Coastal Communities

Green and Seed

Increasing the sustainability of rice farming to counter sea-level rise

Team Lead

Sungjin Choe

Basic Information

Our Solution

Green and Seed

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Our tagline:

Rice-farming-in-lowlands is vulnerable to sea-Level-rise and flooding of climate change.

RICE FARMING IN HIGHLANDS USING BIODEGRADABLE FILMS AND DRIP IRRIGATION

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Our pitch:

1. Problem

Food security threatened by sea-level rise:
Rice cultivation in delta areas is vulnerable to sea-level rise. Seawater intrusion due to sea-level rise increases in soil salinity, important physical factor affecting rice production. A common climate adaptation to rice fields affected by seawater intrusion has been to change livelihoods from rice cultivation to shrimp cultivation.
But it shouldn’t be overlooked that the region produces 19% of world rice. To meet 9 billion people by 2050, rice production must continue to increase.
Many scientists have developed salt-tolerant rice varieties, but they are not commercially viable.
 
Huge water consumption and methane emission for rice farming:
In general, over 3 tons of water is needed per kg of rice. However, rice consumes about 10-30% and the remainder is wasted like evaporation and percolation. Simultaneously, when rice is growing in water, decomposition of organic matter emits large amount of methane with a global warming potential of 28. Rice paddies are the largest man-made methane source.

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The core of the problems:

Since rice grows in water, it has been cultivated in areas that are most vulnerable to climate change, using huge water and emitting large amounts of methane. Rice cultivation is a victim and criminal of climate change. 

But rice grows better when oxygen is supplied to its roots because rice isn't aquatic. Why do we grow rice in water? The answer is to control weeds. Without water, aerobic weeds with greatest population dominate the fields and rice can’t grow.

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The solution includes Upland Migration of the farmers affected by climate change and Rice cultivation in highlands. This is because many farmers don't want to move away from the affected deltas and coastal region. In order to maintain world rice production, the equivalent amount of rice must be cultivated in the highlands. Of course, we recognize that policy support, investment and capacity building are the key to this proposal. So, we describe the technical feasibility of the solution.

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3. Technology

The solution can be accomplished using Dry Soil Direct Sowing using Biodegradable Film with Seeds, called Seed Film Cultivation (SFC).

SFC minimizes water consumption by eliminating water wastage and minimizes methane emissions by growing rice outside the water.

The main steps to grow rice with SFC are:
(1) attach seeds to biodegradable film,
(2) spread out the film in dry rice field,
(3) grow rice outside water with drip irrigation.

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Seed-attacher and Mulcher are invented: 

Video-of-Seed-attacher-and-Mulcher   

Photo-records-in-cornfields-rice-farming

SFC is expected to save water over 70%, reduce almost of methane, and save labor 50% compared to conventional rice farming. Highlands SFC doesn't need herbicides, and also it reduce dependency on pesticides and fungicides.  And SFC can increase yields due to film mulching. Although the SFC requires $800 per hectare of material including $500 biodegradable film with eco-adhesive and $300 drip tape, SFC is cost effective because it can produce a considerable amount of eco-friendly rice with less labor, less water and without methane.The estimated income statement is as follows.

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Watch our elevator pitch:

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Seoul, 대한민국
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The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:

  • Building sustainable ocean economies
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About Your Solution

What makes our solution innovative:

SFC (technology) makes the solution Innovative.


1) SFC is cost-effective and eco-friendly rice cultivation with less water, emissions and labor using biodegradable films and drip-irrigation.

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2) SFC forms Seedbed by itself. 

Seedling establishment is extremely important and seedbeds are needed for good seedlings. But direct sowing can't use seedbeds, therefore seedling establishment of direct sowing is supposed to be worse than transplanting. But SFC differs in that SFC forms Seedbeds by itself. 

3) SFC is a technology convergence of mechanical engineering and biopolymer technology that enables rice cultivation to be closer to manufacturing, resulting in greater productivity.

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How technology is integral to our solution:

The core technologies of SFC is as follows:  11051_%EA%B7%B8%EB%A6%BC38_1440x810.png

Own patented inventions:

1) Seed-attacher attaches non-germinated seeds to biodegradable films with cutting holes for sprouting and makes the Seed-Film.
2) Mulcher spreads out the Seed-Film on dry fields and covers the film with soil.

Out-sourced technologies:

3) Biodegradable films are composed of PLA, PBAT and TPS  commonly used in other industries and can be produced variously according to mixing ratio and thickness depending on the decomposition conditions.

4) Eco-adhesive manufactured by ODM (Original Design Manufacturing)
The solvent used is Anhydrous Ethanol rather than VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

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Our solution goals over the next 12 months:

1. Continuous consulting for rice farmers in Hebei province, China

Zhouzhou city was once famous for its rice farming. However, it is no longer possible to produce rice due to climate change since 20 years ago. 

Cornfields' rice farming with SFC was successfully performed in Hebei Province, China in 2017.

This year, they are growing rice in a large wheat field of 66,600 m2.  


2. Proof-of-concept farming with Korean Government

Korean government couldn't believe the SFC to grow rice outside water.

For Korean government, we'll conduct 

Proof-of-concept farming in Korea National Institute of Crop Science. 
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Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:

We migrate rice farming to uplands in countries affected by seawater intrusion.

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According to AR4, Due to their extensive coastline and many river deltas, the most vulnerable spots for climate change impacts are the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and the Mekong delta.  

Newspapers showed why these area are vulnerable to natural disasters.

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FAO forecast that Bangladesh would be the 4th largest rice producer in 2017. However, Bangladesh became the 5th largest rice importer due to climate change in a few months.

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http://www.seedfilm.co.kr/en

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/sungjin-choe

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The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Rural
  • Lower
  • Middle
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The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • East and Southeast Asia
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Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:

  • Cameroon
  • Chad
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How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:

We will find our customers through international development aid, such as USAID. Generally, countries that require our solutions are underdeveloped. 

 SFC is not a simple agricultural machine but an agricultural system integration that enables rice cultivation in place where rice farming was impossible.

A $200,000 Seed-attacher can produce over 4,000 hectares of Seed-Films for thousands of farmers annually. Biodegradable films and drip tapes cost 3.2 million dollars for 4000 hectares. And with the system integrated, more than $ 10 million worth of rice will be produced. 

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How many people we are currently serving with our solution:

Our technology SFC was verified in corn fields and is now expanding in ZhouZhou city, Hebei province, Chnia.

Now, 50 Farmers are using SFC to grow rice in the wheat fields of ZhouZhou city, and held celebrations in the fields on july 9th, 2018.

The 20,000 square meter farmland below was a wheat field until last year. It had been rice fields 20 years ago. But when the water was scarce, the farmers started farming the wheat. Now farmers are very happy to grow rice again for the first time in 20 years.

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How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:

We will focus on promoting SFC's excellence this year. Then, we will help to expand the rice fields of Zhouzhou city, Hebei province in China. China has been importing more than 5 million tons of rice for many years.


After the promotion,we will ask the ODA fund enter into Vietnam and Bangladesh. Bangladesh is even threatened with food security because of floods and the sea-level rise. Vietnam is expected to suffer from rising sea-levels as construction of upper dam increases.
It is necessary for food security all over the world as well as for farmers ' livelihoods.

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About Your Team

How our solution team is organized:

For-Profit

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How many people work on our solution team:

3

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How many years we have been working on our solution:

5-10 years

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The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:

Technology convergence is the spirit of our technology.
We are former rice-farmer entrepreneurs and families. We have dreamed of cost-effective organic rice cultivation with less water and labor for years. And SFC was completed through Technology Convergence of various resources. We are always ready to attract them.
Our own technologies are Seed-attacher and Mulcher. Currently, we have registered patents on the machines in Korea, the United States, Japan, and China.
For example :
US009386737B2 (BIODEGRADING MULCHING FILM SEED ATTACHMENT AUTOMATING DEVICE HAVING CUTTING OPEN AND ADHESIVE COATING MEANS, AND SEED ATTACHMENT METHOD USING SAID DEVICE)

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Our revenue model:

We are still supplementing the revenue model with public private partnerships. 

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Our revenue model consists of selling machines, selling materials, and selling rice

Machine sales are expected to be paid from the Official Development Assistance. Countries affected by sea-level rise, or those with no irrigation systems, are usually among recipient countries. Machine sales are one-off. The estimated price of Seed-attacher is $ 120,000. Seed-attacher attaches 400 hectares of film a month and attaches 5,000 hectares of film on the basis of double harvest a year.

Once the machine is installed in the recipient country, farmers must buy the materials and attach seeds to the biodegradable films. Material costs, including biodegradable films and drip irrigation, are $ 4 million ($ 800 / ha x $ 5,000 / ha) required for one Seed-attacher. It is practically difficult to get paid for this money from thousands of farmers. Thus, a farmers’ cooperative should be formed to be effective. This requires policy and capacity building of the recipient country.

Also, the rice produced by SFC is organic rice that uses less water and labor and is free of methane. Therefore, they deserve a fair price with the help of fair traders.

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Partnership Potential

Why we are applying to Solve:

First, it is clear that the technology " Highland rice cultivation with SFC" is more like a discovery. 

Scientists are still trying to make drought-tolerant varieties and salt-tolerant varieties in vain. According to AR5, the methane from the rice fields filled with water accounts for 1.5 to 2 percent of the global greenhouse gases. Africa imports 15 million tons of rice every year despite its large land.

SFC can solve all of the above and do more.

However, we are struggling to prove SFC for those who don't trust it.

This is why we apply to MIT solve.

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The key barriers for our solution:

We need to know how much SFC saves water and methane and how much it produces rice. The key barrier is we don't have official data on these matters.      

An evaluation project with authoritative institutes is needed.

And rice cultivation with SFC is essential for global food security and for mitigating greenhouse gases.  Carbon sequestration in the Sahel is also essential for the livelihood of the residents and for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

However, all this projects seems to be inaccessible to former rice-farmer entrepreneurs.

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The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:

  • Organizational Mentorship
  • Connections to the MIT campus
  • Impact Measurement Validation and Support
  • Grant Funding
  • Debt/Equity Funding
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Solution Team

  • Sungjin Choe CEO, Green and Seed Corporation
  • Young Hoon Choe Chief Agriculture Officer, Green and Seed Corporation
 
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