Improving livelihood of smallholder farmers through climate resilient rice farming

To strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers we promote climate smart rice cultivation which requires less water and increases yield.

Photo of Juna Shrestha
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  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • Switzerland

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Nepal: Morang


Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Rice cultivation contributes to 11% of global methane emissions, meanwhile climate change is causing yearly loss of 5 –10% in rice yield. Traditional rice cultivation in water logged fields is very susceptible to weather stress, and thus the change in monsoon –untimely rainfall events & long dry periods – has led to significant yield loss in Nepal. Owing to the weak economic condition (farm size of 0.8 ha and income of $1.3/day/person), a single season of crop failure can threaten their food security and livelihood.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

System of rice intensification (SRI), is a climate smart agro-ecological methodology based on the principle of developing healthy, large and deep-root systems that can better resist drought, waterlogging and rainfall variability. Furthermore, SRI requires 40% less irrigation while increasing rice yield by >50%. So our mission is to build the capacity of smallholder rice farmers in SRI to help them to improve their livelihood and to become more climate resilient. Since SRI reduces methane emission by >20%, it will be developed as a carbon offset program. The generated certified emission reductions (CER) will be sold in the voluntary carbon market to corporates and individuals to offset their carbon footprints. The generated revenues will finance the technical backstopping during transition phase and to scale up SRI to other regions. This allows people in Europe and US to participate in the improvement of the livelihood of farmers who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

In the first year, we have trained 20 extension workers on SRI. This has provided access of SRI knowledge and information to more than 1000 smallholder rice farmers from 3 districts of Nepal. Around 100 farmers have taken up SRI resulting in i) saving of 300,000 cu.m of water, ii) reduction in methane emissions by 200 tons CO2eq, and iii) increase in yield by > 100 tons. Each farmer family has around one ton of more yield -equivalent to 500$ income- which is a big help as average household income is 6$/day. Furthermore, our activities will have significant in protecting ground and surface water sources, through reduction in water extractions and reduced leaching of nutrients and pesticides. In the next 10 years we plan to convert > 10,000 ha of traditional rice field to SRI, which will help to improve food security and livelihood of 50,000 people, reduce methane emissions by more than 100,000 tons CO2eq and irrigation water savings by more than >300 millions cu.m.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our initiative will cost 760,000 USD over 10 years and the project will reach breakeven in the year 5. The total expense in the first 4 years is 465,000 USD of which 35% will be covered by sale of CERs and we plan to cover the rest 65% through grants and seed money. In addition, we are looking for corporates who want to carry the project risk as a part of their corporate responsibility activities and to pre-pay for the future CERs. The main project risk is the decline of carbon price in the voluntary market. To mitigate this risk, we are focusing on i) integration of SRI in the supply chain of large food companies and retailers and ii) possibility to launch water certificates. Currently, ClimateRe is financed by income from other projects and contribution from company owners.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Farmers, government and development organizations consider hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizer and irrigation for improving rice yields. In contrast to SRIs, these solutions increase the input costs and also bear significant environmental risks. Until now most of the SRI projects worldwide are financed solely through grants limiting their scope. In contrast we propose a sustainable financing mechanism through sale of CERs, allowing longer technical support and scaling up to other regions.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Born and grown up in Nepal I have seen rice farmers toil all the year round without break and holidays just to have enough to eat. When working in the development sector I realized that there is a lot of potential in the agriculture sector of Nepal. I started to dream from an agriculture revolution in Nepal and I wanted to create more impact. Therefore, I started to seek for collaboration with like-minded people. During my study in Switzerland I met a colleague who was passionate about social business and who believed that it is important to have commercial aspect in every development project. Later, another colleague joined with the idea to promote SRI in Asia. During informal chats the idea of our initiative took shape. Through years we refined our concept and now we are ready to take-off.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

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