In 2006, Bhutan became the 28th country to report SRI benefits after Karma Lhendup, then with the Sherubtse College in western 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 less requirement 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.
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. In 2014-2015, a project in Pemathang, Samdrup Jongkhar, funded by the Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative and carried out together with the agriculture extension office in Samdrupcholingan, indicated that SRI plots produced about 2807.9 kg of paddy from an acre of land, while the normal method yielded 2,025 kg. With these positive results, local officials are encouraging more farmers to adopt and scale up SRI methods in order to maximize use of small land holdings.
- Farmers Successful in Raising Yields with SRI in
[March 16, 2015] Yangchen Rinzin reported on successful SRI efforts that began during June 2014 with a training by agriculture officials in the village of Pemathang in Samdrup Jongka, Bhutan. According to the article in Kuensel, the farmers have no regrets now as "they are reaping the benefits of the change." Sangay Wangdi, a farmer who tried the new SRI methods on his 30-decimal land, produced 2,250 kg of rice as opposed to the his usual 1,500 kg. While farmers are happy with the yield, some are concerned about the increase in labor requirements and others are worried about pests if agricultural chemical are not used. The dzongkhag’s agriculture extension officer Wangchuk explained that SRI methods would intensify rice production, while using fewer, younger, rice seedlings transplanted singly with 25 X 25cm spacing at 8 days old as opposed to 45+ days like in normal cultivation. He also noted that one kilogram of seeds would then be required rather than the 10 kg they use normally, but that each plant would produce more tillers. Wangchuk's project data indicated that SRI plots produced about 2807.9 kg of paddy from an acre of land, while the normal method produced 2,025 kg. With these positive results, he is encouraging more farmers to adopt SRI and scale up its use in order to maximize use of small land holdings. During March 2015, a follow-up project was considered to introduce simple weeders designed in India, though no firm plans have yet emerged.
An article from 2014 outlined the beginning of the project in Pemathang, which was funded by the Sandrup Jongkhar Initiative and carried out together with the agriculture extension office in Samdrupcholing in order to encourage organic farming. Among SRI's other advantages, Wangchuk noted that SRI methods require less water. While the normal paddy fields require continuous water supply or an irrigation channel, he added that SRI just needs enough water to keep the land moist, which will be useful at a time when farmers are often faced with water shortage and erratic rainfall. Farmers have made small outlets in the field to draw excessive water in case of heavy rain. The original plans called for the rice to be sold to the Food and Corporation of Bhutan.
- Presentation on SRI in Bhutan at the 4th International Rice Congress in Thailand
[November 10, 2014] Ngawang Chhogyel, Senior Research Officer and Coordinator Department of Agriculture's National Rice Program in Bhutan presented a poster at the 4th International Rice Congress, which was held October 27-31, 2014, at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Thailand. The poster, Application of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) principles in sustainable rice production in Bhutan, was prepared by Chhogyel together with Mahesh Ghimirey and Yadunath Bajgai. It details the 2010 to 2013 SRI experiments that showed that an average grain yield ranging from 4 -7 t/ha with about 22 numbers of effective tillers per hill. Similarly, the result from the 2013 experiment which used 10-15 day-old seedlings gave an average grain yield of 5 t/ha. Though the effects of seedling age on grain yield was not significantly different, the values of root-shoot ratio were significantly affected and younger seedlings exhibited higher values of root-shoot ratio (0.174 - 0.198). The numbers of productive tillers were also higher for younger seedlings. Increased tillering and higher root-shoot ratio indicated higher yield potential under minimum water and proper nutrient management. Also of note was a gradual decrease in grain yield with increasing seedling ages. Higher root shoot ratio under SRI condition has been attributed to improved soil aeration supporting growth and multiplication of soil organisms that provide multiple benefits to the plants.
The poster (right) concludes that SRI could fit well for a small country like Bhutan, which is characterized by small land holdings and an abundance of vegetation cover for organic matter supply. The authors feel that it is possible to raise the current yield ceiling of 3.2 t/ha in Bhutan by adopting some principles of SRI such as planting younger seedlings and integrated nutrient and water management. In addition, SRI principles offer opportunities to cope up with emerging climate change issues and enhance water use efficiency, which could help resource-limited farmers who face water shortage, loss of soil quality and an increasing costs of fertilizer. SRI's ability to increase plants’ resilience to stresses such as drought can also lessen the penalty on grain yield.
- Bhutan to Go Organic - SRI Has a Role to Play
A February 11 article in the Guardian's PovertyMatters blog discusses Bhutan's plans to become the first country in the world to have 100% organic agriculture; sale of pesticides and herbicides will be banned and animal and green manure will be used for fertilizing crops. Although farmers will be expected to grow more for themselves as well as for export to India, China and other countries, the Government does not believe that shifting to organic agriculture will reduce production. Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests, said that the decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical: Most farmers are already organic anyway and the government wants to protect the environment, which is in line with Buddhist thinking. Like most members of the cabinet, he is a farmer himself and has studied western farming methods in New Zealand and Switzerland. He concedes that going organic will take time and there is no set no deadline. He added, "Bhutan's future depends largely on how it responds to interlinked development challenges like climate change, and food and energy security."
As rice has become increasingly popular in the Himalayan country of 1.2 million, Bhutan currently imports it. Hence, SRI (called "Sustainable Root Intensification" instead of System of Rice Intensification in the article) which has shown that organic crop yields can be doubled with no synthetic chemicals, is being studied. "We are experimenting with different methods of growing crops like SRI, but we are also going to increase the amount of irrigated land and use traditional varieties of crops which do not require inputs and have pest resistance," says Gyamtsho.
- Successful Trials during
2009 in Deorali Geog
Thirty-two farmers participated in SRI training in 2008 in Deorali Geog. In collaboration with the interested farmers, SRI trials were set up in 2009 at Balabas, a 30-minute journey by vehicle from the Dungkhag Administration. The site lies at an altitude about 450m above the sea level and receives heavy rainfall during summer seasons. Eight-day old seedlings grown on a nursery prepared with the "solarization technique" were planted singly at spacings of 25cm x 25cm, 30cm x 30cm, random, and the more closely-spaced conventional distance. (Solarization is a technique for treating the nursery bed with the sun’s heat to eliminate harmful organisms such as nematodes and also weed seeds which may cause diseases or competition for the young seedlings.) As noted in the report, SRI plots also included farmyard manure, alternate wetting and drying and two weedings (though more were planned). SRI plots had substantially higher rates of tillering and yield compared with the random and conventional plots. The highest yield was 10 tons/ha for the 30cmx30cm spacing compared with 3.5 tons/ha for the conventional system (see report for details).
With the success of SRI during 2009, more farmers of the geog are interested to adopt SRI techniques in the next planting season. Farmers have pointed out that besides increasing their yield, this technique was found to be useful in saving resources like labor, water and seed.
- SRI Study Tour to India and Nepal
The Ministry of Agriculture, Royal Government of Bhutan, is increasing support for promoting System of Rice Intensification (SRI) practices to improve rice production and yield. In conjunction with these efforts, a seven-member team consisting of four district agricultural officers, two agricultural scientists from Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre (RNRRC) and Karma Lhendup, Royal University of Bhutan, embarked on an SRI study tour (October 11-19, 2009) tour to Tripura and Meghalaya States in India and Morang District in Nepal. Some of the trip highlights are summarized in a short video clip. Key recommendations on transplanting, spacing and water and nutrient management as well as action plans based on the trip findings can be found in Karma Lhendup's report.
- Two 2009 SRI Articles Published in the Journal of Renewable Natural
Resources - Bhutan
A June 2009 journal article shows yields of three improved varieties and one local variety were higher using SRI methods than those using conventional rice production practices in 2008 experiments conducted by Karma Lhendup and his colleagues at several sites in Lobesa. IR64 showed the highest yield performance (10.1t/ha) followed by Nyabja and Bajo Maap (9.7 t/ha each). Input cost for seed, fertilizer and water were also reduced with the SRI experiments. A second article in the June 2009 edition of the Journal of Renewable Natural Resources expands on IR64 trials in Wandgue and Punakha. (These results are also covered in earlier reports provided by Karma Lhendup below).
- Workshop Reviews SRI Experience in Bhutan and Plans for 2009
A workshop organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agriculture May 12, 2009, concluded that SRI results from the first three years warrant expanded evaluation and demonstration. The 2008 results from the College of Natural Resources of the Royal University of Bhutan (CNR report) and the Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre at Bajo (RNRRC report) were presented, along with reports from four districts where SRI methods were tried by Department staff during 2008. Average SRI yields were higher than those obtained from improved on-station methods and traditional farmers practices. SRI methods also used less seed and water, resulted in a shorter crop cycle (by as much as 15 days), and resulted in a reduction in infestation by the weed "shochum" (Potamogeton distinctus) that badly affects rice crops in many parts of the country. 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.
- 2008 SRI Evaluation
Results from CNR and RNRRC Completed
The two reports noted above were received early in 2009: 1) The final report on the trials done during 2008 on the experiment farm of the College of Natural Resources of the Royal University of Bhutan at Lobese and on a nearby farmer's field and 2) results from the Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre on its trials at nearby Bajo in 2008. Both reports indicated productivity gains with SRI methods, and show more benefit from SRI practices in this third year of SRI evaluations than in the first or second year.
The CNR's replicated trials evaluated four varieties, two Bhutanese improved, one IRRI improved, and one local. The average yield with SRI practices was 8.7 t/ha vs. 6.85 t/ha with usual (improved) methods, a 29% average increase. IR64 gave the highest yield with SRI management, 10.1 t/ha from replicated trials. On the farmer's field at Sopsokhe, IR64 was used with both SRI methods and farmer practice. The SRI yield was 40% higher, 9.6 t/ha compared to 6.6 t/ha with usual methods. The photo at left shows the 97 tillers on one plant after harvest. (Click on photo for a larger image).
In the Bajo RNRRC trials (right), at 1300 masl, the SRI average yield with IR64 variety was 8.56 t/ha vs. 7 t/ha with best management practices. One plot was measured as 9.18 t/ha. Here too, as at the CNR, this third year of trials gave better results than the Centre's trials the first two years.
- Article in Journal of Renewable Natural Resources - Bhutan
Highlights SRI Gains at higher altitudes
An article by Karma Lhendup and his colleagues at Sherubtse College, "Yield Response of Rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Management at Kanglung, Bhutan," was published in the August 2008 edition of the Journal of Renewable Natural Resources - Bhutan. Results showed higher mean SRI yields of 4.2-6.0 ton/ha (depending upon the cultivar) in comparison to the national average of 2.9 ton/ha. The SRI trials, which also resulted in 78% seed saving, were conducted in three locations (both on-farm and on-station) at 1600-2000 masl.
- Evaluations Continuing in College of Natural Resources
Karma Lhendup, lecturer in the faculty of agriculture of the Royal University of Bhutan's College of Natural Resources at Lobesa in western Bhutan, has reported on a second season of evaluations in 2007. With replicated trials, the advantage of SRI methods have been seen for a second year, although the increased in yield are not as high as in many other countries, possibly because of soil or climatic conditions. The reduction in input requirements has been of particular interest to farmers who have come to field days organized by Lhendup. Mamta Chhetri, research officer at the nearby agricultural research station at Yusipang, has done some initial trials in 2007 at Khachadrapchu, although not of all SRI methods. The value of younger seedlings was seen to be significant.
In 2008, trials expanded with attention among other things given to whether SRI methods of non-flooded water management can curb the shocum weed (Potamogeton distinctus) that is making rice production difficult. An illustrated, two-page field manual for extension workers (in English) has been prepared by Lhendup for introducing SRI in other parts of Bhutan. This could be used with appropriate pictures and modifications of text in other countries.
For 2005-2006 activities, see Bhutan Activity Archives
- SRI Planning Workshop
Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre, Bajo, Bhutan
May 12, 2009
- Field Day on the System of Rice Intensification
(SRI): A New Method of Rice Cultivation Technique
October 26, 2006
- Rinzin, Yangchen C. 2015. System works, but farmers still skeptical. Kuensel Online, March 16. [Villagers of Pemathang in Samdrupjongkar gets much higher yield with SRI, but wonder about labor.]
- Rinzin, Yangchen C. 2014. A new method of cultivating rice. Kuensel Online, September 2.
- Vidal, John and Annie Kelley. 2013. Bhutan set to plough lone furrow as world's first wholly organic country. PovertyMatters blog (The Guardian). February 11.
- Lhendup, Karma and M. Ghimiray. 2010. An organic approach to increase rice yield in Bhutan. Bhutan Observer. October 6.
- Lhendup, Karma, U. Wangchuk, J. Wangchuk, T.R. Bhandari and S. Chopel. 2009. Performance of rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) at CNR, Lobesa. Journal of Renewable Natural Resources Bhutan. 5(1):15-24. [Available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Lhendup, Karma, M. Ghimiray and S. Tshewang. 2009. Yield performance of IR64 variety using System of Rice Intensification. Journal of Renewable Natural Resources - Bhutan. 5(1):138-143. [Available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Lhendup, Karma. 2009. Report on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Trials at Lobesa and Sopsokha, Bhutan - 2008 Season, Faculty of Agriculture, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan. System of Rice Intensification website. (6p., 9.45MB pdf)
- Ghimiray, Mahesh, and K. Lhendup. 2009 (December). SRI: An innovative way to grow rice. RC-Bajo Muensel 3(2009):11-12. (2p., 276KB pdf). [Journal article from Bhutan available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Ghimire, Mahesh, and S. Thinley. 2009. Report on System of Rice Intensification Evaluations at RNRRC Bajo, Bhutan – 2008 Season. Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre, Bajo, Bhutan. System of Rice Intensification website. (6p., 1.27MB pdf)
- Lhendup, Karma, U. Tshering, J. Dorji and S. Phuntsbo. 2008. Yield response of rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) management at Kanglung, Bhutan. Journal of Renewable Natural Resources Bhutan. 4(1):37–47 [Available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Lhendup, Karma. 2008 (December). Promotion of SRI method through CNR trainees. Annual Magazine. Vol. 16:26-27. College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa. System of Rice Intensification website. (2p., 157KB pdf).
- Khawas, Suraj, and T. Tobgay. 2008. More rice from SRI. RC-Bajo Muensel 2(2008):5-6. Bhutan. (248KB pdf). [Article from Bhutan available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Sangay, Tshering. 2008. Experimenting with SRI at RNRRC Bajo. RC-Bajo Muensel 2(2008):15-17. Bhutan. (248KB pdf)
- Lhendup, Karma. 2007 (November). SRI: A corrective method of rice production. Annual Magazine. Vol. 15:23-25. College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa. (3p., 1.68MB pdf). [Article from Bhutan available on the System of Rice Intensification website]
- Chhetri, Mamta. 2007. Report on SRI at Khachadrapchu in 2007 Cropping Season. Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan. System of Rice Intensification website. (2p., 30KB)
- Lhendup, Karma. 2007. Report on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Trials at Lobesa, Bhutan --2007 Season. Faculty of Agriculture, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan. System of Rice Intensification website. (6p., 825KB) (For a smaller file, see also 451KB version without pictures)
- Lhendup, Karma. 2006. Ongoing Feasibility Study of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Bhutan. Poster presented at the Second International Rice Congress, October 6-13, in New Delhi, India. [ppt file, 3.12 MB - better resolution if downloaded rather than viewed online]
- Lhendup, Karma. 2006. Report on Participation at RNR Annual Expo (Dec. 19-23, 2006). Sherubtse College. System of Rice Intensification website. 2 p.
- Lhendup, Karma. 2006. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Bhutan: A feasibility study of a new rice farming system with special reference to location specific trials and yield performance of different varieties. System of Rice Intensification website. Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan. 10 p. (825kb; unpublished) (For a smaller file, see also 451KB version without pictures)
- Lhendup, Karma. 2008. System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Method of Rice Cultivation: How to Produce More Rice with Less Inputs. Field Extension Manual. Faculty of agriculture of the Royal University of Bhutan's College of Natural Resources. 2 p. (253KB pdf)
- 2009 (October 13). Bhutan agriculture scientists learn paddy cultivation technique. VideosFromIndia. Tripura, India. 2:05 min. (A seven-member team of agricultural scientists and district agricultural officers from Bhutan experience the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Tripura, India.)
- SRI: 2009
- 2009 PowerPoint presentation by Karma Lhendup Faculty of Agriculture College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa, Bhutan. 15 slides
Experiences in Bhutan
- 2008 PowerPoint presentation by Karma Lhendup Faculty of Agriculture College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa, Bhutan. 29 slides
Disseminating SRI Through Field Visits: Recent Activities on SRI
- 2007 PowerPoint presentation by Karma Lhendup Faculty of Agriculture College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Lobesa, Bhutan. 9 slides
Evaluation of the System of Rice Intensification in Bhutan
- 2007 PowerPoint by Karma Lhendup, CNC, Royal University of Bhutan, Thimpu, presented at the 2nd National SRI Symposium, Agartala, Tripura, India in October 2007. 18 slides.
- Photos by Karma Lhendup and his colleagues in Bhutan can be found in many of the reports listed in the Reports and Articles section of this web page.
- CIIFAD SRI Bhutan Photo Collection
In the summary section at the top of the page, the Bhutan Photo Collection is running as a slide show. If you do not have Flash installed, click here to see individual photos which are made available on our Picasa site.