Rice, cultivated by humans since the dawn of civilization, now sustains 3.5 billion people while also exerting a considerable climate influence. In the conventional approach to rice cultivation, paddy fields are persistently flooded to keep the roots submerged in water. Nevertheless, this farming practice is acknowledged for its methane emissions, ranking as the second-largest contributor to climate change in terms of greenhouse gases, following carbon dioxide.
There’s a promising solution to reduce methane emissions from rice cultivation by almost 50%—a shift in the way rice is grown. While methane emissions have multiple sources, including agriculture, Tilda Rice has collaborated with more than 900 forward-thinking farmers to experiment with a method known as alternate wet drying (AWD). Instead of keeping paddy fields continuously flooded, these farmers employ pipes to monitor water levels and intermittently flood the fields. AWD not only slashes methane emissions from rice production by nearly half but also curtails energy and water consumption by up to 30%.
To foster responsible practices across all businesses, it’s crucial to initiate open dialogues. Sharing knowledge is the initial step, both for uncovering solutions and for being transparent about what we learn. While scientists have been aware of AWD for some time, its practical application in the field has been limited. By fostering better connections between researchers and producers, we’ve initiated a transformation in rice production methods.
Our aim is to expand AWD adoption among farmers in India, and we encourage our farmers to share their positive experiences to persuade others to embrace this method. We aspire to have 50% of our farm area in India implementing AWD by the same time next year. Successful engagement, connection, and collaboration will be essential for achieving this goal.
Another vital lesson is the need to integrate sustainability throughout all aspects of a business. This entails laying a solid foundation for a sustainability strategy and encouraging employees to willingly participate. We rely on a select group of sustainability experts to lead these efforts, supported by a broader workforce that needs to learn and implement new sustainability practices within their roles.
In our experience, it’s evident that consumers are increasingly demanding transparency. It matters less if brands have all the answers or make occasional missteps; what’s more important is that they communicate with honesty, openness, and transparency. While the term “greenwashing” keeps managers awake at night, “greenhushing” is just as detrimental. People need to engage in these conversations.
The journey to conducting better business requires a voice that celebrates achievements, shares insights, acknowledges shortcomings, and seeks support. We believe it’s our responsibility to be that voice as a responsible business.