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MARS FOOD ANNOUNCES INDUSTRY FIRST STEP ON MISSION TO REDUCE IMPACT AND IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY OF RICE

10/20/2017

We are proud to announce that all of our UNCLE BEN’S® and SEEDS OF CHANGE® basmati rice is now sourced from farmers who are working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform’s (SRP) standard for sustainable rice – a first in the global rice industry. 

Rice is incredibly important. More than 3.5 billion people around the world rely on rice to provide daily nutrition, and 19% of the world’s population are employed in rice production. At the same time, rice farming has significant environmental impacts. Traditional rice production practices use approximately 40% of the world’s irrigation water, and result in rice production accounting for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With a global population growing by around 80 million people each year, demand will only increase. There is a critical need to ensure that rice can be produced more efficiently, with much less impact on the environment. 

We source our basmati rice from India and Pakistan, through farmer partnerships which enable us to trace the rice we use from field to fork. We work with our suppliers and partners, such as the International Rice Research Institute, World Wildlife Fund and Helvetas, to share innovative farming methods with farmers to improve water efficiency, reduce and safely manage their use of fertilizers and pesticides, and improve health and safety. A 2016 pilot project to test SRP technologies in Pakistan demonstrated that new growing techniques delivered an 8% increase in yield, 30% reduction in water, and 32% increase in net income. 

“The cost of farming has reduced substantially and my income has gone up”, said Irshad Ahmad Dogar, an RPL contractual farmer who grows rice for Mars according to the Sustainable Rice Platform. “I can now make sure my children get better education and schooling. Our children getting education and becoming responsible citizens of society makes my family happy.”
Since 2013 we’ve worked through the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a multi-stakeholder initiative co-convened by UN Environment and the International Rice Research Institute, to develop a global standard for sustainable rice that we can use to map our supply chain, identify gaps, and drive improvements. In addition to mapping against the 46 performance indicators of the SRP, we are going further by investing in programs to address human rights and women’s empowerment in our rice supply chains. 

“Mars Food’s efforts to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve farmer income in its basmati supply chain, is notable and serves as a model for other players in the global rice industry,” added V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Deputy Director General, International Rice Research Institute.

This is the first major milestone in our journey toward sourcing all of our rice from SRP farmers by 2020, a commitment which we announced in October 2015. 

We know we cannot drive this fundamental shift alone; there needs to be a collective effort towards a sustainable future for rice production. Implementing the SRP Standard across all rice cultivation is critical and we’re excited that a number of organizations have already signed up.