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Overview of SRI in Bhutan

In 2006, Bhutan became the 28th country to report SRI benefits after Karma Lhendup, then with the Sherubtse College in eastern Bhutan, showed yield increases in a set of replicated trials of SRI methods at three locations in Kanglung district. These early trials did not incorporate organic matter or include soil aeration. More complete trials led by Lhendup together with the College of Natural Resources of the Royal University of Bhutan and by Mahesh Ghimire at the Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre at Bajo continued during 2007 and 2008 (see CNR report and RNRRC report). Results showed a yield improvement with SRI accompanied by lower requirements for seeds and water; reduced crop cycle (by as much as 15 days), and reduced infestation by Potamogeton distinctus, a weed that badly affects rice crops in the region. CNR and RNRRC 2008 trial results were presented at a 2009 SRI workshop along with results from four districts where SRI methods were tried by Department of Agriculture staff. The MOA and DOA officials present gave full support to 2009 trials and planned a similar review at the end of the year to consider expanded experience and to plan for 2010 expansion. Growing interest in SRI in Bhutan led to an SRI study tour by researchers and district agricultural officers to India and Nepal in October 2009 (see report with recommendations and action plans).

SRI experimental successes, including those at higher altitude, are detailed in 2009 Journal of Renewable Natural Resources - Bhutan articles on performance of four varieties under SRI at Lobesa and IR64 results in Wandgue and Punakha, with IR64 yields averaging 10.1 t/ha. On the farmer's field at Sopsokhe in which IR64 was used with both SRI methods and farmer practice, the SRI yield was 9.6 t/ha (40% higher) compared to 6.6 t/ha with usual methods. During 2009, extension efforts in Deorali Geog have produced encouraging results with farmer yields well above the national average of 3.5 tons/ha. Ngawang Chhogyel, Senior Research Officer and Coordinator Department of Agriculture's National Rice Program in Bhutan, presented a poster on SRI at the 4th International Rice Congress in Thailand (2014) that detailed 2010-2013 SRI experiments showing an average grain yield ranging from 4 -7 t/ha.

Though Bhutan is only 50% self-sufficient in rice, it is the most important and preferred cereal of the there. In a 2013 article about Bhutan's plans to go 100% organic, Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests, says that the government has been experimenting with SRI since it has been shown elsewhere to increase crop yields with no synthetic chemicals. The Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI), a community-based organization is committed to contribute towards the national vision of going fully organic, decided to focus on organic rice production.  During 2014, the SJI initiated SRI projects in Phuntshothang, Pemmathang and Langchephu Gewogs. A higher yield was obtained in Langchenphu with SRI and a 28% increase was recorded in Pemathang. In 2016, SJI added a pilot in Rekhay village in Dewathang Gewog. After initial success, 11 farmers were trained in 2017, and in 2019, the number of SRI farmers became 23 --over half of the farmers living there. Rekhay village has become a model for SRI and organic rice production in Samdrup Jongkhar, with 60% yield increases under SRI. Building on SJI’s successful implementation of the SRI project at Rekhay village, SJI farmers trained members of the Marangdut Farmers’ Group in Pangbang, who also learned to prepare and apply bio-pesticides and organic liquid fertilizer. And, after eighteen years, Menchari village is finally reviving paddy cultivation with the initiative of the youth group and a lead farmer in the community, beginning with a one-acre SRI project that will be up scaled from next year with a necessary support from relevant agencies. This is expected to increase in their food self-sufficiency and reduce import of chemical-laden rice from India. It is also in accordance with the government’s target of enhancing rice sufficiency by 15% during the 12th five year plan.

Progress and Activities

2019 Updates
2013 Updates
For 2005-2009 activities, see Bhutan Activity Archives

Reports and Articles

Research and Evaluations

Practical Information


PowerPoint Presentations

(Notes: Click here to see all SRI Bhutan presentations on Transcripts are at the bottom of each presentation. There is a "full screen" button at the lower right corner of the presentation to enlarge the presentation. To use the slideshow feature, make sure you have Flash installed and JavaScript enabled.)

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