Lotus Foods is launching a campaign to create awareness around two of the world’s most important global issues—the water crisis and women’s empowerment, and their link to rice production. Almost 4 billion people eat rice daily to survive. Growing rice uses more fresh water than any other human activity, leading to water scarcity. Women bear the burden of the back-breaking labor required to cultivate the crop.
However, there is a promising solution to these dual challenges. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative method for growing rice that is respectful of water and women while generating surplus rice for improved local and national food security. SRI is More Crop Per Drop™—a Water Smart and Women Strong way to grow rice.
“We have been partnering with farmers who use SRI practices since 2008 and we’ve been amazed by the transformation in their lives and the reduction in water used for rice growing,” says Lotus Foods Co-founder/CEO Caryl Levine. “We want to give consumers the opportunity to support production strategies that are less wasteful of water and women’s time and labor.”
Adds Co-founder/President Ken Lee: “Rice is the most widely grown food crop and more women are engaged in rice production than any other single livelihood activity. So this is a huge environmental and social issue. I find it remarkable that public and private sector donors spend billions of dollars on new seeds, using the most sophisticated technologies, and the women who are supposed to plant them have only their hands as tools. Even simple weeders like the ones women use in SRI can make a huge difference, allowing them to work in an upright posture rather than bent over for hours on end.”
In Odisha, India, for example, it takes women around 130-160 hours to weed an acre of rice, which they do in bent over posture. Weeding with a mechanical weeder takes only 16-25 hours per acre, and women can walk upright. Farmers normally weed 2-3 times. One of the goals of Lotus Foods’ campaign is to raise funds to help communities purchase ergonomically appropriate weeders for women to reduce the pain and drudgery they experience in cultivating rice. More information will be available at lotusfoods.com in the coming months.
Since 1995, Lotus Foods has been partnering in fair trade with small family farmers around the world who are growing rice sustainably and preserving heirloom and specialty rices. Lotus Foods delivers consumers healthier, versatile rice and rice-based foods that respect their multiple concerns for the highest standards of taste together with social and environmental ethics.