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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition SRI - much more than more rice

SRI - much more than more rice

last modified Jan 16, 2015 10:11 AM

However we look at it, the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, is a major success story. While researchers are still debating its relevance, more and more people and getting to know about it, and more and more farmers are harvesting the results.

From Madagascar to more than 50 countries, and from rice to other crops, the dissemination of SRI has been impressive. This is a fascinating case study of innovation from below, involving local authorities, "champions", extension agents and millions of farmers.

Farming Matters | 29.1 | March 2013

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Table of contents:

  • 3 - 3
    Geraldo Cândido da Silva, known as Dadin, lives with his wife Cida and their two children as farmers in the mountainous region of Zona da Mata, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The diversity of species on their farm not only benefits the environment but also contributes significantly to the family’s income.
  • 5 - 5
    The story of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an interesting one. It illustrates that relatively simple innovations can make a world of difference. It also shows that the transition to sustainable agriculture is a comprehensive social learning process involving many stakeholders – primarily farmers.
  • 6 - 6
    Deadline: June 1st, 2013
  • 7 - 7
    Farming Matters welcomes comments, ideas and suggestions from its readers. Please contact us via e-mail at or write to P.O. Box 90, 6700 AB Wageningen, the Netherlands.
  • 8 - 9
    However we look at it, the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, is a major success story. Over the past decade it has helped millions of family farmers, notably in Asia and Africa, to improve their food security and food sovereignty. SRI methods simultaneously raise the productivity of the land, labour, water and capital employed in irrigated rice production. The approach is now being applied to other crops, such as wheat, maize, millet, sorghum, vegetables and tubers, and is proving equally effective. While the research establishment is still debating the relevance of SRI, more and more people are getting to know about it, and more and more farmers are practising it.
  • 10 - 13
    Since the first successful SRI results outside Madagascar were reported from Indonesia, India and China in the year 2000, we can distinguish two major periods for SRI. The first period, referred to as SRI 1.0, lasted loosely from 2000 to 2008. The second is proving to be even more interesting.
  • 14 - 15
    Although hardly enough to meet the national demand, rice yields in Peru are high, reflecting an apparently efficient production system. Working together with other farmers, and not always with the national research and extension system, farmers’ initiatives are showing that a much more efficient way is possible.
  • 16 - 19
    Interview > Norman Uphoff - Norman Uphoff, Professor Emeritus of Government and International Agriculture at Cornell University, served as director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development (CIIFAD) from 1990 to 2005. During this time he became acquainted with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Madagascar, and realised that “something unusual was going on” as farmers were obtaining average paddy yields of eight tons per hectare instead of their usual two tons. Recognising the huge potential benefits, he has been working ever since to promote the testing, evaluation and understanding of SRI. “People can overestimate my role as easily as they can underestimate it… the truth is that the actual work has been done by thousands of people around the world.”
  • 20 - 22
    It was an afternoon of 2002 when I first read about SRI. As an extension officer in the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), I started promoting SRI in the following years in the district of Morang, Nepal. Over this time I observed hundreds of attractive SRI fields and spent some years as a SRI activist. Looking at the results, I’ve learnt that different farmers face different problems, and that they adapt all techniques to suit their diverse circumstances and needs.
  • 23 - 23
    (March 2013) Fatou Batta looks at the key role women play in African agriculture.They do more than 70% of the work on the land, and are responsible for almost all processing activities. But do we understand clearly enough the roles of rural women farmers? How can we provide women with strategic support that can enable them to influence agriculture policies?
  • 24 - 25
    A key goal of the joint Hivos/Oxfam Novib Knowledge Programme, Agrobiodiversity@knowledged, is to share knowledge and experience about farming practices from all over the world that use and enhance agricultural biodiversity. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is usually promoted as a successful approach for increasing productivity and decreasing costs. The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS) has demonstrated that SRI can also contribute to the conservation and wider dissemination of local and indigenous rice varieties, with positive outcomes for both farmers’ livelihoods and biodiversity.
  • 26 - 28
    Between 2004 and 2010, the Groupe de Recherche et d’Echanges Technologiques (GRET) supported the introduction and dissemination of SRI in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State, as part of a series of projects aiming at ensuring food security. Based on this initial experience GRET started to introduce the System of Rice Intensification in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. Working in a new setting and context, the overall results were different – but no less interesting.
  • 29 - 29
    The World Bank Institute (WBI) developed the multimedia toolkit “Achieving more with less: A new way of rice cultivation” to illustrate knowledge and techniques on SRI. The toolkit was developed from an experience with SRI in the Philippines in 2007, where farmers piloted the approach within their specific socio-environmental conditions, with very encouraging results in terms of yields and water savings.
  • 30 - 31
    Enough is enough / Nourishing the world sustainably / The roads from Rio / Renewing innovation systems in agriculture and food / Agroecology and the transformation of agri-food systems / Advancing agroforestry on the policy agenda
  • 32 - 33
    More than a recipe to follow, SRI is a set of principles adapted to specific environmental or socio-economic conditions. As “work in progress”, these ideas are the result of trials and experiments carried out at different levels.
  • 34 - 37
    The use of finger millet seedlings has shown very positive results in the region of Tahtai Maichew, near Aksum, Ethiopia, as has the use has the use of alternative management practices for a number of other crops. The principles that make up a System of Crop Intensification are now spreading through the regions of Tigray and South Wollo for a range of crops.
  • 38 - 40
    The System of Rice Intensification was originally developed in Madagascar from the 1960s onwards, with the practices being integrated in the 1980s. Its acceptance has been slow in its country of origin, however today, as in many other countries throughout the world, new initiatives are emerging. More people are promoting SRI, and more farmers are harvesting the results.
  • 41 - 41
    (March 2013) The System of Rice Intensification is a very good example of agro-ecology in action, argues Rik Thijssen.Some thirty years ago, near the town of Nagua in the Dominican Republic, small-scale rice farmers were experimenting with transplanting seedlings.Today, just like back then, farmers are taking the lead.
  • 42 - 44
    Farmers in Bihar were initially sceptical when they heard about the System of Rice Intensification, five years ago. Only one farmer decided to try it. From then, first by word of mouth and now with government support, SRI has gone from strength to strength. In 2012, Bihar had some 335,000 hectares of SRI paddy and had a record rice harvest. One small-scale farmer has broken the world record for rice production, achieving a staggering 22.4 tons/hectare, almost 10 times the previous typical yield in the state.
  • 45 - 45
    Last year, West Africa faced a devastating food crisis, triggered by insufficient and erratic rains. The underlying causes include a systematic depletion of the soils, worsened by climate change. Many families and communities have taken their fate into their own hands.
  • 46 - 47
    Our partner organisations are widely known for the regional editions of this magazine, from AGRIDAPE to LEISA China. Yet there is much more going on, with many different initiatives for disseminating information and exchanging ideas and opinions.
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