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Rice feeds the world. One farming family is trying to grow it sustainably

Part 2 of TED Radio Hour episode What we'll eat on a warmer planet

Rice feeds the world—but it uses more water and emits more methane than any other crop. Jim Whitaker and his daughter, Jessica Whitaker Allen, are changing that on their Arkansas family farm.

About Jim Whitaker

Jim Whitaker is a fifth-generation farmer, born and raised in McGehee, Arkansas. He and his family own and operate Trinity Farms and Whitaker Grain, where the Whitakers have been farming since 1890. Jim and his brother have won multiple awards for their progress in sustainable farming.

Over the past year, Whitaker has partnered with the organization AgriCapture to establish a “Climate-Friendly'' certification for rice farming. He now serves on their board. More than 30 farms have now been certified through the program and their rice is sold through Great River Milling.

He is also a member of the Arkansas Rice Farmers Board, Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee, USA Rice Sustainability Committee, USA Rice Domestic Promotion Committee, USA Rice Foundation and USA Rice Farmers Board of Directors.

About Jessica Whitaker Allen

Jessica Whitaker Allen is a sustainable rice farmer and conservation coordinator. She is the rice stewardship coordinator at Ducks Unlimited.

Whitaker Allen received a BS in Agriculture Business and Management from the University of Arkansas and her MBA from Arkansas State University. She advocates for sustainable agricultural practices on rice farms in Southeast Arkansas.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Matthew Cloutier and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at

Web Resources

Related TED Bio: Jim Whitaker

Related TED Bio: Jessica Whitaker Allen

Related TED Talk: A global food crisis may be less than a decade away

Related NPR Links

Short Wave: Perennial rice: Plant once, harvest again and again

Researchers aim to figure out how to harvest food and electricity off the same land

A big idea for small farms: How to link agriculture, nutrition and public health

Copyright 2024 NPR

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Matthew Cloutier is a producer for TED Radio Hour. While at the show, he has focused on stories about science and the natural world, ranging from operating Mars rovers to exploring Antarctica's hidden life. He has also pitched these kinds of episodes, including "Through The Looking Glass" and "Migration."