Whetting Singapore's thirst for rice

March 5, 2010

Singaporeans consume around 275,000 tons of rice each year, which requires 688 billion liters of water to be produced - 2.5 times Singapore's annual domestic water use.

Competition for is getting fiercer and water supplies are dwindling, yet Singapore can contribute to securing its rice supply by joining the global community in helping farmers become water-wise.

This is the key message from Dr. Bas Bouman of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), who will present "Preparing Rice for the Global Water Crisis" as part of the Environment and Climate Change Seminar Series of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore.

"To produce one bowl of rice it takes about 500 liters of water," said Dr. Bouman.

"For a city like Singapore, the question is whether the 688 billion liters of water needed to produce the country's rice will remain available."

Worldwide, water for agriculture is becoming increasingly scarce as groundwater reserves drop, water quality declines because of pollution, irrigation systems malfunction, and competition from urban and industrial users increases.

Climate change will also reduce water availability in large parts of the world. And, by 2025, 15-20 million hectares of irrigated rice will suffer some degree of water scarcity.

"Farmers can reduce the amount of water they use to grow rice by 10-30% if they adopt water-saving technologies, such as 'alternate wetting and drying,'" said Dr. Bouman.

"The hardest part is to deliver these technologies to farmers. The public and private sector need to mobilize to promote and implement the existing water-saving technologies through policies, partnerships, and extension and education efforts.

"At the same time, investments in research to develop new water-saving technologies need to be increased so that the future of rice production is safeguarded."

Dr. Bouman's visit to Singapore is part of IRRI's 50th anniversary activities, which included the launch of the IRRI Fund and a campaign to raise US$300 million to support rice research to help ensure that rice production is sustainable, to reduce poverty and hunger, and to improve the welfare of farmers and consumers.

Explore further: Rice research pays off big

Related Stories

Rice research pays off big

December 17, 2005

Rice research leading to new and improved varieties resulted in some in farmers being lifted from poverty in China and India, a study shows.

Arkansas rice farmers file a lawsuit

August 30, 2006

A group of Arkansas rice farmers has filed a state lawsuit against Bayer CropScience and Riceland Foods Inc., concerning genetically modified rice.

Water-stingy agriculture reduces arsenic in rice markedly

July 28, 2008

A new farming method first developed to conserve precious irrigation water may have the added benefit of producing rice containing much less arsenic than rice grown using traditional rice-farming methods, researchers in the ...

Climate change threatens rice production

October 16, 2009

Once-in-a-lifetime floods in the Philippines, India's delayed monsoon, and extensive drought in Australia are taking their toll on this year's rice crops, demonstrating the vulnerability of rice to extreme weather.

Recommended for you

Researchers investigate increased ocean acidification

August 3, 2015

The primary cause of global ocean acidification is the oceanic absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere. Although this absorption helps to mitigate some of the effects of anthropogenic climate change, it has resulted in a reduction ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.