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Colombia (South America)

Santa Rosa Experiment Station in Colombia

South America is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of methane from rice: 595 Gg CH4/year or 14,875 Gg CO2e/year. Rice cultivation became widespread in Latin America in the 1900s. Rice is now the most important food grain in most tropical areas of Latin America, supplying more calories in people’s diets than wheat, maize, cassava, or potato. Of the roughly one million farmers who produce rice in the region, 80% are smallholders (Zorilla et al. 2012, citing Maclean et al. 2002). Less than a quarter of the region’s rice fields are irrigated, with areas ranging from 79% of fields in Brazil to only 1% in Mexico. Inefficient water usage is more problematic than water scarcity.

Colombia has a population of about 47.5 million and produces the second-highest level of rice methane emissions in the region: 81 2,022 Gg CH4/year . About 65% of Colombia’s 465,000 ha of rice area is irrigated. Mechanized rice represents 95% of the rice area and 98% of production. Yet almost 47% of the country’s 28,128 rice farmers use traditional manual techniques in upland rice systems. Constraints to the country’s rice production include high production costs, a shrinking domestic market, and a tenancy problem that renders 49% of the rice growers as owners and 51% as renters. Production inefficiencies, slow technology adoption, high input costs, deficient infrastructure, and the vanamiento fungus are further challenges.

CIAT, with support from the Government of Japan, promotes technologies regionally for more efficient agriculture to improve the trade competitiveness of the rice sector by reducing production costs and increasing productivity. Work includes expanding irrigation and support for direct seeding, the dominant method of crop establishment. In Colombia, private sector producer organizations currently provide technical support for rice programs, not the national government. AWD is considered a good fit because of increasing water scarcity and rising irrigation costs. CIAT is currently analyzing paddy rice emissions in collaboration with the primary producer organization, the National Federation of Rice Farmers (Fedearroz), as well as with local universities, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Hokkaido University. Support for AWD and emissions reductions is at a preliminary stage. Colombia has expressed an interest in this proposal and is one of the most active developing countries in the CCAC. It is participating in the CCAC Agriculture Initiative and National Action Planning Initiative and has a comprehensive national low-emissions development (LED) strategy.

Rice growing areas in Colombia
1 dot = 2,000 ha

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