A partnership to train and support rice producers in Vietnam in more sustainable rice growing techniques and pilot an innovative Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) method that uses artificial intelligence and satellite technology to quantify the methane emission reductions achieved. The technology will make MRV less expensive, more accurate and easier to scale – lowering carbon market entry barriers for smallholder rice producers and generating new incentives and the funding needed for more farmers to move to more sustainable production.
Growing rice, a daily staple for a large proportion of the world’s population, produces 12% of the world’s anthropogenic methane emissions and accounts for 28% of freshwater withdrawals. Sustainable techniques, such as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), can save farmers money, cut methane emissions by up to 48% and reduce water use by around 30%. Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contribution aims to apply AWD techniques on between 500,000 and 1,200,000 hectares of rice land. However, it is not being adopted fast enough to meet its potential in combating climate change.
In Vietnam, 85% of rice farmers are smallholder farming on less than 0.5 hectares of land. Together, these farmers can make a significant difference to the country’s methane emissions and water use by adopting AWD. However, convincing individual farmers to learn and adopt the technique requires incentives. Carbon credits could be an excellent way to finance inclusive training campaigns and offer financial incentives to rice farmers. To date, development of rice-based carbon projects in Vietnam has been limited by cumbersome and labour-intensive MRV processes that are time consuming, expensive, and unsuitable for the smallholder farmers that make up much of the industry.
Remote sensing could play a role to replace these manual audits, making it less expensive and easier to verify carbon credits from AWD – and hence lowering barriers to access carbon markets for smallholder rice growers.
About the initiative
The initiative aims to train more than 2,000 rice smallholder farmers and introduce them to AWD, pilot a satellite and artificial intelligence based MRV system that can quantify methane emission reductions remotely, and certify and sell the reductions on voluntary carbon markets.
The training and support, coupled with the reduced cost of the remote MRV, means even smaller carbon projects can break-even, lowering the barriers to voluntary carbon markets entry and enabling Vietnamese smallholder rice producers, cooperatives, and NGOs to benefit at scale from the development of their own high-quality carbon projects.
Testing and trialling new technologies
The partnership will pilot a world-first satellite-driven MRV for rice, with the potential to lower carbon market entry barriers by significantly reducing verification costs. The satellite MRV will leverage advances in remote-sensing technology to detect sustainable practices and accurately estimate emissions reductions from satellite images. The pilot will collect data collection to validate the approach.
Significant climate impact
The partnership aims to support 2,000 farmers over 3,000 hectares transition to AWD – which reduces water usage by around 30% and methane emissions by around 48% – through workshops, school plots and technical assistance. For this partnership, that is expected to translate to a yearly carbon abatement of approximately 14,000 tonnes and around 30 million cubic meters of freshwater saved each year.
Additionally, the remote MRV technique has the potential to scale these impacts significantly, encouraging wider-spread uptake of AWD by showcasing how carbon credits can be leveraged to fund the transition to more sustainable practices.
Increased incomes and opportunities for smallholder farmers
The partnership will work with 2,000 rice farmers, including 500 women farmers, to implement AWD, with the potential to increase their profits by 15-20% through lower production costs, increased yields and the sale of carbon credits. Partnership activities plan to generate approximately $360,000/year from carbon credit sales, mainly going to farmers through incentives.
Key contributions from partners:
- CarbonFarm is developing the initiative’s MRV systems and will oversee the carbon credit process from MRV to certification to sale.
- Rikolto is implementing the 3,000 ha sustainable rice carbon project, including training and support for farmers to transition to AWD. Rikolto will also work to incorporate gender-sensitivity and youth inclusivity in rice value chains.
- International Rice Research Institute is providing scientific advisory and on-the-ground data control support to ensure the project achieves the desired emissions reductions.
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides catalytic funding and can offer expertise to strengthen social and commercial impacts, connection to an extensive network, support to capture and report social impact, and national and global recognition.
Hear from our partners:
“Our vision of the world is one where land stewards won’t just be paid for the food they produce, but also for their impact on the environment. Thanks to our BPP partnership, we are piloting this vision at scale with 2,000 rice farmers in Vietnam. I am looking forward to seeing how satellite-verified carbon credits can accelerate the transition to sustainable practices, and lower barriers to access carbon markets worldwide!” Vassily Carantino, Co-founder, CarbonFarm.