SRI-UPDATE #12 - July 2007

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From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #12 (July 4, 2007)

Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,

The following material is part of the SRI UPDATE series being sent out occasionally throughout the year. Enhanced versions of these e-updates (with expanded links) and archives are available on the SRI website along with information on how to subscribe 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. More information is then given below, and full reports or pictures can be accessed from the SRI home page ( To subscribe to the interactive SRI discussion list, instead of this announcement-only list, see

-Norman Uphoff
for the CIIFAD SRI Group

1. SRI Benefits Documented in Vietnam for Government Support
2. Spread of SRI in Tripura State of India Reported
3. SRI Introduced in Zimbabwe with Assistance from Zambia
4. Intercropping of Legumes with SRI Evaluated in Thailand
5. Article on SRI in Northern Myanmar Accepted for Publication
6. Grant Supports SRI Marketing Effort in Cambodia
7. Scientific Knowledge about Root Function and Activity in SRI
8. Other Recent Articles Published on SRI


The National Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program in Vietnam has conducted evaluations of SRI methods since 2003, expanding the evaluations from 3 provinces that year to 17 provinces by 2006. Its report summarizing what was learned from these trials is posted on the SRI home page. Of particular interest is documentation of 40-80% reductions in the incidence of major rice pests and diseases.

On the basis of this report, the Science and Technology Council of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development accepted the IPM Program's recommendation that SRI be recognized as a "technological advance" for rice production under Vietnamese conditions. This endorsement means that provincial governments will be able to access government funding to support the extension of SRI use and that research institutions in Vietnam will be able to get support for further SRI studies.

SRI dissemination has been integrated into the IPM Program's Farmer Field School activities, and Thai Nguyen University has been extending SRI practices through its Center for Scientific and Technical Transfer for Development of the Northern Mountainous Areas of Vietnam. The Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) invited Norman Uphoff to visit the country to strengthen collaboration on SRI, which he will do in July. The VAAS is organizing a national workshop on SRI to be held at the Food Crops Research Institute on July 11. Abha Mishra from Thailand will also participate in the workshop, sharing results from her work on SRI in Thailand and Cambodia.

A delegation with representatives from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the Indian Council for Agricultural Research's Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), the Andhra Pradesh state agricultural university (ANGRAU), Xavier Institute of Management, and the NGO WASSAN visited the state of Tripura April 22-24 to assess progress with SRI methods there (see trip report).

The team found that in some areas, whole villages have adopted the new methods, with 30-50 hectares of contiguous SRI cultivation. About 14,000 hectares are now under SRI, with the state target for 2007-08 being 30,000 hectares (>15% of total paddy area). SRI methods have been adding about 2 t/ha across all districts and with varieties that range from local to hybrid. The Tripura government has agreed to host the 2nd national SRI symposium for India, being planned for October 3-5 at Agartala, the state capital.

The Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), an NGO based in Bulawayo with membership encompassing about 500,000 rural residents in southern Zimbabwe, held a two-day workshop on "Innovative Approaches to Food Security," June 11-12, for its own staff and other NGOs in the region, with SRI as the featured innovation. Norman Uphoff from CIIFAD and Henry Ngimbu, advisor to the Esek Farmers' Cooperative Society in Solwezi, Zambia, served as resource persons. Ngimbu's success in introducing SRI in Zambia was reported in Update #6.

Some workshop participants plan to try out SRI methods in their respective areas, but since rice is not widely-grown in Zimbabwe, most interest was expressed in how SRI concepts and methods can be extrapolated to other crops, particularly rainfed ones. Farmers and NGO partners in India have been extending SRI strategy particularly to finger millet (ragi; Eleusine coracana) with results similar to those with rice. Given the extent of food insecurity in Zambia and Zimbabwe, our new partners there are keen to work with the insights generated from SRI.

A research team from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) working with farmers in Roi-Et Province of northeast Thailand and with the NGO Thai Education Foundation, under a small grant (No. 504) from the CGIAR's Challenge Program on Water and Food, has issued an interim report. This validates the benefits of young seedlings and reduced water application to paddies, but what is most novel is its experimentation with intercropping, using legumes to smother weeds, lower soil temperature (which benefits soil organisms), conserve moisture, and enhance soil nutrients. In  the first set of trials, mung bean was the most favorable legume to use,  enhancing SRI paddy yield by 13.6% while reducing labor requirements for weeding, while also producing a mung bean harvest of 849 kg/ha.

An article based on four years of research by Humayun Kabir for a Ph.D. thesis has been accepted for publication by the journal Experimental Agriculture in October 2007 (43:4). Written with one of his thesis advisors, Norman Uphoff, this article documents the results for 612 farmers from three cohorts of Farmer Field School participants who practiced a rainfed version of SRI, trained through FFSs that Kabir helped set up and assist as advisor for Metta Development Foundation.

Average SRI yield from 30 FFS demonstration fields was 6.4 t/ha (7.1 t/ha in the third year), compared with farmers' average yield of 2.1 t/ha in the region. On their own fields, even without using all the practices, FFS participants averaged 4.1 t/ha. The four-year period of evaluation enabled Kabir to track the diffusion and uptake of SRI methods, so that after one-third of the farmers in a village were trained the first year, by the fourth year, practically 100% were using improved practices without further external intervention. The Metta program begun in 2001 has led to probably 30,000 farmers using SRI methods by 2006. The thesis is available on-line:

A proposal submitted jointly by CIIFAD and the Cambodian NGO, CEDAC (Centre for Study and Development of Cambodian Agriculture) to the science and technology program of the U.S. Department of State has been accepted with funding of $98,000 to support the domestic marketing system, and potential export capacity, of farmer associations working with CEDAC to produce organically-grown SRI. Oxfam America is already assisting CEDAC in operating a retail store in Phnom Penh which sells organic SRI rice and other products. Learning the skills and having physical capacity to procure and monitor the quality of rice that can command a premium price for farmers is a challenge. CEDAC's experience in this kind of undertaking should benefit SRI partners in other countries.

Already in Indonesia, an NGO named Aliksa has begun providing training to farmers on the production of organic rice that can meet high market standards. In the first year, 'organik SRI' got a 60% premium. Currently 'organik SRI' is selling for about double the prevailing market price for rice. A CIIFAD proposal to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support a program for international marketing of SRI rice, in cooperation with Lotus Foods Company of San Francisco, which was successful through two rounds of screening and a finalist for funding, was unfortunately not accepted for funding. But Lotus Foods has found considerable private-investor interest in SRI market development, so this initiative will be continuing.

The International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (4:3, 2006) has published an article which reviews relevant scientific literature for understanding how SRI practices, by affecting root growth and performance, contribute to higher yield and productivity. The lead author, Abha Mishra, who is finishing a Ph.D. program at AIT in Bangkok, has both conducted greenhouse trials at the university and worked with farmer field schools in Cambodia to carry out in-field experiments with farmer participation. She was joined in writing the article entitled "The System of Rice Intensification: A challenge for science and an opportunity for farmer empowerment towards sustainable agriculture" by Max Whitten (formerly ACIAR), Jan Willem Ketelaar (FAO IPM Program), and V. M. Salokhe (AIT).

S.K. Sinha and J. Talati, "Impact of System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Results of a study in Purulia District, West Bengal, India,"Agricultural Water Management (87:1, 2007), pp. 55-60, which makes available their study conducted in 2004 and reported in an International Water Management Institute monograph in 2005.

R. E. Namara, I. Hussain, D. Bossio and S. Verma, "Innovative land and water management approaches in Asia: Productivity impacts, adoption prospects, and poverty outreach," Drainage and Irrigation (56:2-3, 2007), pp. 335-348, which contains a section on SRI summarizing IWMI and other evaluations of this methodology.

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