Lotus Foods, SRI rice cultivation in Bhutan, India, Indonesia
Lotus Foods seeks to identify value chains in developing countries in order to apply the System of Rice Intensification. This system enables farmers to achieve higher yields while using less resources and no agrochemicals.
“More than 2,500 households relying on rice cultivation for their livelihoods will directly benefit from this initiative.”
Oct 2013: The IAP funded business trip was extremely successful and of enormous value in establishing new business links, identifying new value-added products, strengthening trust and understanding among current partners. Both in the US and supply countries, Lotus Food’s work has demonstrated that there is a market for farmers growing indigenous varieties. The company is hoping to show that these can also play an important role in health outcomes. The company has set up new partnerships with an Angel equity investor, RSF Social Finance for a line of credit and Nature Bio as a supplier.
This project will scale up Lotus Foods’ ‘More Crop Per Drop’ initiative for the distribution and sale of organic, fair trade heirloom rice varieties from Cambodia, Indonesia and Madagascar in US markets. The project aims to establish new value chains based on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) cultivation methods in India and explore opportunities for building out existing value chains in Bhutan and Indonesia. SRI involves a set of practices for managing plants, water and soil that is accessible to even the most resource-limited farmers, allowing them to achieve higher yields with less water, less seed and no agrochemicals. Leveraging the Lotus Foods brand name, reputation and a mature 15-year old distribution network in North America, the project aims to catalyze change in the rice market by promoting awareness of SRI methods and issues related to conventional rice production, especially excessive water use.
The commercial driver for this initiative is to become perceived as a high-value alternative to standard and commodity rice in the US, where rice consumption has been increasing for twenty years. Lotus Foods has already tapped into the market for traditional rice varieties and is selling products in thousands of stores and food service venues with organic and ethically-sourced products in North America. More than 2,500 households relying on rice cultivation for their livelihoods will directly benefit from this initiative. Other SRI farmers and importers will also benefit from publicity and demand generated from the popularisation of SRI rice in the marketplace as a result of this initiative.
IAP funding will go towards travel to each country where Lotus Foods will visit suppliers and smallholders to investigate new value chains.
|Country||India, Bhutan, Indonesia|
|Company||Lotus Foods; a small USA-based company|
|Commercial partners||Nature BioFoods Ltd. (India); Chharu Tsongdel (Bhutan); BloomAgro, Simpatik Organic Farmer Cooperative (Indonesia); Angel equity investor in mid-2012; RSF Social Finance line of credit; Nature Bio as a supplier|
|Sector||Agriculture & food|
|Low income focus||Consumers & clients|
|Business model focus||Farmers as suppliers & clients; last mile distribution|
|Revenue model||Sales of organic heirloom rice varieties on US markets|
|Lotus Foods contact||Caryl Levine, Co-owner and Co-founder: firstname.lastname@example.org|