U.N. honors CIAT project that “saved” rice crops in Colombia

Research by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, which saved some 1,800 hectares (4,400 acres) of rice from the drought in northern Colombia, has been awarded a prize by the United Nations as one of the best ideas for dealing with climate change worldwide. The study, which concluded that changing the date for sowing rice crops could improve harvests, was one of the winners of the Big Data Climate Challenge, according to a communique issued by CIAT, whose head office is in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali. The research consisted of using the exhaustive data about crops provided by the National Rice Growers Federation (Fedearroz) and the Colombian Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (IDEAM) to make an analysis and determine the possible factors that were affecting harvests. “Through a case study in two rice growing areas, we observed that the big climate factor limiting yields is accumulated solar energy during the grain ripening phase,” CIAT researcher and project leader Daniel Jimenez said. The communique added that “in another case study, the analysis of historical weather data revealed that a diverse set of distinct climate patterns occurring over the years…is clearly associated with growing conditions that are favorable or not for production.” “To ensure that crops get optimum radiation, farmers can just shift the sowing date, and to further reduce yield losses, they can adopt rice varieties that are less sensitive to the amount of radiation received,” Jimenez said. The Big Data Climate Challenge was launched last May by Global Pulse, a United Nations initiative that seeks to make use of Big Data systems as a public good for sustainable development, together with the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Team, the note said. The prizes will be awarded at the United Nations Climate Summit next Sept. 23 in New York City. EFE

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