To: SRI-UPDATE-L@cornell.edu (SRI-UPDATE-L)
From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #8 (December 2006)
Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,
This is the eighth in the SRI UPDATE series that is being sent out 7-8 times per year. Enhanced versions of these e-updates and archives are available on the SRI website. This url also contains information on subscriptions for other SRI groups in other countries.
The numbered listing of sections below provides an overview of the contents of this Update, to let you know what items are included. To subscribe to the interactive SRI discussion list, instead of this announcement-only list, see http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/listservs/index.html#rice.)
for CIIFAD SRI Group
1. 2nd International Rice Congress in New Delhi
2. SRI Network Makes Shortlist for ALCAN Prize, But No Award
3. Cost-and- Timesaving Weeder Design from Nepala>
4. National SRI Symposium is Held in India
5. Iran is the 26th Country to Document SRI Benefits
6. Forum in Laos of CIGIA 'Challenge Program on Water and Food'
7. SRI Work is Gaining Momentum in Pakistan
8. Shortening of Crop Cycle Documented in Nepal
9. Report from Kerala State in India
10. SRI Article in International Rice Commission Newsletter
11. Plans for an International Assessment of SRI Weeders
12. SRI Methods Adapted to Sugarcane and Millet Production
1. 2nd INTERNATIONAL RICE CONGRESS IN NEW DELHI
More attention was given to SRI at this 2nd world congress convened October 9-13 than at the 1st congress held four years ago in Beijing. There were at least 15 posters on SRI evaluation and explanation, most of them contributed by Indian researchers but posters came also from Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand. Norman Uphoff was invited to give a presentation on SRI with regard to its water-saving potentials; and in his invited paper on resource-conserving technologies, Mushtaq Gill from Pakistan gave some prominence to SRI (see #7 below). A get-together of congress participants involved with SRI was organized and hosted by Bhuban Barah, senior economist in the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP). (see report on the Congress prepared by Uphoff focusing on its SRI aspects)
2. SRI NETWORK MAKES SHORTLIST FOR 2006 ALCAN PRIZE, BUT NO AWARD
An application that CIIFAD submitted last March on behalf of the international SRI network for the 2006 ALCAN Prize for Sustainability was one of 10 selected from among >200 applicants for the short list for this prize, which carries an award of $1 million. We have just been notified that the network has not been chosen for this year's award, however. This is a disappointment, but the short-listing has raised the profile of SRI, which is much appreciated. We can reapply next year, providing more evidence from within the SRI network to support the application.
We have just been informed that a CIIFAD pre-proposal has gotten through two rounds of screening by the Gates Foundation's 'value-chain' program, and we are invited to submit a full proposal for supporting market development for organic indigenous varieties grown with SRI methods. Ours was one of 47 proposals selected from among >1300 applications considered.
3. COST- AND TIME-SAVING WEEDER DESIGN FROM NEPAL
A visit to Nepal by Norman Uphoff acquainted him (and now others) with a simple weeder designed by Govinda Dhakal in Morang District, Nepal, which can help farmers deal with weed control problems. During his first year practicing SRI, Govinda had serious weed problems. Instead of giving up, he constructed a weeder out of wood and nails that cost him just 20 cents (U.S.). With this implement, Govinda reports that the labor time needed to weed 1 hectare is reduced from 25-30 person-days for hand weeding, to just 10 days. Govinda's weeder, which resembles a push broom and has no moving parts, is shown on the SRI website's Nepal page. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
4. NATIONAL SRI SYMPOSIUM IS HELD IN INDIA
An all-India meeting on SRI was convened in Hyderabad, November 17-18, at the Andhra Pradesh state agricultural university (ANGRAU) (see invitation for participation). The symposium was supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with co-sponsorship from ANGRAU and the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). In addition to the invited papers, 61 posters were presented, ranging geographically from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Forthcoming proceedings and other reports about the event will soon be noted on the SRI website's reorganized page on "international and national conferences."
5. IRAN IS 26TH COUNTY TO DOCUMENT SRI BENEFITS
Bahman Amiri Larijani, head of the agronomy group at the HARAZ Technology Development and Extension Center in Amol, in the rice-growing province of Mazandaran near the Caspian Sea, has sent in a report on SRI evaluation at his center and on-farm. This was done with a traditional variety (Tarom) that has high-quality grain and a good market price, but generally low yield. Yields on farmers' fields with conventional methods were 3.65 t/ha vs. 6.08 t/ha with SRI. At the Amol research station, 12 different treatments were evaluated with different combinations of plant spacing and fertilizer treatment, together with other SRI methods. Highest yield (7.03 t/ha) was with spacing of 25x25 cm and a combination of chemical fertilizer and chicken manure. Average yield for three spacings (25x25, 30x30 and 40x40 cm) was 5.18 t/ha with chemical fertilizer, 6.12 t/ha with chicken manure, and 6.07 t/ha with a combination of both. (see report).
6. FORUM IN LAOS OF CGIAR 'CHALLENGE PROGRAM ON WATER AND FOOD'
An international forum was held in Vientiane, November 12-16, on land and water management practices that contribute to sustainable food production with reduced water use. SRI was given more attention than originally expected, thanks to initiatives by Abha Mishra and Prabhat Kumar from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and by Rajendra Mishra from Nepal. A team of SRI farmers from northeastern Thailand attended to present their experience with increasing food production while lowering their water requirements (see short report on the Forum with special reference to SRI).
7. SRI WORK IS GAINING MOMENTUM IN PAKISTAN
SRI trials and demonstrations have started up this past season through the efforts of Mushtaq Gill, director-general of the On-Farm Water Management wing of the Punjab Provincial Department of Agriculture, and Muhammad Arshad at the University of Agriculture at Faisalabad, with very good results that should motivate further expansion. A report on these initiatives has been drafted by Norman Uphoff who visited Pakistan after the International Rice Congress in New Delhi to review these initiatives.
8. SHORTENING OF CROP CYCLE DOCUMENTED IN NEPAL
Rajendra Uprety, District Agricultural Development Office for Morang District, showed in a previous report on the 2005 season that a 145-day variety (Bansdhan) ripened 1 week earlier with seedlings 15 days or older, using other SRI practices; 2 weeks earlier with seedlings 10-14 days old, and 3 weeks earlier with seedlings 8-9 days old, all with increased yield.
When Norman Uphoff visited Morang District in early November, many farmers showed him RI crops that are maturing 2-3 weeks earlier than previously, with a few maturing 4 weeks sooner. All were giving yields 50-100% more than usual. This and other information on SRI in Nepal is presented in a report that documents growing acceptance of SRI by government agencies and NGOs as well as by farmers.
9. REPORT FROM KERALA STATE IN INDIA
The NGO known as RASTA (Rural Agency for Social and Technological Advancement) in Wayanad district of Kerala began working with SRI in 2004 (see article in The Hindu from Sept. 2004; for information on RASTA, see http://www.world-citizenship.org/blog/index.php/wp-archive/325). C. K. Vishnudas has sent a report on the situation in Wayanad through 2006. The number of farmers using SRI has grown from 10 to 60, with yield increases of 65-80%, income enhancement of 50-100%, saving of water, and no need for use of agrochemicals.
The State Planning Board for Kerala, in part in response to RASTA's efforts, has now given priority in its new 11th Five-Year Plan to the expansion of SRI use in order to revive rice production in the state. The land area devoted to rice production in Kerala has fallen by more than 50% over the last 40 years because of declining profitability and adverse environmental impacts (see report).
10. SRI ARTICLE IN INTERNATIONAL RICE COMMISSION NEWSLETTER
As a follow-up to the 21st meeting of the International Rice Commission supported by FAO, an article on SRI was invited to publish in the IRC Newsletter, issue No. 55. A URL address will be posted on the SRI home page so that there is easy electronic access to this when it appears.
11. PLANS FOR AN INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF SRI WEEDERS
One of the most often reported constraints on the adoption of SRI, since fields are not kept continuously flooded, is weed control. Many weeder designs and techniques have been developed in countries around the world, appropriate for various conditions and purposes. It would be desirable to do practical evaluations of many alternative weeders and to provide such information to any and all SRI users, or potential users. Recently, a supporter of SRI in Canada has offered financial assistance to evaluate different weeder designs under realistic field conditions.
In 2005, WASSAN, an NGO partner in India which is working on SRI dissemination, conducted an extensive two-day evaluation of weeders used within the state of Andhra Pradesh. WASSAN will cooperate with CIIFAD in conducting systematic assessments of different models, with both men and women farmers doing the evaluations.
Pictures and technical drawings of weeders judged best for different purposes and conditions will be posted on the web for everyone to have access to. The Andhra Pradesh state Department of Agriculture has offered to assist in this effort, e.g., getting duty-free exemption for weeders sent from abroad for assessment. More information on this will be sent out through the SRI network.
12. SRI METHODS ADAPTED TO SUGARCANE AND MILLET PRODUCTION
On Monday, November 27, the Financial Express in India carried an article by B.V. Mahalakshmi entitled: "Afer Rice, Andhra Looks at Sugarcane Cultivation." It begins: After the success of rice cultivation through the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the Andhra Pradesh government -through the Directorate of Sugar - is hoping to expand this practice for cultivation of sugarcane as well.... (See full article)
PRADAN, an NGO operating in many states of India, has been adapting SRI concepts and practices to finger millet (ragi) production, with substantial increases in yield, and without depending on fertilizer applications. We want to encourage farmers and researchers with an interest in such experimentation to conduct their own trials and to send in results, good or bad, so that these can be shared more widely, to encourage more such innovation.
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