
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Farmer in rice paddy
A chain project has to offer added value to all the partners in the chain, and also has to achieve several sustainability goals.

Six reasons

This kind of chain project is necessary because Indian rice farmers are facing significant challenges, including these six:

  • Poverty: the rice harvest isn't enough for the farmers, so they are no longer able to live off rice alone. In addition, they are often dependent on external financing and seed suppliers, which only aggravates the situation.
  • Rural depopulation: fewer and fewer young people want to become rice farmers. They are leaving to find a better future in the cities, which has a huge impact on local communities.
  • Climate change: the monsoon is becoming increasingly unpredictable; sometimes levels of rainfall are extremely high and sometimes quite the opposite. The result is either flooding or drought, with erosion an added consequence.
  • Landscape: monoculture and deforestation are stripping the soil of its goodness.
  • Chemicals: farmers are using too many pesticides and fertilisers, and often applying them incorrectly. That negatively impacts the soil quality, the ground water and biodiversity.
  • Consumption of resources: unregulated water consumption lowers the ground water table. There is also a significant lack of organic fertilisers.

4,500 farmers

The Fair Farming Foundation cooperative brings together 4,500 small family farming businesses in the Uttarakhand region, at the foot of the Himalayas.

The farmers receive training courses from experts, experienced farmers (lead farmers) and certification bodies like Fairtrade or BIO. They learn more efficient and sustainable ways of cultivating rice, for example, using the SRI principles (System of Rice Intensification). They also learn about growing other crops and investigate other business opportunities.

Women in rice paddy
The farmers from the Fair Farming Foundation were very enthusiastic about getting involved in the project.

128.9 tonnes of rice

That's how much basmati rice we buy from the Fair Farming Foundation every year. That's around 10% of their total rice production. Within the cooperative, a total of 2,212 farmers cultivate basmati rice.

Two products

That basmati rice is used in two Boni Selection Bio products: basmati rice and the rice mix (a mixture of different kinds, mainly basmati). From March, you can buy the rice from Colruyt, Bio-Planet, OKay and Spar.

Boni Selection Bio rice mix and basmati rice
You can buy the organic basmati rice from the Fair Farming Foundation in our shops.

30% lower emissions

The results of the project are very promising. This is what the farmers have already achieved since 2011:

  • 30% lower greenhouse gas emissions thanks to new cultivation methods
  • 30% lower water consumption
  • BIO and Fairtrade certification
  • 20% to 30% more income for farmers
  • More diversification of cultivation, thanks to crop rotation
  • Better organisation of the cooperative

In other words, their rice is a real success story.

Women harvesting rice
New cultivation methods mean farmers now consume 30% less water than previously.

300 young people

The IT sector in India is booming and employs 2.8 million people. However, not all young people have the financial resources to access IT training. That’s why the Collibri Foundation supports a project run by the NASSCOM Foundation. 300 young people every year can access practice-oriented IT training courses, boosting their chances of finding a job.

Read more

Met dit initiatief dragen we bij aan het realiseren van deze Duurzame Ontwikkelingsdoelstellingen van de Verenigde Naties.

No proverty Decent work & economic growth Responsible consumption & production Life on land Partnerships for the goals