SRI-UPDATE #9 - February 2007

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From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #9 (February 2007)

Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,

This is the ninth 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

-Norman Uphoff
for CIIFAD SRI Group

1. Tamil Nadu Project in India Plans for 250,000 ha under SRI
2. Direct-Seeded SRI Permits 40% reduction in Labor Requirements
3. Special Issue of LEISA Magazine Highlights SRI
4. SRI Results in The Gambia Reported and Explained
5. Monograph Published on SRI Introduction and Spread in India
6. Data Reported on Use of SRI Methods with Hybrid Rice in Indonesia
7. Bangladesh SRI Network Reports on 2006 Evaluations

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.

Dr. S. Ramasamy at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has provided us the poster 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%. The poster is online at (898 kb).

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.

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.

These can be accessed by downloading the table of contents for this issue using this URL:[readOnly]=0&p[_id]=87898 -- and then clicking on the icon for the respective articles. There are also some perceptive comments about SRI in the lead-off editorial.

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) at

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." The booklet is at two locations: 1) (WASSAN's website) and 2) (ILAC's website).

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 (

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.

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