More Crop Per Drop:
Lotus Foods Brings Revolutionary
Agricultural Methodology to the Marketplace
By Kat Schuett
According to the World Health Organization, one out of three people in every continent currently does not have access to enough freshwater.Other esti- mates predict that by 2050 as much as 75 percent of the world’s population could face freshwater scarcity. Adding to this, by 2050, studies say we also
are going to need 50-75 percent more food to feed the world.
There is an answer though—and it starts with a single tiny grain of rice.
About half of the world relies on rice for its subsistence and livelihood. However, growing rice conventionally—by continuously flooding fields—uses over a quarter of the world’s precious freshwater.
But today there is way to grow rice that goes against the grain; that
changes the way rice has been grown for generations. It’s not a genetically modified rice, or any other kind of technology. It’s a methodology known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI)—and the
results have been almost unbelievable. By adopting simple SRI methods, yields can be increased by 50-100 percent while using 80-90 percent less seeds, little or no chemical inputs—and 50 percent less water.
SRI projects have now been launched in over 40 countries, spearheaded mainly by NGOs, universities, researchers and governments
seeking to help poor farmers raise food productivity and reduce dependence on costly inputs. Once a community’s food needs are met,
there is an opportunity to create a path from poverty to sustainable
local economies through the export of high-value heirloom rice.
Five years ago, Lotus Foods, an organic and specialty rice company,
was asked to be the bridge between these farmers and the global market. In 2009, Lotus became the first company to import SRI rice and is
still the only U.S. brand working with SRI farmers. In both 2008 and
2010, Lotus was invited to the Clinton Global Initiative to share this
idea with world leaders. As the company launches its new SRI retail
packaging this year, it hopes to prove that through this unique public-private initiative, it can drive a major change, one customer at a time.
Indonesian farmer Miyatty shows the differences between SRI (left) and conventionally grown rice (right).