2007 NEWS AND LATEST RESOURCES
News from other years:
- Nine Seasons of Results Reported from Indonesia
- Iraq is 27th Country to Report SRI Benefits with Adaptations
- Bhutan is 28th Country to Document SRI Performance
- Proposal Submitted to Gates Foundation to Expand Marketing
- Report on SRI Performance at 2300 Meters in Nepal
- Nutritional Values of SRI Rice Being Assessed - More Needed
- SRI Considered in the Context of Genetic Modification Debate
- Articles Invited for Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
- SRI Mentioned by Indian Water Resources Minister for Inclusion in New Water Management Schemes
- Tamil Nadu Project in India Plans for 250,000 ha under SRI
- Direct-Seeded SRI Permits 40% reduction in Labor Requirements
- Special Issue of LEISA Magazine Highlights SRI
- SRI Results in The Gambia Reported and Explained
- Monograph Published on SRI Introduction and Spread in India
- Data Reported on Use of SRI Methods with Hybrid Rice in Indonesia
- Bangladesh SRI Network Reports on 2006 Evaluations
NINE SEASONS OF RESULTS REPORTED FROM INDONESIA - AVERAGE YIELD BENEFIT OF 3.3 T/HA FOR >12,000 COMPARISON TRIALS Shuichi Sato, Nippon Koei team leader for the Decentralized Irrigation Systems Improvement Project in Eastern Indonesia, has sent in cumulative results from 9 cropping seasons (2002-2006). The data set includes 12,133 on-farm comparisons covering a total SRI area of 9,429 ha in Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi provinces where DISIMP operates.
Average SRI paddy yields for this period within the DISIMP service area were 7.61 t/ha, compared to 4.27 t/ha using standard practices. The average SRI increase of 3.3 t/ha represents a 78% average increase. Average dry season SRI yields were 7.77 t/ha vs. 4.57 t/ha (total SRI area: 4,313.7 t/ha with 5,423 farmers); wet season SRI yields were 7.43 t/ha vs. 4.04 t/ha (5,059.1 ha under SRI, with 6,577 farmers managing them).
The total paddy production increase attributable to SRI methods 2002-2006 was 30,931 tons (3.3 t/ha x 9,373 ha). At $120/ton, this represents an addition of $3.7 million to farmers' income. Since farmers' costs of production are reduced with SRI (by an average of 25%), this is all net income, and farmers' net benefit from SRI was considerably more. See calculation of cost reduction in a 2006 paper, which reporting that the increased yield was achieved with a 50% reduction in fertilizer use.
IRAQ IS 27TH COUNTRY TO REPORT SRI BENEFITS WITH ADAPTATIONS Dr. Khidir Hameed at Al-Mishkhab Rice Research Station near Najaf in S. Iraq has reported on SRI adaptation studied in 2006. Because labor scarcity makes transplanting difficult in this country, a "parachute planting method" has been introduced, throwing young seedlings onto a shallow-puddled field, where they establish themselves without being pushed into the soil.
The average yield increase across all trials was only slightly positive, but this included trials where yields were constrained by improper nursery management, lack of water control, and high water salinity. Where SRI elements were conjoined effectively, yield increases of 20-26% were achieved with reduction in water requirements, important in this area. SRI concepts have led researchers to pay more attention to use of organic matter, instead of relying entirely on chemical fertilizer, with promising results. Researchers plan to establish committees in all rice-growing provinces of Iraq for further SRI trials and demonstrations in 2007.
BHUTAN IS 28TH COUNTRY TO DOCUMENT SRI PERFORMANCE After conducting replicated trials of SRI methods at three locations in Kanglung district (1800m elevation), Karma Lhendup (Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan) has sent in a report on the results (or without pictures for a smaller file). Only some SRI methods were used in these initial trials -- young seedlings (3-leaf stage), single seedlings, wide spacing (30x30 cm gave better performance than 20x20 cm), and reduced water application (no flooding). There was no evaluation of organic soil fertilization (standard chemical fertilizer applications were made), and no active soil aeration (only hand weeding, not using a rotary hoe).
The average yield increase comparing replicated plot results was 0.65 t/ha, significant at the .05 level of confidence. Profuse increase in tillering was observed, and farmers were impressed with plant growth and cost-saving opportunities (http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/countries/bhutan/bhfieldday1006.pdf). The results have evoked interest in further evaluations and demonstrations in other parts of the country (http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/countries/bhutan/bhrnrexpo06.pdf).
PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO GATES FOUNDATION TO EXPAND MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SRI FARMERS A concept paper prepared by Olivia Vent and Norman Uphoff, submitted last summer to the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation, was one of 47 (out of >1,300 submitted) invited to submit a full proposal. This was submitted January 22, based on cooperation among CIIFAD, acting on behalf of the wider SRI network; Lotus Foods, a company based in San Francisco that imports specialty rices from China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and other countries for sale in US stores; and two SRI farmer-producer networks in Cambodia and Madagascar, assisted by CEDAC and the National Federation of Koloharenas, respectively.
Under the project, Lotus Foods will help SRI partners develop international markets for organically-grown local varieties of rice, starting in the US. It is planned to develop one SRI rice product each from Cambodia and Madagascar, with a third rice product to be developed from a third country based on likely demand for and assurable supply of a popular local variety. CIIFAD will manage several studies to improve "value chains" generally to benefit SRI farmers, while partners strengthen "backwardlinkages" for assured supply and quality that will make SRI adoption more attractive and remunerative for farmers. Knowledge will also be generated and shared among partners to assist them in developing national market opportunities for SRI rice.
Lotus Foods expects to pursue development of SRI product lines whether or not the Gates Foundation funds this project; however, these efforts can be greater, quicker and more systematic if we have this assistance. Already in the area around Bandung, Indonesia, >3,000 SRI farmers are marketing organic SRI rice for a 60% premium in local markets, as consumers are becoming wary of the high use of agrochemicals in rice production there and SRI rice is considered to have superior qualities. This effort is supported by a regional training center of Indonesia's Department of Irrigation (PU), which has been training thousands of farmers in SRI methods since 2005. The Department of Agriculture's Directorate of Land Management has recently inaugurated and funded a training program for farmers to produce "organic SRI" in 39 districts across 14 provinces across Indonesia.
REPORT ON SRI PERFORMANCE AT 2300 METERS ELEVATION IN NEPAL Chris Evans, who helped get SRI started in Nepal in 2001, has sent the most recent issue of the Himalayan Permaculture Group's "Newsletter and Progress Report" for June-December 2006. This contains a report from work of the Permaculture Group in Humla region in the Far West of Nepal.
A farmer-cooperator Manjit Tanata planted two plots of SRI riceon his farm at 2300 m elevation, it reports. After one month, he became anxious about the slow growth of the SRI plants, so he replanted one of the plots with conventional methods. However, Manjit found that his SRI plot eventually outperformed the replanted plot and all other rice plots in the area. "[Manjit] says next year he will plant more land using SRI principles and will teach other farmers how to do the same." (p. 4) There also a picture (p. 12) of the SRI rice of Shyam Shrestha, who represented Nepal at the first international SRI conference in Sanya, China in 2002.
NUTRITIONAL VALUES OF SRI RICE BEGINNING TO BE ASSESSED -- MORE EVALUATIONS ARE NEEDED Dr. Madhu Nair in the Soil Survey Laboratory of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research in Bangalore has communicated some preliminary results from nutrition analysis of SRI rice, showing SRI grains having as much as 25% higher nitrogen content, indicative of a higher protein level. These comparisons were done with standardized methods and controls, so more systematic and controlled analyses need to be done before any conclusions are drawn and any claims are made. Nair has asked whether others in the SRI network can undertake their own evaluations of nutritional value of SRI rice: whole grain, husked grain, and/or polished grain.
SRI grains are usually heavier (weight in grams per 1,000 grains) without being evidently larger, indicating higher grain density. This is consistent with the observation that SRI paddy usually gives higher milling outturn, by about 15%, due in part to less grain shattering. Grain size should be measured along with weight, to assess density, in addition to nutritional content. Nutritional analyses should include all relevant minerals. Where SRI has been grown organically, analyses may also assess chemical residues since these levels reflect on the health value of grains.
We would encourage colleagues throughout the SRI network to try to get comparative nutritional analyses done, under as precise and controlled circumstances as possible, and to report them to firstname.lastname@example.org for compiling and reporting of results. We are looking forward to a report later this year from the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, India, planned under the ongoing WWF-sponsored evaluation of SRI in Andhra Pradesh state.
SRI IS CONSIDERED IN THE CONTEXT OF GENETIC MODIFICATION DEBATE An article by Norman Uphoff on SRI, Agroecological alternatives: Capitalising on existing genetic potentials, has been published in a special issue of the JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (Vol. 43, No. 1, January 2007). This is a paper originally prepared for a conference held at Cornell in November 2004 on "Genetic Modification and the Poor."
ARTICLES INVITED FOR JOURNAL OF FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT We have received an email from the editors of this journal (JFAE) inviting submission of articles for publication. All articles to be published must go through the journal's peer-review process and gain acceptance by the editors, but we can expect an objective evaluation. JFAE covers most of SRI's subject areas. If anyone preparing a manuscript would like it reviewed by colleagues in the SRI network for feedback before submission, we will be glad to assist in such internal peer review which should strengthen the article for external review. This offer holds for articles written for submission to any other journals. This is an entirely voluntary process, but even done on an informal basis, it may improve our communication of SRI experience and findings to others.
SRI MENTIONED BY INDIAN WATER RESOURCES MINISTER FOR INCLUSION IN NEW WATER MANAGEMENT SCHEMES According to a recent article in the Hindustan Times about the problematic water situation in parts of India, the country's Water Resources Minister Saif-u-Din Soz "described the prevailing water situation in the country as 'very bad', requiring effective management. The basic idea behind launching the new schemes [described in the article] is to make the latest agricultural techniques available to the farmers. These techniques include the system of rice intensification technology which needed less quantity of seeds and in turn saves water and enhances production."
TAMIL NADU PROJECT IN INDIA PLANS FOR 250,000 HA UNDER SRI The World Bank approved on January 23, 2007, the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization and Water-Bodies Restoration and Management Project. This will rehabilitate and improve >600,000 ha of irrigated land in 63 sub-basins throughout that state. The project design projects an extension of SRI methods to be used on at lest 40% of this area (250,000 ha). SRI is identified in project documents as a "key intermediate outcome indicator" for project implementation and success. Farmers' productivity gains from using SRI methods are part of the economic justification for the project investment.
DIRECT-SEEDED SRI PERMITS 40% REDUCTION IN LABOR REQUIREMENTS Dr. S. Ramasamy at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has provided us the poster (898 kb) which he presented at the 2nd International Rice Congress in New Delhi last October describing experiments in which he achieved most of the phenotypic improvements of SRI with a direct-seeding methodology that cut the number of days of labor required per hectare by 40%.
This method is essentially the same as one developed four years ago by Mr. Ariyaratna Subasinghe in Mahaweli System H in Sri Lanka (see pages 1 and 5 of trip report from 2003). The TNAU trials broadcast germinated seed @ 30 kg/ha (saving all of the labor for nursery management and transplanting) and then weeded with a rotary hoe at 10-12 days after sowing, using row spacings of 20 x 20 cm and 25 x 25 cm, with a little supplementary hand weeding. Yields were better than with drum seeding, which is now being adopted in Tamil Nadu to save transplanting labor time and cost.
Compared with currently recommended SRI methods and conventional rice cultivation methods, the total labor investment was reduced by 40%. The modified SRI plants had better plant establishment, better tillering, greater panicle weight, more filled grains/panicle, and higher grain yield.
SPECIAL ISSUE OF LEISA MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS SRI The December 2006 issue of LEISA: Magazine on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (Vol. 22, No. 4) - devoted to consideration of Ecological Processes at Work -- focused attention on SRI as a prime example of this subject. The issue contains the following articles:
-- "The System of Rice Intensification and its implications for agriculture," by Norman Uphoff -- "SRI takes root in Nepal," by Rajendra Uprety -- "Adapting SRI in Tamil Nadu, India," by T. M. Thiyagarajan, and -- "SRI in context: lessons from the field," by Willem A. Stoop.
There are also some perceptive comments about SRI in the lead-off editorial.
SRI RESULTS IN THE GAMBIA REPORTED AND EXPLAINED Dr. Mustapha Ceesay has published results from his thesis evaluating SRI in The Gambia, co-authored by his thesis advisors (W. S. Reid, E. C. M. Fernandes and N. Uphoff), based on trials 2000-2004 at Sapu Research Station. Three spacings were used for both SRI and conventional methods. Average grain yields were 6.2 vs. 1.8 t/ha, and stover yields were 6.4 vs. 5.0 t/ha. Water efficiency was dramatically increased, with SRI methods producing 0.62 grams of rice per kg of water vs. 0.10 with standard methods. Net return per hectare was $446 vs. $50. The article appears in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (4:1, 2006).
MONOGRAPH PUBLISHED ON SRI INTRODUCTION AND SPREAD IN INDIA An extended study by Dr. C. Shambu Prasad on System of Rice Intensification in India: Innovation History and Institutional Challenges has been published by the WWF project "Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment" and the Xavier Institute of Management in Orissa. The WWF project is based at and carried out in cooperation with ICRISAT in Hyderabad, where Prasad previously conducted research on innovation policy before taking a teaching and research position at XIM. The study traces the multiple actors and relationships that have initiated and accelerated SRI work in India. Prasad has documented his conclusion that "SRI in India is not a single story with a single message, but several stories with interrelated messages."
DATA REPORTED ON USE OF SRI METHODS WITH HYBRID RICE IN INDONESIA Shuichi Sato, Nippon Koei leader of the technical assistance team for the Decentralized Irrigation System Management Improvement Project in Eastern Indonesia, has sent in some data on SRI paddy yield with hybrid rice in Bali, from the second dry season in 2006. 24 farmers in Gianyar district used a Long-ping hybrid rice on 42 hectares, and got an average yield of 13.3 tons/ha, while the same hybrid variety with conventional methods yielded 8.4 tons/ha, a 58% increase attributable to SRI practices.
Most of the highest SRI yields reported so far have come from hybrid varieties, since Prof. Yuan Long-ping, the originator of hybrid rice, began working with SRI methods in 2000. He has been probably the most eminent proponent of SRI since then. At the same time, it is noted that many indigenous or local varieties of rice respond very favorably to SRI methods, with yields in the 6 to 12 t/ha range, so farmers' profitability can actually be greater with these since they command a higher price in the market, given consumer preferences.
SRI is thus "neutral" between hybrid and indigenous varieties. Both benefit from SRI methods, one with highest yield, one with highest economic returns, so farmers should and can make their own decisions. Sato-san's report, from a large area, not a trial plot, and under farmers' field conditions, confirms once more the intrinsic merits of SRI production methods. SRI methods greatly lower the cost of using hybrids since 80-90% less seed is required than with conventional practice. Seed cost has been a major barrier to adoption of hybrids because their seed is much more expensive. SRI thus not only raises hybrid yield but adds to its economic profitability. Sato would be glad to know from others in the SRI network about any data that they have on the results of growing hybrids with SRI method.
BANGLADESH SRI NETWORK REPORTS ON 2006 EVALUATIONS The National SRI Steering Committee in Bangladesh has formed a SRI National Network of Bangladesh (SNNB) with Prof. Muazzam Husain serving as its National Coordinator. In 2006, the Network was involved in SRI trials by Oxfam Great Britain's Bangladesh program under its River Basin Project for resource-poor farmers. The trials found SRI could produce significant benefits under these adverse agroecological conditions. Farmers received 25% higher yields and achieved profitability 78% higher than under farmers' current practice, with reduced seed requirements and other costs. The problems that farmers reported were several, including some cold injury to seedlings, difficulty in irrigation management, and inadequate experience. Oxfam is expanding its trials during this current season based on the favorable results of last season.
ActionAid/Bangladesh also conducted SRI trials last year and has expanded trials during the current winter (boro)season. Out of 300 farmers participating in the trials in 2006, the results of 85 were monitored closely. These documented an average yield increase of 36%, and a large increase in gross margin/ha, from 15,750 taka/ha with regular methods to 38,650 taka/ha with SRI. More details including agronomic parameters are given in the Action Aid report.
A SRI Experience-Sharing National Workshop was held at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) on 11 October 2006, to communicate these and other results to DAE staff and to policy makers, scientists, professionals, and SRI farmers attending. The workshop resolved to further expand SRI trials and demonstrations. DAE officials promised all possible cooperation and suggested that appropriate policy directives be issued by the Ministry of Agriculture for promoting SRI among farmers. The SNNB has started collaborating with the Small-Scale Water Resources Development Sector Project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, to undertake SRI trials in different regions of the country. Though starting late in the season, a few pilot demonstration/trial SRI plots have been initiated.