Direct Seeded Rice project gets COP27 spotlight

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) - Bayer Crop Science project on Direct Seeded Rice (DSR), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was one of the three ‘Innovation Sprints’ announced on November 11  at the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) at the Food and Agriculture Pavilion during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. 

At last year’s COP,   President Biden launched the AIM for Climate, an initiative led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to increase research and development for climate-smart agriculture and food systems. USAID is playing a leading role in AIM for Climate, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC).

Under the AIM4C, the innovation sprint is an increase in aggregate self-financed investment from non-government partners to achieve an outcome or output in agriculture innovation and for climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and food systems to be completed in an expedited time frame. The USAID-Bayer-IRRI DSR project highlighted by USAID Administrator Samantha Power is on the introduction and conduct of on-farm testing and the scaling of improved germplasm and climate-smart agronomy for smallholder rice farmers in Asia and Africa, which is supported by digital tools and remote-sensing-led targeting. It also focuses on strengthening key actors in the seed systems to ensure gender-inclusive, equitable access to climate-resilient varieties and good quality seeds. IRRI is the lead implementing partner of the project. DSR is one of IRRI’s flagship programs and is designed to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on climate change adaptation and mitigation by reducing the use of water, energy resources and greenhouse gas emissions,” “With the research put into the DSR program, vibrant and resilient rice-based systems are adapted to climate change and to water and labor shortage, and are suitable for easy integration into diversified farming,”  said Dr. Hans Bhardwaj, the leader of the project and the head of Rice Breeding Innovations platform at IRRI. 

At the Food and Agriculture Pavilion co-hosted by CGIAR, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Rockefeller Foundation, the AIM4C discussed the progress made since its launch last year and its path forward to significantly boost agricultural innovation to address the climate crises by 2025.

USAID Administrator Power said, “Together with Bayer Crop Science and the International Rice Research Institute, our first innovation will help scale the sustainable production of rice. Currently, the flooding required to grow rice produces methane, a climate pollutant 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, making rice cultivation one of agriculture’s largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. New rice varieties and seeding methods reduce the need to flood the soil, saving water and reducing methane emissions by at least 30 percent.”

USAID committed to advancing AIM for Climate through investing in climate smart food systems in 2021. This included $215 million to help 200 million people in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa raise agricultural productivity by 25 percent by 2030 through investments in the critical work of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. USAID also committed to investing in new research through two Feed the Future Innovations Labs, on Horticulture and Current and Emerging Threats to Crops, to ensure a pipeline of innovations that address climate resilient fruits and vegetables and mitigate the threat posed by pests and diseases that are increasing due to climate change.

Similarly, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in the Americas Pavilion also highlighted IRRI’s DSR project. 

Read USAID Administrator Samantha Power’s full speech here:

 Read USAID commitment to investment in climate smart food systems: