The Newest Eco-Friendly Food- Rice Stomped by Endangered Birds

By Iwata Mari.

Reviewer: Ang Lee Yee Madeline

  In this article, Iwata Mari wrote about the undergoing efforts of the municipal government in Sado Island to conserve, breed and subsequently reintroduce the endangered Asian Crested Ibis to the wild. Faced with a difficult situation of protecting the species, while not jeopardizing on the farmers’ livelihood, the government is looking to promote and market high-priced “Ibis stomped” rice.

  The Ibis conservation project signifies a part of Japan which sees the need to protect biodiversity and to save endangered species. Such an attempt is made possible by engaging in environmentally-friendly practices to restore the agricultural wetland landscape needed to sustain the birds. As Iwata noted, farmers set apart feeding areas in part of their rice fields, introduce only minimal inputs of agricultural chemicals and fertilizer, and made irrigation channels bare so as to not kill off fish and insects that are the staple food of the birds. However, the author failed to take into account the significance of Sado’s conservation efforts beyond its use of environmentally-friendly practices. I argue that Sado’s conservation efforts is important as it moves away from the conventional idea of “fencing” the protected animal. Instead, the conservation effort is paired up with community participation, allowing farming and conservation to go hand in hand.

  Moreover, the “Ibis friendly agriculture” helps add value and price to the certified rice. Quoted from the article, the authorities clearly hoped that the marketing strategy of “Ibis stomped” rice would appeal to some. However, I argue that it is the sense of involvement and contribution to the efforts in preserving the Ibis, that would appeal to consumers to make the purchase.

  Thus, the ‘green’ concept here highlights a conservation effort that not only involves environmentally-friendly practices, but is made possible through the involvement of the community, and the conscious participation of the consumer.


  1. Iwata, M. (2013, August 1). The Newest Eco-Friendly Food- Rice Stomped by Endangered Birds. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

One thought on “The Newest Eco-Friendly Food- Rice Stomped by Endangered Birds

  1. This article describes an unusual combination of commerce and environmental efforts. It is unfortunate that the authors of the original article did not include mention of the satoyama, which is referenced in the linked article. Only in the satoyama can one find all the conditions required for this kind of program, in which conservation is explicitly not an act of protection through separation from mankind, but an act of utilizing engineered spaces (rice fields, irrigation ditches) to create the satoyama habitats in which the ibis can survive. This is no return to a pristine nature, but a return to a less adulterated (with chemicals) agrarian past.

    The cost of the rice to consumers is double the normal rice, although there is always a surplus. It will be interesting to see if this becomes more or less popular as time passes.

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