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Sustainable Food Systems with Rice Bran Product Innovation to Reduce Waste and Promote Human Health

Promoting healthier diets for consumers and better livelihoods for rice producers through rice bran based foods and production systems

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Colorado State University

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

1. International Rice Research Institute (Los Banos, Phillipines). Partner for rice processing and supply chains with grain quality programs. 2. Local rice industry partners include Filipino Farmers, Millers, Animal Feed Supply, and Human food product manufacturing 3. Institute for Research and Development (IRD)-Montpellier (France) partners in Epidemiology-Public health Nutrition with expertise in Maternal and Child Health Monitoring

Website of Legally Registered Entity;;

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Fort Collins, Colorado

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The Calabarzon region of the Philippines has an area of 16,873.31 km^2 and is composed of five provinces.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations. IRRI was founded in 1960 with headquarters in Los Baños. Our connection to the Calabarzon region for this rice bran co-product innovation is related to the engaged and closely connected IRRI partnerships, such as production of pigmented rice varieties and for the wide contribution (with at least 40%) to the country's total rice supply.

These provinces are leading agribusiness with varied products (e.g. bags, baskets, slippers, hats, shawls, muscovado, coffee, honey vinegar, ginger tea, cashew nuts, etc.) Despite its progressiveness in agribusiness, childhood stunting prevalence is relatively high at about 28%, with Quezon Province having the highest level (33%). In addition to diet monotony, infants and young children of Calabarzon have lower breastfeeding rates as their mothers often work outside the home. These poor infant feeding practices together with poor hygiene and sanitation environments and lax food safety adherence contribute to considerable childhood diarrhea rates – 6.1% (Philippines), 5.5% (Calabarzon), 7.5% (poorest quintile), 8.3% (mothers with low education). Globally, diarrhea causes up to 8% and 15% of deaths in children under 5 and post-neonatally, respectively (2016, UNICEF).

We have shown that dietary rice bran supplementation can promote healthy gut bacteria, reduce growth of pathogens and reduce diarrhea episodes. The utility of a safe, sustainable rice bran product with human health functional properties will be impactful to this region. This project will leverage recent investments by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) as they have built farm to market roads (FMR) in the region to alleviate issues with distribution.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Philippines is a lower middle income, tropical country with a population of about 110 million (2019, PH PopCom estimate). It is the 8th biggest rice producing country globally, with per capita rice consumption of about 108 kg/year (almost double the global average of 57 kg). About 54% of households are considered food insecure with the poorest quintile (82%), rural (75%), agricultural (only 20% secure) and households with >5 members (62%) being inequitably affected. The prevalence of nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women has declined to 20%, but is a concern among teen pregnancies (which is on the rise) and among the poorest quintile. Stunting has persisted at about 30% of children under 5 years of age, much higher than the global average of about 22% (2018, UNICEF) and inconsistent with the country’s rate of development. The Filipino diet is typically well-milled rice and a viand of fish and/or some vegetables. Rice contributes 55% of energy, 37% of protein, and even 30% of iron (despite the relatively low iron content of rice), indicative of the low diversity and monotony of the diet. Only 23% of 6-23 month old children meet minimum dietary diversity recommendations (2018, NNS). Anemia is a big problem, with rates of 48% among 6-11 month olds, 35% among 12-23 month olds, and 26% and 14% among pregnant and lactating women respectively (2018, NNS). The Calabarzon region is the 12th largest region in the Philippines, and is also the country's second most densely populated after Metro Manila. The region itself is relatively flat, but also consists of coastal areas and highlands.

This team is committed to working with in-country partners that have developed rice varieties to yield more grain and better withstand pests and disease as well as flooding, drought, and other harmful effects of climate change. Given that more than half of the rice in Asia is planted to IRRI-bred varieties or their progenies, we will build on the institute strengths for developing new and improved heat stabilization methods that will advance the food technologies while enabling new co-products that can help farmers to manage their farms profitably and sustainably, and improve nutrition of the families.  The key linkage for rice bran is the use of local rice varieties and agricultural practices suitable to this area’s consumer preferences. Developing infrastructure for rice bran in this place also has strategic connections to broader national agricultural research and public health extension systems. This place can help to lead formulation and implemention of rice bran product development for human consumption.  This place can prevent malnutrition with a locally wasted product, which will be a novel global food system sector strategy.

The technology piloted herein will improve the efficiency and safety of rice bran extraction from the rest of the grain. We will refine approach and test in selected mills. The most proximal mills would be in the Calabarzon. The region’s agricultural production is focused mainly on pig (26% of agricultural output) and chicken (20%) rather than paddy (4.5%), but this makes it a good testing site for rice bran production and utilization. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Demand for rice is estimated to double when the global population reaches nine billion by 2050. However, rice production is gradually decreasing in many countries because of urbanization and low profitability of growing rice compared to that of the other crops (e.g. fruit, fishery, etc.). Value of rice mainly comes from milled white rice grain. By-products derived from rice such as rice straw, husk, and bran currently have low value across the rice value chains due to poorly developed technology for processing.  This manifests as a serious challenge towards achieving food and nutritional security (low nutrient intake), and adversely affects the environment (rice bran waste and loss)and economy (dollar value for bran nutrients) as well.            

Rice bran is derived from the outer layer of rice grain at milling with its global production of about 40-80 million tons (5-10% of rice) annually. It is a rich source of oil, protein, fiber and nutrients and can be used to produce feed, food, oil and wax. On the other hand, rice bran is lipid-rich, which cause lipase-mediated oxidation and rancidification. Raw rice bran therefore has short shelf-life, leading to limited utilization for feed and food production. It therefore adversely affects the value and market of raw rice bran produced in rice industry in most of the rice production countries in Asia and Africa. For instance, cost of raw rice bran in Vietnam in 2019 was about 40-60 $US per ton, just slightly higher than that of husk; thus a significant amount of bran are used for heat generating purpose through co-firing with husk. The waste of bran merits immediate attention as nutrients in bran are deficient in the people.  The protection against diarrheal disease and malnutrition is possible with rice bran as a human food system solution.

Technical barriers of the short shelf-life of rice bran can be solved by stabilization processes, as these are mature technologies currently used in several countries such as United States. However, this is not the case for many developing countries. Poor processing and incomplete stabilization of rice bran may lead to multiple problems including, but not limited to, lack of and imbalance of rice bran nutrients for feed and food production; low income from rice production contributing to poverty and reduced interest in rice production, which further endangers food security.  Poor adoption of technologies for processing, especially stabilization of rice brain is mainly caused by the following challenges:

  • Poor quality rice bran (e.g. high content of impurities, husk, moisture contents, etc.) obtained from the existing rice production practices.
  • Lack of introduction and adoption of technologies in rice value chains e.g. sifting (cleaning/ grading), drying, stabilizing, storage, and high-end production (oil, wax, etc.) for the developing countries such as Philippines, Myanmar, etc.
  • Bottlenecks and gaps in the system – rice bran value chains, lack of markets for high quality or processed rice bran markets driving technology development.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The project will address the challenges through adapting and adoption of new technologies; application of new knowledge to improve the rice-rice bran value chain and sustainable technology perception; and building capacity for the country partners. This project, as a piloting and verifying phase, will be implemented in the Philippines based on the following activities:

  • Characterise rice bran derived from the typical rice mills in the Philippines. We will collect rice bran samples of three varieties produced in the Philippines, e.g. from traditional, aromatic, and heirloom rice. Different rice processing practices (e.g. small-scale one-stage and two-stage rice milling and industrial rice milling) will be also considered in the research alongside quality factors of bran such as purity, size, lipids, nutrients, etc.
  • Identify, verify, and adapt rice bran stabilization technology appropriate to the processing practices and value chains in the Calabarzon region.  We will set up a pilot study of rice bran processing which includes drying, sifting/cleaning, stabilization and storage of bran oil and bran-based food; and verify the technology processes adapted from the United States. The experiment and verification trials will be with the rice mill, drying and storage facilities, high-level expertise, sample analysis lab, and reliability of the data collection.
  • Investigate and develop strategy to identify market and develop value chain of rice bran based products. We will conduct a prospective market study for rice bran in both raw bran material (after milling) and its end-products (e.g. feed, food, oil, and wax) in the Philippines. We will estimate the potential future demand for the products under a set of forward-looking scenarios. Multi-stakeholder meetings will be also facilitated to map the related value chains as well as to develop strategies for upgrading them.  
  • Conduct business model analysis to prepare for an out-scaling phase for rice bran based products. We will conduct a feasibility study for stabilized bran based on the two scenarios of i) rice bran stabilization integrated in rice mill; and ii) a separate business model for rice bran processing.
  • Support to pilot one business model in one part of Calabarzon region.

 The project will be led by the Colorado State University (CSU) (Dr. Elizabeth Ryan) and implemented by IRRI based on their strong expertise and research availability. CSU will lead the activities for identifying and developing the technologies which are fitted in the value chain context of the region (e.g. Asia). IRRI will lead the activities of piloting and verifying the technologies and R&D on market and value chain. Collaboration of these institutions provides an optimized platform with the necessary training of personnel to upgrade rice-bran value chains for human health.  

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

We anticipate a number of integrated human, social, economic and environmental capital outcomes for the Calabarzon region as a result of local, sustainable, rice bran production. Following regular consumption of a safe, affordable and highly nutritious rice bran food ingredient, we envision that low income women and children will no longer be malnourished and facing the lifelong consequences of growth stunting.   

Notably, this project directly addresses the sustainable development goal (SDG) #12 through responsible production and consumption. The major deliverable of rice bran as an innovative product for human consumption will undoubtedly lead to improved nutrition to all rice consumers. Rice bran will provide essential B and E vitamins as well as prebiotic fibers, healthy plant fats and phytochemicals that are deficient from the population.

The multi-use integration of rice bran into a number of local cuisine and food products will invigorate food industries to supply more nutrient rich foods and families will have more income and purchasing power from the rice bran value addition in rice-crop farming systems. Furthermore, the higher Income generation for rice farmers- due to higher value to the seed, could also allow for more entrepreneurial opportunities with millers, and ultimately improvements to a suite of socio-economic and nutritional security inequalities across the food system.

Rural production of rice bran and job creation in this new sector of the rice supply chain could also reduce the numbers of individuals pursuing urban migration. It is also possible that we will see more and not fewer young people engaging in food systems co-product creation as this idea could fuel the desire to reduce waste in other cereal product streams (e.g. millet, sorghum, wheat etc.) Importantly, this project is deeply rooted in the need to improve resilience to climate change impacts on rice grain quality (droughts and floods). 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

This full vision will be a zero waste system for essential nutrients and healthy food components from the rice food system, and that rice bran is culturally integrated in the daily diet of the entire family across all socioeconomic demographics.  Thus, we will have resolved nutritional deficiencies in vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids by 2050 without additional inputs into the system. This visionary project has strong impact potential to influence local food culture, attitudes, public health, economics of rice systems, sustainable food technologies and food policies around the world’s largest staple food crop.  A major breakthrough and driving force for the global impact potential for rice bran is the opportunity to also measure significant reductions in diarrheal disease burden across the lifespan.  With regular consumption, rice bran will aid gut health by improving nutrient absorption, and thus we will expect to see reduced malnutrition and stunting in children under 5, as well as mitigation of chronic disease risks after adolescence and into adulthood.

The vision to locally and globally revolutionize health involves the culturally adapted-rice food system that includes procurement and stabilization technologies to prevent rancidity of the rice bran food ingredient for humans.  The complete range of global health impacts with rice bran will be realized when this low cost, locally available byproduct of rice agriculture is consumed regularly as a food ingredient by mothers and children in the Philippines and is also adopted as a practice by other rice producing regions experiencing high rates of stunted children (Kinyuru et. al. 2015).  Our current findings from clinical trials with rice bran dietary supplementation provide compelling support for the immediate health impacts on children consuming rice bran (Zambrana et. al. 2019). Regular consumption of a local rice bran product in Philippines and other developing nations with malnutrition will be major accomplishments towards sustainably improving maternal and child health outcomes.

Expanding the Research and Technological Developments for Rice Bran as a Sustainable Product from Rice.

While brown rice remains a niche market, we envision RICE BRAN has stronger near-term potential to become a highly aspirational local product with value chains that embrace culturally diverse rice cultivars. This food system vision prize would help launch bran from traditional rice grains with agronomic valued traits towards a truly novel dimension of rice seed identity preservation and plant biodiversity for human health traits. The rice food system (which feeds over half of humanity on the planet) will be inspired to enhance the utility of this major agricultural co-product/by-product and particularly when harvested and consumed by varieties with high cultural value. 

Rice production in the Philippines is currently insufficient to meet population needs. Consumption of rice bran (which constitutes about 8-9% of the grain’s weight) can contribute not only to an increase in the nutrient intakes, but also reduce the over-all quantity of rice needed, at the population level. Rice bran is typically fed to pigs and other livestock, as Filipinos prefer to eat white rice. We will not try to change preference for white rice, but rather the food systems vision incorporates rice bran into local diets to sustainably meet nutritional needs. From anecdotes, rice bran for livestock costs 50-60% less than commercial feeds for pigs. Rice farmers typically pay to have their rice paddy milled – and while white rice is for their households, bran goes to the pigs and sometimes to their chickens with little or no additional feed costs. Women entrepreneurs will further advance rice bran as a value added product for households with high nutritious side dishes and prepared foods.  Our compelling evidence for rice bran to be feasibly self incorporated at the household level into many local cuisines supports this full vision. We envision this project and team will catalyze innovations in village-level, scalable technologies and food system applications can be scaled for local and global impacts on human health.

Reducing the environmental impact of rice production systems. 

The discovery and piloting scale activities on rice bran utilization is a strategic environmental investment in the broader vision of capacity building, waste reduction and energy conservation in food system supply chains. The environmental gains from a zero nutrient waste stream include reducing the demand for fertilizer-pesticides, water, and energy to produce higher yielding rice crops.The business models for this project will initiate important interdisciplinary partnerships, and provide scalable technology options in diverse climates.  We envision that new practices to enhance the overall sustainability of rice production systems, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and health risks caused by burning of rice straw will emerge. Working with public and private sector partners to create viable business and technology models for using rice by-products may be further advanced by integrated renewable energy services in rural areas.

Inclusion of women and youth to scaling up innovations in rice value chains

Our strategic teams will provide novel training opportunities with academic, pubic and private sector partners to enhance the inclusion of women and youth in the rice value chain for safe, dignified and viable employment and entrepreneurial opportunities around rice bran co-product creation.  Nutritional factors of rice bran such as fatty acid content, inactivation of lipases, unique phytonutrients and bran quality traits for taste and smell will be developed from the popular Philippine varieties currently being used. Based on metabolite profiling data (Zarei et. al. 2017 and 2019) that results from culturally accepted-popular varieties, by 2050, we will have identified, prioritized and standardized rice bran traits into plant breeding programs . After nutritional properties are found in popular varieties, then there will be future opportunity to continue characterization of rice diversity lines adapted to changing climate conditions. We will work closely with private seed companies, millers, agricultural machinery manufacturers, and CSOs to adapt and scale up innovations in stabilization technologies.  We will also partner with governments to promote and accelerate expansion and dissemination of improved varieties, research technologies, and packages of science-based best practices. There is more untapped potential in the rice agri-food sector regarding rice bran based food technological developments that link to stronger livelihoods, better nutrition, and improved incomes of millions of smallholder farmers and their families.

This project team (IRRI/CSU/IRD) will work in partnership with policy makers and national research and extension systems to deliver consolidated research and education support services that will improve the efficiency, sustainability, and equity of the region’s rice-based agrifood sector. The team vision to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is possible via the scaling of the developed rice bran technology and increasing human consumption in other countries in Asia and Africa where similar practices (preference for white rice, discarding the bran for animal feeds or as waste) also abound.

Referenced literature:

Luis E. Zambrana, Starin McKeen, Hend Ibrahim, Iman Zarei, Erica C. Borresen, Lassina Doumbia, Abdoulaye Bore, Alima Cissoko, Seydou Douyon, Karim Kone, Johann Perez, Claudia Perez, Ann Hess, Zaid Abdo, Lansana Sangare, Ababacar Maiga, Sylvia Becker-Dreps, Lijuan Yuan, Ousmane Koita, Samuel Vilchez & Elizabeth P. Ryan*. (2019). Rice bran supplementation modulates growth, microbiota and metabolome in weaning infants: a clinical trial in Nicaragua and Mali. Scientific Reports. 9, Article 13919.

Zarei I, Brown DG, Nealon NJ, Ryan EP*. Rice Bran Metabolome Contains Amino Acids, Vitamins & Cofactors, and Phytochemicals with Medicinal and Nutritional Properties. Rice (N Y). 2017; 10:24. DOI: 10.1186/s12284-017-0157-2. PubMed PMID: 28547736; PMCID: PMC5453916

Kinyuru JN, Borresen EC, Ryan EP* (2015). Nutritional and Safety Evaluation of Heat-Stabilized Rice Bran for Supplementary Feeding of Malnourished Children in Kenya. International Journal of Food Science Nutrition and Dietetics. 04(6), 226-232. DOI: 10.19070/2326-3350-1500041

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Hi Elizabeth Ryan 

Welcome to the Food Vision Prize community!

For the last hours before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide:

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST :)

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