Bayer, GenZero and Shell Team Up to Reduce Methane Emissions in Rice Cultivation

German multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Bayer, in collaboration with Temasek-owned decarbonisation investment platform GenZero, and Shell Energy are pooling their resources to tackle methane emission reduction in rice cultivation.

The proposed approach by the trio will include training, support, and guidance for smallholder farmers while utilising Measurement, Reporting & Verification (MRV) mechanisms incorporating remote sensing technology. The project aims to set a benchmark for similar efforts in the rice decarbonisation space.

Frederick Teo, CEO of GenZero, said: “Rice is one of the leading sources of methane emissions, with India being the second largest producer of rice globally. With this programme, we aim to transform the future of rice cultivation by driving the adoption of alternative wetting and drying as well as direct seeding techniques across smallholder farmers in India.”

“The aim is to reduce the amount of water required for farming across many water-stressed agricultural regions in India and reduce methane emissions arising from rice cultivation, supporting the transition of the agricultural industry towards a low-carbon future.”

Paddy rice cultivation is responsible for approximately 10% of global methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential over 27 times that of carbon dioxide.

Rice farms occupy 15% of the global farm area, equivalent to more than 150 million hectares worldwide. It also consumes around one-third of the global fresh water. To address the challenges of climate change and limit global temperature rise, a significant and scalable effort is required to promote methane emissions reductions in rice cultivation.

Over the last two years Bayer said it has already done the necessary groundwork and initiated a pilot Sustainable Rice Project across India. It started with an aim to generate carbon reductions by encouraging rice farmers to switch from the current practice of transplanting with continuously flooding fields to Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) that involves controlled and intermittent flooding and Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) that involves no transplanting operations and very limited flooding.

With this collaboration in place, the Programme in its first year aims to significantly scale up its coverage to 25,000 hectares of rice cultivation.

Any success achieved during this first year will pave the way for the implementation of an even larger-scale sustainable rice project. Beyond greenhouse gas reduction, the programme is expected to generate other benefits such as water savings, soil health improvement, and enhanced community livelihoods for smallholder rice farmers.

To ensure scientific accuracy and credibility, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a globally renowned scientific institution, will provide valuable support in conducting scientific assessments of greenhouse gas reductions, water use reductions, and improvements in soil health.