Growing rice with drip irrigation –
Netafim has successfully concluded its pilot period and has now entered the commercial phase

Netafim joins forces with global initiatives SRP, hosted by the UN Environment Program, and Medwaterice alliance to accelerate adoption of sustainable rice cultivation

Tel-Aviv, November 16, 2020 - Netafim, the global leader in precision irrigation technology, announced that their investment in recent years to find a better alternative to traditional flooding of paddy fields has yielded excellent results. Pilot plot trials around the world have demonstrated the effectiveness of drip irrigation in enabling production of high yielding, healthier rice, while optimizing use of water, land, labor and fertilizers, and reducing GHG emissions. 

Rice is a fundamental staple for many; more than half of the world’s population depends on rice for more than 20% of their daily calories. However, rice production uses over a third of the world’s irrigation water and accounts for up to 10% of global methane emissions.  Netafim’s quest for sustainable rice production is part of Netafim’s mission to grow more with less. The trials report substantial benefits:

  • Less water and fertilizer:  Savings of 70% water and 30% fertilizer have been achieved due to reduced evaporation, runoff and leaching.
  • Efficiency in crop economy and yields: Switching from paddy to drip irrigation allows more rice crop cycles per year and rotation with higher value crops. In Tamil Nadu, India, field results show a 60% boost in farmers' annual revenues due to increased crop cycles and crop rotation.
  • Healthier rice, lower emissions: Aerobic conditions were found to reduce methane emissions from 1,000 ppm/hectare to almost zero, while also reducing arsenic levels in the rice grain by 90% - from 0.1 ppb to 0.01 ppb.
  • Better working conditions: Flood irrigation requires intensive labor to till, level and puddle the field while drip irrigation speeds up land preparation and improves working conditions for the laborers.

As part of the quest for sustainable rice production, Netafim has joined the Medwaterice initiative, a consortium of universities, research centers and private companies operating in 19 Mediterranean countries. The initiative explores the sustainability of innovative irrigation methods to extend rice cultivation outside of traditional paddy and to meet growing demand. 

In addition, Netafim became a member of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a global multi-stakeholder alliance comprising over 100 institutional members, hosted by the UN Environment Program. SRP aims to transform the global rice sector by promoting resource efficiency and climate change resilience both on-farm and throughout value chains. SRP has developed the world’s first sustainable production standard and indicators for rice, and its incentive mechanisms and outreach mechanisms are boosting wide-scale adoption of sustainable climate-smart best practices among rice smallholders. 

Netafim’s CEO, Gaby Miodownik said: “Netafim continues to innovate on our mission to support a more sustainable global food system. Our commercial drip irrigated rice is now grown on over 1,000 hectares in Turkey, India, Greece and Italy . Based on this proven success and with the help of our new partners and alliances we hope to encourage more farmers around the world to join us and grow rice with drip irrigation."

Wyn Ellis, SRP Executive Director said: “We are delighted to welcome Netafim as a member of SRP. Given the increasingly critical incidence and severity of water scarcity in most key rice production regions, we welcome technological innovations such as drip irrigation, in which Netafim brings a wealth of expertise. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration."

Covid-19 has highlighted once again the absolute necessity of food security and local productivity as a way to guarantee the self-sustainability of local communities. This can only be achieved by embracing new, more efficient and resilient growing technologies.


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