Rice dies within days of complete submergence, resulting in total crop loss. These losses affect rice farmers in rainfed and flood-affected areas where alternative livelihoods are limited. Therefore, the incidences and severity of poverty in these areas are high.
In Asia, where most of the world’s rice is grown, about 20 million hectares of rice land is prone to flooding. In India and Bangladesh alone, more than 5 million hectares of rice field are flooded during most of the planting seasons.
The erratic floods experienced in rainfed and flood-affected areas are usually caused by heavy rainfall, overflow of nearby rivers and canals or sometimes tidal movements as in coastal areas. These floods cause serious problems for rice and other crops because of the poor or non-existent drainage and, in some cases, the topography of the land prevents fast water movement to drain flooded fields. Flooding is therefore considered a major challenge for rice production in South and Southeast Asia, where the majority of the world’s rice farmers live.