Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Upgrading rice value chains to make them more sustainable involves identifying new markets for the byproducts that are generated along the way. Technological upgrading in rice farming, for example, can bring in new challenges. While mechanized rice harvesting eliminates the back-breaking work of traditional harvesting, accomplishing it in a shorter time leaves even more straw to dispose of. Instead of burning the straw, developing a value chain for the straw itself can be achieved by finding new market outlets for the byproduct.
The BMZ-funded project at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is looking at alternative ways of using rice straw and exploring future potential markets that can bolster its value. On 1-2 June in Ho Chi Minh, key stakeholders at an expert elicitation workshop identified market prospects for potential rice straw products.
"Over the last 10 years, we have looked at technology alternatives to handle rice straw, said Martin Gummert, IRRI's postharvest and mechanization expert. "However, we have not contemplated the market potential for straw products, which is also a critical component that will ensure that the byproduct is sustainably managed."
During the 2-day workshop, Vietnamese rice experts from academia, research institutions, the private sector, and farmer groups mapped out rice straw market routes for various sectors including agriculture, food and feed, energy, and industry. They also explored key drivers of trends and institutions that might affect rice straw markets and charted future market pathways.
Dr. Duy Duong Dong, vice president of Nong Lam University, lauded the project team for pushing initiatives towards better utilization of rice straw. "I can see that the team has clear and targeted activities towards this goal and I can assure you that the university will continue to work with IRRI to out scale the benefits," he said.
Matty Demont, IRRI's value chain expert, thanked the participants for sharing their expertise. "We have developed a new workshop tool that can help generate out-of-the-box thinking with respect to future market prospects for rice straw,” he said. "More importantly, we now have a lot of insights into upgrading the strategies that are needed to achieve sustainable rice production in Vietnam."