Swift action can help protect rice farmers in Sahel from climate change

September 13, 2011

Rice farmers in the Sahel region will be able to successfully grow rice in a sustainable way despite climate change if they amend their irrigation in the short term and rice varieties are developed able to cope with higher temperatures. This is the result of research with which Michiel de Vries hopes to obtain his doctorate at Wageningen University on September 14, 2011. The study combines computer models and field experiments to show how farmers can save up to 40 percent on water consumption while maintaining a good yield.

According to De Vries it is a misconception, including among farmers, that growing rice requires a great deal of water. It is true, however, that need water for their growth and development. Due to irregular rainfall, rice farmers in the Sahel depend on irrigation. De Vries’ research shows that by adapting their irrigation approach, the farmers can save up to 40 per cent of their while maintaining a good yield. The saved water can then be used to grow rice or other crops on fields where no water is available. This could help make rice production more sustainable while also improving the local food supply.

The research by De Vries also demonstrates that the water-saving measures are probably most effective when applied over a longer time period as incidental interventions could still lead to losses in yield.

Although rice needs a lot less water than farmers think, rising temperatures due to could increase crop failure as rice plant flowers become sterile at above 36 C. This means that they cannot be pollinated and do not produce rice seeds, resulting in drastic falls in yield.

With climate change expected to cause temperatures in the Sahel to increase by two to five degrees, thermometers will be passing the 36oC mark. De Vries reinforces the necessity to quickly develop rice varieties that are more heat resistant, produce good pollen and ova, or are able to avoid heat.

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3 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2011
The swiftest solution for these rice farmers in the SAHEL would be to STOP growing rice and switch to a far less water intensive crop.

The notion that some idiot thinks helping them to continue to grow water thirsty rice in a near desert is a good thing is hilarious.

No matter how much you reduce rice water needs, it still will be far more than other crops. It's the nature of the rice plant which originally grew in inundated swampy lands.

How about teaching them to grow sorghum, wheat, jojoba, jeez.
2 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2011
Wow, they even grow water intensive crops like rice in the Sahel.

Didn't climatologists predict devastating and sustained desertification for the Sahel, just a few short years ago? Yes, they did:


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