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The paradoxical values of traditional deep-water floating rice systems

Updated: Apr 5

New research article by Dr. Nguyễn Văn Kiền, Senior Research Associate at Health and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (HAPRI) in Global Food Security, Vol. 26, September 2020.

David Dumaresq, Kien van Nguyen, Jamie Pittock, Min Oo, Kimchhin Sok, Tran van Hieu, Louise Blessington. "The paradoxical values of traditional deep water floating rice systems", Global Food Security, 26 (2020), pp. 100391, ISSN 2211-9124, DOI: 10.1016/j.gfs.2020.100391.


  • Deep water floating rice being replaced by high yielding varieties in Asia.

  • Commodity-value-chain analysis shows real food system outputs of SE Asian floating rice systems.

  • Rice, processed foods, stock feed, wild foods, dry season crops, animal production.

  • Dismal farmer returns versus high value downstream products - poor signals, poor value-transfer.

  • Commodity-value-chain changes can realise sustainable food and income for floating rice systems.


Deep water floating rice (DW-FR) production has declined substantially across Asia, despite being a source of nutritious, culturally important, and flood-adapted food. Low perceived commercial value, and the desire for increased rice exports, has led to intensified farming of high yielding variety (HYV) rice.

We used a commodity-value-chain analysis to investigate the values of DW-FR in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

Poor communication and value-transference along the supply chain lead to farmers receiving poor returns for DW-FR despite its high ecological, cultural, and commercial value in downstream markets. With minor adjustments, DW-FR systems could provide more sustainable livelihoods for farmers and greater food system security.

For better returns we suggest implementation of improvements to breeding, farming, transport, processing, better access to finance, improved communication, and development of other rice products.

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