Achieving carbon neutrality by mid-21st century is imperative to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is considered a safe threshold by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and is also included in the Paris agreement signed by 195 countries, including the EU.
A system that absorbs more carbon than it releases is known as a carbon sink, with soil, forests, and oceans being the primary natural carbon sinks. These natural sinks remove an estimated 9.5 to 11 gigatonnes of CO2 annually, while the global CO2 emissions were 37.8 gigatonnes in 2021.
Cultivation of rice is a great source of carbon sinks. Rice paddies, which are flooded with water during cultivation, provide a unique environment that promotes the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. However, this same environment also facilitates the storage of carbon in soil organic matter. When rice paddies are flooded, the lack of oxygen in the soil limits the breakdown of organic matter, allowing carbon to accumulate in the soil. This process is known as “wetland carbon sequestration” or “blue carbon.”
In addition, some rice cultivation practices can further enhance carbon sequestration potential. For example, incorporating rice straw into the soil after harvest can increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil. Rice cultivation can also contribute to carbon reduce through practices such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, and cover cropping. These practices can help to increase soil organic matter and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the soil.
European rice is produced using sustainable practices. Rice–growing systems in Europe reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices by using efficient water management systems, such as alternate wetting and drying irrigation (AWD). This method reduces water use by up to 50%, which reduces methane emissions from paddy fields, a powerful greenhouse gas. Additionally, rice-growing systems store organic matter in the soil which helps increase soil fertility while reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
These methods are environmental friendly, since they follow the European protocols for the Good Agricultural Practices, with less input (water, fertilizers, etc) on the field, and this reflect on a safe and of high quality final product. It is also worth mentioning that the Rice in North Greece is cultivated on the delta rivers of Axios, Loudias and Aliakmon in a protected area for fauna and sauna which is part of the “Natura 2000” network.
It’s safe to say that the Japonica variety of European Rice that is produced in Greece is a fantastic option for the eco-conscious cooks and beyond. Incredibly versatile, there are many ways you can cook with European Rice whether it’s boiled, fried or puffed and served sweet or savoury. Add European Rice to your weekly shop and enjoy knowing this ingredient is benefitting the local eco-systems in which it is grown!