More than a billion people - mainly small-scale farmers in developing countries - make their living, mainly or even exclusively, from rice production. Rice is the daily staple for half the global population, production stakes are key for the global food security. In some countries such as Thailand, rice is much more than just a product, it is a whole culture in itself with very strong beliefs and values attached to it.
But many small-scale rice farmers increasingly struggle for their livelihoods. Yield growth is declining due to the massive use of chemicals and soil degradation, environmental concerns on water use and carbon footprint (methane emissions) are growing, and farmers are badly affected by climate change, facing increasing droughts or floods that affect their crops.
In addition, low market prices and high costs for agricultural inputs result in low net revenues.
The introduction of trees in and around rice fields can help farmers to mitigate and adapt to such challenges by: