Knowledge for Development

Rethinking the rice value chain

Investments in science and engineering as well as the optimization of research results and indigenous knowledge can catalyse agricultural innovation as well as enhance the performance of agricultural value chains. Capitalizing on the potential of science and technology, traditional knowledge and entrepreneurship to produce high-quality rice that benefit farmers, consumers and national economies is the focus of this new dossier. Two new lead articles as well as documents and links that provide details of the rice value chain and ways of using science and technology to boost yields and incomes are featured in this new K4D folder. 

This lead article outlines the benefits of the SRI system, in particular alternate wetting and drying irrigation (AWD), which allows a 20-50% direct reduction of irrigation water applied to the rice paddy. Under the current practice of continuously-flooded rice paddies, rice crops receive two to three times more water than other irrigated cereal crops, even though rice has a similar transpiration rate. Developing methodologies that improve water-use efficiency or water productivity in rice production will allow for saving water and for its reallocation to other uses.  20/11/2012
This lead article describes the experiences of SNV in strengthening the rice value chains in Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia. It especially considers the role of the traditional knowledge system and the changes and adaptations associated with responding to market developments and private sector involvement. It also analyses how the actors in the value chain use both traditional and scientific and technological knowledge in a changing environment. 20/11/2012
In Bangladesh, where rice accounts for almost 70% of consumers’ caloric intake, the share of the less expensive coarse rice is shown to be rapidly decreasing in rice markets and the quality premium for the fine rice has been consistently on the rise in the last decades. It thus seems that the role of rice as only a cheap staple food is being redefined. The increasing demand for the more expensive varieties is seemingly associated with a more important off-farm food sector – in particular, milling, retailing, and branding – as well as a transformed milling industry. Research further found that the labour rewards for growing different rice varieties are not significantly different and that farmers do not benefit directly from consumers’ increased willingness to pay for rice. (From the 2012 Conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists.) 11/07/2012
The new rice variety is the fruit of a partnership between FOFIFA (The Island’s national centre for rural development) and CIRAD, and is tailored to the agro-climatic conditions in the region. In particular, it is tolerant of the cold temperatures over 1200 m above sea level. Varietal creation needs to continue, to support this development and broaden the range of available varieties so as to ensure the sustainability of high-altitude upland rice production by taking on board several objectives such as resistance to rice blast fungus, nitrogen uptake efficiency, diversification of grain quality, cold tolerance and adaptation to farming systems developed as part of a conservation agriculture strategy. (CIRAD, 13/06/2012) 11/07/2012
A new interactive tool for identifying nearly 200 different weed species of lowland rice in East and West Africa was recently unveiled at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice). The tool is built on a comprehensive knowledge base that can be accessed online ( and offline on laptops and CD-ROMs or as an app on smartphones and tablet computers. 21/11/2012

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