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2011 SCI EVENTS: A National Colloquium on the System of Crop Intensification (SCI), organized by the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), was held in Patna, Bihar State, on March 1, 2011. Subsequently, a September 7, 2011, workshop on Upscaling System of Crop Intensification (SCI) for Achieving Food Security in the farms of Uttarakhand and Bundelkhand was held in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. The state-level workshop was organized by the People's Science Institute, which has been one of the pioneers in the "spill over effect" of SRI into other crops like wheat, vegetables, maize, finger millets, soybeans and kidney beans.

System of Crop Intensification (SCI) Overview

Farmers and professionals working with SRI concepts and methods in a number of countries have begun to extend the ideas and insights gained from SRI experience to a variety of other crops. Sometimes they use terms like System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) or System of Teff Intensification (STI or Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI), but these all belong to what is a kind of emerging ‘SRI family’ of practices. Learn more these emerging practices in the SRI-Rice monograph SCI - The System of Crop Intensification: Agroecological innovations for improving agricultural production, food security, and resilience to climate change.

Because this development has been very spontaneous and widely dispersed, the information on practices is not always complete and results are not reported in standardized formats. This makes them more suggestive than conclusive. By now, there is enough evidence, however, coming in from various sources and on many different crops, so that a special section is being added to the SRI website to facilitate access to these innovations and to encourage more experimentation and evaluation.

A general term – System of Crop Intensification (SCI) – has emerged to apply to this next generation of agroecological innovation. The term usually refers to upland/unirrigated crop production, where the principles and methods from SRI are adapted and utilized to raise the productivity of land, labor, water and nutrients when cultivating other crops. Like SRI, SCI emphasizes growing bigger, healthier root systems, and enhancement of soil fertility through promotion of soil biota (the life in the soil).

An example of the phenotypic differences with SCI methods can be seen in the representative finger millet (ragi) plants grown by farmers in Jharkhand state of India with advice from staff of the NGO known as PRADAN.

Finger millet comparison with SFMI -Jharkhand, India

This picture shows how much effect can be achieved with finger millet by changing farmers’ management practices. With this crop, such changes can have more effects than making genetic improvements. (Click on photo to enlarge)

We are interested in the results from specific practices rather than in terminology, so we use here the terms that colleagues are using, establishing pages for the respective crops. We hope that reports on experiences of using SRI concepts and methods with these and any other crops -- whether positive, negative or inconclusive – will be reported for posting. We would like this body of knowledge and adapted practices to be quickly built up for the benefit of farmers and consumers and the environment around the world.

The conclusion, based on information received from colleagues around the world thus far, is not that farmers everywhere should go out and entirely change their practices for these different crops. Rather, the information posted here should encourage farmers and researchers alike to begin experimenting with new sets of practices, prompting them to rethinking current management systems on the basis of SRI (and now SCI) experience. There may be significant unexploited productive potentials in many crops. These potentials appear to be available at little or no cost, even possibly with some cost savings.

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