The challenges and opportunities of bringing direct-seeded rice to Asian and African farmers

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16 October 2023, MANILA, Philippines — A multisectoral discussion exploring how climate-smart and resource-efficient direct-seeded rice (DSR) systems could be effectively and widely adopted by farmers across Asia and Africa was presented at the 6th International Rice Congress.

The panel discussion, sponsored by Bayer, featured a diverse panel from different backgrounds. It included Berlinda Montanio, a DSR farmer from the Philippines; Dr. Bas Bouman, research director of the International Rice Research Institute; Professor Paul Teng, managing director of the National Institute of Education International; Dr. A.K. Singh, director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute; and Jessica Christiansen, head of Sustainability and Business Stewardship at Bayer Crop Science Division.

DSR is a crop establishment method that forgoes transplanting seedlings from a nursery by sowing seeds directly into the field. DSR presents significant opportunities for saving on resources like labor, irrigation, and energy while reducing GHG emissions. The development of DSR-optimized high-yielding and short-duration rice varieties, water, nutrient, and weed management, and mechanized and digital systems are advancing DSR as a promising approach for improving food security and climate mitigation.

The panel shared that DSR could help in challenges such as declining agricultural labor availability and aging farmers, erratic seasonal rainfall, soil degradation, and poor irrigation. DSR was seen to be especially advantageous in Africa, where most rice fields are rainfed and not irrigated.

When it came to barriers to adoption, farmers’ resistance to change and taking risks was a key issue. Many farmers are used to the traditional method of transplanting rice and are averse to new systems. Proper land preparation and crop establishment, as well as input requirements for DSR were also seen as disincentives. DSR also requires higher seed rates and is prone to more serious weed problems than…

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