To: SRI-UPDATE-L@cornell.edu (SRI-UPDATE-L)
From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #18 (August 26, 2008)
Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,
The following material is part of the SRI UPDATE series being sent out occasionally throughout the year. In this issue, you will find updates about the numerous SRI efforts worldwide. Enhanced versions of these e-updates and archives are also available on the SRI website along with information on how to subscribe for other SRI groups in other countries.
The numbered listing of sections provides an overview of this Update, so you can see quickly 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 an interactive SRI discussion list (INSTEAD of this announcement list to which you are currently subscribed), see http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/listservs/index.html#rice.
for CIIFAD SRI Group
1. INDIA: Punjab State Govt. Requests Assistance in Introducing SRI
2. VIETNAM: Rapid Uptake in Ha Tay Province under Oxfam Program
3. INDIA: Introduction of SRI in Himachal Praesh Proceeding Well
4. MADAGASCAR: African SRI Summit Being Planned by Government
5. MALI: Grant to Extend SRI Demonstrations around Timbuktu
6. IRAQ: Ambitious Training Program Underway
7. CUBA: International Rice Meeting in Havana Reviews SRI (SICA)
8. MALAYSIA: SRI Group Formed at National University (UKM)
9. FRANCE: SRI to be Presented to World Economic Forum
10. MEDIA: SRI Being Reported in Print and on Radio
11. World Bank Institute Produces Two DVDs on SRI, Plus Web Postings
12. Planning of Joint Evaluation of SRI has Begun with IRRI and Wageningen
1. INDIA: PUNJAB STATE GOVT. REQUESTS ASSISTANCE IN INTRODUCING SRI
The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) of the Government of India has made SRI demonstration and extension part of its rice sector program, with demonstrations planned in 136 districts across 14 targeted states during 2008, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Directorate of Rice Development. The Chief Minister of Punjab state has asked that his state be included in this program, in part to have support in introducing SRI
Interest in SRI has been spurred by an of SRI in Punjab state by Dr. Amrik Singh
(http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/india/InPunjabRpt07.pdf). For SRI to be introduced with official support in the heartland of the Green Revolution represents a big step for SRI, driven by demands for continued yield increase and for water-saving production. In May, the state Minister of Agriculture inaugurated a two-day training workshop for 200 farmer-leaders from all parts of the state and from neighboring Haryana state.
2. VIETNAM: RAPID UPTAKE IN HA TAY PROVINCE UNDER OXFAM PROGRAM
A joint effort by Oxfam America and the Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is making good progress in this country. A pilot program in Ha Tay province last year introduced SRI methods on 3,000 hectares (as reported in
http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/vietnam/vnntutrrpt0707.pdf). This area has expanded to 33,000 hectares this year, with 95,000 farmers using the methods. (Average farm size is 0.4 ha, so they are using SRI methods on most of their rice area.) SRI is being introduced in additional provinces with the support now also of Oxfam Quebec. See reports on activities in 2007 (http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/vietnam/vnOxfHaTay07.pdf) and 2008 (http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/vietnam/vnOxfamPPD0608.pdf).
3. INDIA: INTRODUCTION OF SRI IN HIMACHAL PRADESH PROCEEDING WELL
The People’s Science Institute (PSI) based in Dehradun and working in the Himalayan foothill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand has achieved one of the most rapid extensions of SRI to date. Starting with just 40 farmers in 2006, there were 597 farmers using the new methods in 2007, a 15-fold increase. This year, there are about 13,000 farmers using SRI, >20-fold increase.
Farmers are getting usually about doubled yield with less inputs, which explains why the methods are fairly easy to promote even in very isolated and poor communities. This up-scaling is support by a grant from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, which has allocated $2.8 million to support SRI initiatives for impoverished areas on northern, eastern and northeastern India over a three-year period.
4. MADAGASCAR: AFRICAN SRI SUMMIT BEING PLANNED BY GOVERNMENT
A planning committee under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture is organizing an event to which delegations from other African countries will be invited to learn first-hand about SRI next March or April (http://www.lexpressmada.com/index.php?p=display&id=18878). Specific plans are still being worked out, but the BetterU Foundation in Los Angeles, CA is providing core financial support, and other organizations like FAO and WWF will be invited to join in the sponsorship and support.
5. MALI: GRANT TO EXTEND SRI DEMONSTRATIONS AROUND TIMBUKTU
The introduction of SRI methods in the Timbuktu region by Africa with good first-year results in 2007 (http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/mali/MaliAfricare200708.pdf) is being extended in 2008 to 60 farmers in 12 villages (5 farmers in each village chosen by their peers) with a grant from the BetterU Foundation, Los Angeles.
Dr. Erika Styger who is leading this initiative on behalf of Africare has set up a blog on this work, maintaining it regularly to give people outside Mali an opportunity to see the progress of the plots and understand how SRI methods are being adapted to a very different and difficult environment on the edge of the Sahara desert. See blog at:
6. IRAQ: AMBITIOUS TRAINING PROGRAM UNDERWAY
Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Khidhir Hameed at the Al-Mishkhab Rice Research Station near Najaf, SRI evaluation and spread are accelerating in this war-torn country. In April and May, SRI training was provided to 1,600 rice-growing farmers in Al-Muthanna province:
Dr. Khidhir has provided pictures of the various activities and results in a set of photos now posted on the web: http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/iraq/IraqPhotos08.html See particularly a picture of comparison trials that is posted at: http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/images/iraqimage/Iraq4Pix2008.pdf
7. CUBA: INTERNATIONAL RICE MEETING IN HAVANA REVIEWS SRI (SICA)
The 4th International Rice Meeting convened in Cuba, June 2-6, featured a round table on experience with SICA, the Spanish acronym for SRI. Presentations were made by Marie-Soleil Turmel, a Canadian PhD candidate doing field research on SRI under different soil conditions from a base with the Smithsonian Institution’s Tropical Research Institute in Panama; Lazaro Maquiera from the National Institute of Agriculture Sciences on SICA evaluations at INCA’s rice research center at Los Palacios; Angel Fernandez on the SICA evaluations he has done in Peru and the prospects for SICA spread there; Juan Riambau, chief agronomist with the producer cooperative (CPA) “Camilo Cienfuegos” in western Cuba which started SICA evaluations in 2001 with much success; Dr. Rena Perez, volunteer coordinator for SICA in Cuba, reporting on extension efforts and results; and Dr. Norman Uphoff, Cornell University, with an international overview on SRI spread and impacts.
A trip report by Uphoff on the meeting and two field visits is available on the SRI Cuba web page: http://ciifad.cornell.edu/sri/countries/cuba/cubatprep0608.pdf
8. MALAYSIA: SRI GROUP FORMED AT NATIONAL UNIVERSITY (UKM)
A multi-disciplinary research group at UKM called SRI-PADI has been formed to evaluate different aspects of SRI under Malaysian conditions, according to a report from Dr. Anizan Isahak. This group includes soil scientists and plant physiologists together with a geneticist, a microbiologist, an environmental scientist, a food scientist, and an engineering geologist. The group plans to invite also mechanical engineers, to help develop appropriate machines and implements for mechanization, and nutritionists, to assess the nutritional value of SRI rice.
The group is seeking research funding and will conduct workshops and conferences on SRI. Faculty of UKM already have good connections with farming communities in rice-growing areas of Malaysia that can facilitate trials and evaluation. Formation of the group follows a visit by Norman Uphoff from Cornell in June 2008, when he met with a number of UKM faculty as well as with the Minister of Agriculture and his advisors; with rice scientists at the Malaysian Agricultural and Rural Development Institute (MARDI); and with a representative of the NGO community interested in sustainable agriculture. The visit was sponsored and supported by a group of Malaysian professionals who are interested in developing training programs for the introduction and spread of SRI methods in Malaysia.
9. FRANCE: SRI TO BE PRESENTED TO WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
At the next World Forum on Responsible Economy, being held in Lille, France, October 9-13, there will be a panel on ‘Sustainable Agriculture: How to produce more and better,’ in which SRI will be a featured subject, spoken to by Edline Ravelonirina, one of the most successful farmers in Madagascar working with Association Tefy Saina, and Norman Uphoff from Cornell.
10. MEDIA: SRI BEING REPORTED IN PRINT AND ON RADIO
The Science section of the NEW YORK TIMES ran a feature story on the spread of SRI and the work of Norman Uphoff on June 17: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/science/17rice.html
This article was reprinted in many papers around the world such as Le Monde, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, El Universo (Guayaquil), Canberra Herald and Deccan Herald, and it was circulated on the web through many list-serves and blogs. So this article had made many persons aware of SRI opportunities. ‘Visits’ to the SRI website have increased substantially.
In May, the Indian weekly magazine BUSINESS OUTLOOK had a special issue on “25 Ideas That Will Change Our World,” writing up the System of Rice Intensification as innovation #3: http://www.outlookbusiness.com/inner.aspx?articleid=1416&subcatgid=693&editionid=39&catgid=78
On July 7, the Voice of America broadcast a radio report on SRI in special English to a worldwide audience, posted at: http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/2008-07-07-voa3.cfm
11. WORLD BANK INSTITUTE PRODUCES TWO DVDS ON SRI, PLUS WEB POSTINGS
Based on observations and interactions in the Philippines and assisted by Mr. Bong Salazar, Administrator of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), who was one of the early SRI farmers in his country, the World Bank Institute has made a training DVD: ‘How-to’ Guide for Farmers and Practitioners Based on an Application in the Philippines (15 minutes) for farmers and extension agents, and a more general overview: Improving Rice Productivity and Achieving Water Savings (12 minutes) for policy and decision-makers. For links to download these videos, go to: http://info.worldbank.org/etools/WBIMM/SSIA/index.htm
There is now an entry on SRI on the World Bank’s website describing SRI in general: http://go.worldbank.org/CY0IP9DYH0 -- and an entry on the website of the World Bank’s South Asia program, drawing on experience in Tamil Nadu: http://go.worldbank.org/EJGPVAPFA0
12. PLANNING OF JOINT EVALUATION OF SRI HAS BEGUN WITH IRRI AND WAGENINGEN
The last week of May, scientists from IRRI and Cornell University were hosted by colleagues at Wageningen University to plan a joint evaluation of SRI. They began preparing a proposal to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a three-year, multi-country assessment. Prof. Herman van Keulen from Wageningen has been chosen as the PI for Wageningen’s involvement in the assessment. Dr. Bas Bouman is the co-PI from IRRI, and Prof. Janice Thies is the Cornell PI, assisted by Prof. John Duxbury, both of them members of Cornell’s Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences. Initial feedback from the Foundation on the concept paper developed in May was positive, although there needs to be some refinement and refocusing of the original scope of work and budget proposed. As this is going to be a very thorough evaluation, which should resolve most if not all of the scientific issues that have fueled ‘the SRI controversy,’ its results would probably not be reported until 2011. In the mean time, SRI initiatives around the world will continue based on empirical results.
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