World

Colombian rice growers fight climate change with Japanese tech

As Colombian farmers struggle against climate change, this edition of Global Japan shows how Japanese researchers and a private company are helping them increase rice production using less water.

We explore a research facility in Saldaña, where Colombian and Japanese researchers are developing and testing new kinds of rice that are more resistant to drought and disease.

With the Japanese firm PS Solutions, and backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA, they are also using a system called e-kakashi which uses mobile technology, an app and the Internet of Things to monitor field conditions including temperature and moisture. Farmers can use that information to regulate their inputs more efficiently.

Nicolás Laserna, Farmer, and Researcher said, “The Japanese support has been very important, very interesting for us. They have taught us a lot of things on how to manage the rice in a different way than we used to do it. They have shown us how we can use less water, and they’re also introducing a lot of new tools for us.”

We then traveled to a farm near Ibagué, where newly developed rice from the lab are being grown, saving water and fertiliser. Farmers say the new rice and agri-tech developed with the Japanese is making it easier for them to cope with the extreme weather.

Ruth Blanca Perdomo, Farmer said, “We use less water, yes, it consumes less water. The climate has changed a lot, with the temperature, the sun is very hot, so they developed this type of rice to resist this environment, this warming that’s taking place.”

During our visit, we saw how the region must cope with both, droughts in the summer and recent heavy rains that prevent the planting now, further justifying a tech approach to make cultivation more efficient.

In the capital Bogota, we spoke with the head of the programme at FEDEARROZ, the Colombian rice farmers federation, who says the work with Japanese researchers has helped its members become more productive and more competitive to boost international trade. The programme with FEDEARROZ is just one example of the century-old ties between the two countries.

Trade and investment play an important part, and they stand to increase as the two countries negotiate a free trade agreement.

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