SRI-UPDATE #5 - June 2006

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From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #5 (June 2006)

Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,

This is the fifth in the SRI UPDATE series that is being sent out in alternate months. 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. Rainfed adaptation of SRI successful in West Bengal, India
2. Spread of SRI in Myanmar through Farmer Field Schools
3. SRI in Senegal -Report in Rodale magazine
4. FAO introduces SRI acitivites in West Africa
5. SRI launch in Zambia
6. Funding for SRI use on Ifugao terraces in the Philippines
7. SRI at International Rice Commission meeting in Peru and presentation at the World Bank
8. SRI aricle published in Irrigation Science
9. Planned LEISA Magazine issue - Contributions invited
10. Suggested SRI-hybrid rice evalution



The Indian NGO PRADAN has reported that 163 farmers in Purulia district who practiced SRI in 2005 without irrigation facilities, managing with rainfall only, averaged 7.7 t/ha, compared to their previous unirrigated paddy yield of 2.2 t/ha (see 2005 report). PRADAN's SRI work in Purulia was evaluated in 2004 by a research team from IWMI's India program, after it learned that the number of farmers using SRI in these villages, among the poorest, had gone from 4 to 150 in three seasons' time. The IWMI team documented a 67% increase in economic returns per hectare, with an 8% reduction in labor requirements per hectare [see report at --download paper #20].

This information, along with a report received from northern Myanmar (next item), indicates that SRI concepts and practices can be productively adapted to at least some rainfed environments. This would be especially beneficial for many food-insecure household who are located in upland areas and lack access to irrigation. A contribution from an SRI supporter in Canada will enable PRADAN staff to expand their SRI work in the current season. This gift has been matched by a grant from IWMI's India-Tata program.


Humayun Kabir, who has been advising the Metta Development Foundation’s agricultural development program, has recently completed and defended a PhD thesis for the University of Honolulu. It documented in great detail the results of Metta’s introduction of SRI using farmer field school methodology for extremely poor and marginalized farmers in northern Myanmar since 2001. Kabir followed through 2004 the cohorts of 30 farmer field schools that the program trained in 2001, 2002 and 2003, studying a sample of 10 FFSs each year, covering 612 farmers.

SRI yields on the 30 FFS study-fields averaged 6.4 t/ha compared with farmers’ 2.1 t/ha yield. Because there are no irrigation facilities in the region, all these are rainfed adaptations of SRI concepts and method. Post-graduation, FFS alumni averaged 4.2 t/ha on their own fields. The FFSs trained about one-third of the farmers in the respective villages, but Kabir documents that within 3 years, practically 100% of farmers in each village covered were using improved methods.

Costs of production were greatly reduced. Kabir converted all costs into kg of rice equivalents to get around price fluctuations and unrealistic exchange rates. Before SRI training, farmers expended the equivalent of 868 kg of rice to produce 1 ton (1,000 kg). With SRI methods, this cost fell to just 283 kg per ton produced.

Following up FFS alumni’s practices a year later, Kabir calculated that the increase in yield obtained by adopting better-suited rice varieties added 18% to yield, while doing seed selection to use only better-quality seed gave a 28% increase. The two practices together raised yield by 69%, demonstrating synergy. The use of SRI practices alone raised yield by 142%, and using SRI with the other two improved practices gave a yield increment of 253%, again showing synergistic effects among practices.

Kabir and Norman Uphoff have summarized the thesis findings in an article submitted to an agricultural science journal. Kabir’s thesis itself is available on the SRI home page.


The March issue of Rodale Institute’s on-line magazine The New Farm (International) has a feature article on the introduction of SRI in the Casamance region of Senegal by Peace Corps Volunteer Carrie Miner. The crop has not been harvested yet but it growth has been impressive, and the farmers who have tried the new methods expressed much satisfaction.


A project agreement was signed 16 June between the government of the Netherlands and the FAO for a four-year, $9.5 million project on Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) in seven countries of West Africa. A complementary project with co-financing from the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) is soon to be up and running. These two projects together will support improvement of the major cropping systems in the region using Farmer Field School (FFS) training approaches, with an important water quality monitoring component in collaboration with the Integrated Plant Protection Center of Oregon State University. SRI practices are being integrated into the FFS curriculum for experimentation by an estimated 30,000 rice farmers over the next four years. For more information, contact Dr. William Settle, FAO/AGPP.


Henry Ngimbu’s efforts to get SRI demonstrated in Zambia are coming to fruition. The Esek Farmers Cooperative Society in Solwezi, Northwest Province, has organized a big ‘launch’ ceremony to coincide with the first harvest June 30. (SRI-RICE-L subscribers may remember Henry’s announcement last January of his successful transplanting of SRI seedlings from a nursery established in December 2005.)

Farmers and officials in Northwest Province and guests of honor from Lusaka have been invited. A private gift of $5,000 has been sent by an SRI supporter in Canada to help expand SRI efforts in the region, where the World Food Programme is currently importing rice to meet acute food shortages. Glenn Lines in Madagascar has sent a rotary-hoe prototype for demonstration also.

This SRI is also a rainfed version because there are few irrigation facilities in this region, with acute food shortfalls. There is good annual rainfall, 1000-1400mm, but it is highly seasonal and erratic. Rice yields now range from 0.1-1.0 t/ha, so there is much scope for SRI improvements.


As reported in Update #4, NGO partners in the Philippines have initiated efforts to introduce SRI methods on the age-old Ifugao terraces in northern Luzon, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Our NGO partner, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), and the SRI-Pilipinas network worked with a local NGO, Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces Movement (SITMO), to prepare a proposal for financial support. This was submitted to the Panibagong Paraan competition which is funded by the World Bank, similar to the Nepal Development Marketplace competition which awarded $20,000 to the SRI initiative of Rajendra Uprety in 2005.

The SITMO proposal was one of 59 selected for funding, receiving 1 million pesos ($20,000), to undertake systematic testing, demonstration and spread of SRI in the Ifugao region. Meanwhile, SRI-Pilipinas has begun a national training program with funding from the Philippine Department of Agriculture. Leyte State University through the efforts of Moroy de la Rosa hosted the first provincial SRI training program, for the Eastern Visayas, May 24. Memoranda of agreement have been signed for similar provincial training programs in Bohol and Iloilo.


The FAO secretariat for the International Rice Commission invited Norman Uphoff to attend the 21st meeting of the IRC held in Chiclayo, Peru, May 3-5, as an observer. This gave an opportunity to meet persons responsible for rice policy and production from many countries, particularly Latin America. The IRC, which meets every four years, was first convened in 1948.

The representation of SRI was greatly strengthened by the participation of Emmanuel Ralahy, director of technical services for the Madagascar Ministry of Agriculture. Ralahy was an associate of Fr. Henri de Laulanié 15-20 years ago and has worked with SRI for many years, so he has both experience and confidence in it. He also reflects the current governments support for SRI (see Update #4). The delegates from India and Indonesia both noted in their country reports that SRI is being introduced in their countries.

Uphoff was invited by the FAO secretariat to give a plenary presentation on SRI the second day although not a delegate (see PowerPoint presentation - *caution: 19MB file! ). Also, on May 18, Uphoff made a similar presentation on SRI to a noon seminar at the World Bank organized by its Sustainable Agriculture Systems, Knowledge and Information (SASKI) working group. About 20 Bank staff members from a variety of departments attended, and a very friendly discussion followed the powerpoint slides. The designated discussant, an agronomist with extensive rice experience, had no technical issues to raise regarding SRI, and the concerns expressed mostly dealt with how to disseminate SRI most effectively and cost-effectively.


The Springer journal Irrigation Science has published on-line this month an article “Opportunities for Water-Saving with Higher Yield from the System of Rice Publication,” written by Dr. A. Satyanarayana, former director of research for the Andhra Pradesh agricultural university (ANGRAU in India; Dr. T. M. Thiyagarajan, former dean of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University campus at Killikulam and now director of the rice research station at Tirur, near Chennai; and Norman Uphoff, CIIFAD. The article gives an overview of SRI methods and of results from different countries, with detailed reports on SRI performance in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states of India, where Satyanarayana and Thiyagarajan have provided leadership for SRI evaluation and extension. The paper will be published in hard copy early next year. SRI list-serv subscribers who want to see the article (and do not have a subscription to Irrigation Science) can contact Uphoff for a post-print copy.


The LEISA magazine published by the Center for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (ILEIA) in Amersfoort, Netherlands, is planning to publish toward the end of 2006 an issue on making optimal use of ecological processes, paying special attention to SRI as a case in point. The editors would welcome contributions from member of the SRI network who have data and experience to contribute on this subject. Short abstracts or proposals for contributions can be sent to Rik Thijssen or Karen Hampson who will give feedback on suggested contributions to the planned issue. Additional information and a full call for articles --as well as the latest issue of LEISA Magazine that was published this week-- can be found at the LEISA website.


Roberto Verzola, coordinator of SRI-Pilipinas, has raised an interesting question: How much of the yield gains reported from the use of hybrid rice varieties is attributable to the recommended use of many SRI practices with hybrid seed compared to the changes in genetic potential resulting from hybrid heterosis? That hybrid vigor leads to higher yields than using in-bred lines is not in question. But recommendations for the use of hybrid varieties includes planting young (13-day) seedlings, singly, with wider spacing and reduced water applications, plus making organic soil amendments if possible.

To what extent are these practices recommended when planting hybrid seeds, rather different practices from conventional methods, contributing some or much of the effect seen with hybrids? Perhaps some members of the network can do or get undertaken some controlled trials that compare the yields of hybrid rice when used (a) with SRI practices, and (b) with conventional practices (e.g., 25-day seedlings, close spacing, clumps of 3-4 plants, continuous flooding, etc.). Surely everyone in the global SRI network would be interested to know the results. It would be good if a number of such trials could be conducted so that there are many results to compare.

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