When implemented, the indicators will allow each country to monitor and compare the environmental impact of its rice production with that of its neighbors, and either correct any problems or improve on existing practices. It's the first time anywhere in the world that a series of environmental indicators is being developed to monitor the impact of agricultural production on such a large regional basis.
The five indicators being developed focus on the following environmental factors: production, biodiversity, pollution, land degradation, and water.
Announcing the initiative at a special World Environment Day event (held on 2 June) in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, IRRI Director General Robert S. Zeigler said: "The aim of such indicators is to provide the members of ASEAN with a set of standards to assess the environmental impact and health and sustainability of their rice production.
"At the moment, it is very difficult for any ASEAN member nation to accurately assess whether its use of pesticides, for example, is appropriate or excessive," Dr. Zeigler explained. "The harmonization of such environmental standards across the ASEAN region is sure to provide a wide range of benefits. To give a simple example, once a standard was agreed on how to measure a person's blood pressure, a whole range of activities and treatments were developed to help a person live a more healthy life.
"The same reasoning could be applied to environmental standards or indicators for ASEAN rice production leading to cleaner water, healthier ecosystems and a better environment for the entire region."
In February, IRRI hosted a workshop funded by Malaysia and attended by Malaysian scientists
Contact: Duncan Macintosh
International Rice Research Institute