How helping rice growers reduce methane emissions is critical to sustainability

(BPT) - Rice is one of the most popular grains in the U.S. According to Statista, Americans consumed 4.6 million metric tons of rice in the 2021/2022 fiscal year, and that trend doesn't seem to be slowing down. In addition to eating rice on its own, the grain is used in other products like rice-based cereals, cakes, noodles, milk, cheese and vinegar. While rice is a useful and popular grain, it is also a source of greenhouse gases.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, rice makes up 12% of global methane emissions, representing 1.5% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHGs warm the earth and act like an insulating blanket, exacerbating the problems of climate change. You're probably familiar with the GHG carbon dioxide, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane is 20 times more powerful. While carbon dioxide is more abundant than methane, this GHG power is just as destructive, creating a problem for rice growers.

Because rice is the primary staple food for more than half the world's population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, decreasing rice consumption isn't a viable solution. That's why Kellogg's and Syngenta have collaborated on a sustainable solution that will assist rice growers in reducing their methane emissions.

Stakeholders take note of methane production

Some rice growers are already implementing many methane-reduction practices. However, adoption has been slow. Changing farming practices is a risk that can dissuade rice farmers from adopting more sustainable practices, even if they benefit from it in the long term.

Syngenta and Kellogg's have banded together to create Kellogg's InGrained. This program will invest $2 million over five years to provide farmers in Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi River basin with training in irrigation management, nutrient management and soil health for GHG reduction. The companies hope that by partnering with growers and providing financial incentives, it will make it easier for rice producers to adopt new practices for GHG reduction, especially methane.

Rice is an important grain for Kellogg's because many of its products, including iconic brands like Rice Krispies and Special K cereals, rely on rice. When the company reviewed ways to make a big difference in rice production, methane reduction came out as the front runner.

Syngenta is committed to reducing GHG and understands the struggle of implementing new practices on an operation. Through this partnership with Kellogg's, they hope to support growers through the sustainability transition in order to reduce methane emissions.

A more sustainable rice production practice

The Ingrained program aims to help educate and train farmers on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Before spreading the program, Kellogg's needed to test and see if it worked as intended. That's why the program was first piloted at Kennedy Rice Mill, a trusted Kellogg's supplier and very large and prominent grower in Mer Rouge, Louisiana.

During the 2022 pilot year, the company offered growers $20 per ton of GHG reduction. The program also offered agronomic support, GHG quantification, and other resources at no additional cost to farmers. So far, the program has seen a successful reduction in methane emissions on rice farms.

Kellogg's is working to scale the program across more of their rice draw area to show rice farmers the value of adopting methane reduction practices. Ideally, it will help create a greener supply chain from seed to package.

"The impacts of climate change affect us all, but these impacts are of particular concern to farmers, like me, who grow crops to produce the food we eat," said Meryl Kennedy, CEO of 4Sisters Rice and Kennedy Rice Mill. "As rice farmers and stewards of the land, it's our responsibility to address the concerns."

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