Various rice straw experts and stakeholders from Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam convened on 28-29 March 2017, to discuss research milestones and future opportunities for the project ‘Scalable straw management options for improved farmer livelihoods, sustainability, and low environmental footprint in rice-based production systems.’ Martin Gummert, a postharvest and mechanization expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said, “IRRI has worked with different partners for a long time and we often work in different research areas that would help each country achieve agricultural competitiveness, however technologies can also bring in their own challenges.”
But the farmers often ask about what to do with the rice straw that remain in the field. In the old days, rice straw was commonly burned to prepare the field for the next cropping, but the practice has been found to harm the air and environment and is thus no longer encouraged. More so, there are also those who think that rice straw can actually have economic value. A project in 2016 was specifically started to study rice straw and explore various options to manage it and find ways for it to contribute to a sustainable rice production. Mr. Duong Duy Dong, vice president of Nong Lam University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam said, “At this point, we all recognize that it is important to use by-products of rice. As rice farmers strive for agricultural competitiveness in Vietnam, we must also consider the environmental sustainability and the improved quality of life of our rice consumers.” He added, “I sincerely hope that this rice straw management project would provide opportunities to work together with other stakeholders and enable us to do more.”
Presentors Pyseth Meas (Cambodia), Caesar Joventino Tado (the Philippines), and Nguyen Thanh Nghi (Vietnam) gave presentations on the situation of rice straw management and current project initiatives in their respective countries. Representatives from the University of Hohenheim in Germany updated the participants about the status of research and trials on rice straw carbonization and composting. The three-year project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development Cooperation.