As the global population grows, so too does the demand for food – requiring production increases and potentially even greater impacts on the environment. Unsustainable agricultural practices remain one of the greatest threats to ecosystems and biodiversity. How we use the must change to reduce these losses. Raising awareness of solutions and the value of biodiversity, while incentivizing the change toward organic agriculture, can help farmers change to future-friendly behaviors.
incentivizing a shift to organic
the challenge in china
In China, the livelihoods of 200 million people depend on small-scale farming. While harvesting as much grain, cotton, soy and other crops as they can, one-third of China’s farmers over-apply chemical fertilizers driving greenhouse gas emissions and soil acidification, contaminating drinking water and reducing crop yield.
China has the opportunity to transform their farming practices and thrive socially and economically. It starts with cotton: China is the world’s leading cotton producer, importer, and consumer. Increasing demand for organic cotton and an emerging movement for safer, healthier domestic products provides a window of opportunity to transition to organic cotton. Learn more about Rare’s work with a consortium of buyers to co-develop a pioneering strategy to inspire farmers to convert to sustainable agriculture by incentivizing the transition to organic farming.
one tool in the toolkit: an eco-friendly economic model
Rare is working to expand organic agriculture as a safe, environmentally friendly, and profitable alternative for farmers.
For many farmers, a key obstacle in switching to organic farming is the cost of the transition. In the long term, organic farming can be profitable, and provides other indirect benefits for people, such as improved health and access to clean water. Through extensive research and modeling, Rare has developed an innovative economic model to help organic farmers achieve financial sustainability and potentially increase their net incomes by up to 200 percent.
Our crop plans include a variety of crops such as corn, soya, and cotton. That diversifies and protects the harvest from risks like pests, climate, and price fluctuations
Rare will ensure that farmers benefit not only from the direct sale of their crops, but also from the processing of crops and their byproducts.
Our branding strategy engages stakeholders throughout the farming supply chain, creating initiatives that bring out the appeal of going organic.
origin of the solution
Rare’s sustainable agriculture program evolved from an organic farming pilot project in China’s Tian-e-Zhou (TEZ) Oxbow Nature Reserve, a wetland in the Yangtze basin in Hubei Province, adjacent to the Shishou Elk and Finless Porpoise Nature Reserves. On roughly 100 acres of land, the farmers planted corn, cotton and soybean, following organic farming methods, including the use of organic fertilizer and less harmful methods for protecting cotton seedlings from pests — no artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides or herbicides present. The farmers also took part in poly-cropping, a method of rotating crops that aids in nitrogen fixation and increases soil quality ahead of future cultivation. Ultimately, the farmers harvested 10,000 kg of cotton, 60,000 kg of soya and 27,500 kg of corn, all of which were certified as in-transition organic crops.
Following this first successful organic harvest in Tian-e-Zhou, Rare is using the lessons learned from the farming pilot to replicate sustainable agriculture in more Chinese communities. As farmers see organic farming and its benefits in action, more can make the switch to organic farming and secure a sustainable, safe, and profitable future.