SRI-UPDATE #19 - October 7, 2008

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From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #19 (October 7, 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

-Norman Uphoff
for CIIFAD SRI Group

1. MADAGASCAR: SRI is Endorsed in U.N. General Assembly by President
2. INDIA: Paddy Yields Raised by 2 t/ha with SRI in Tamil Nadu State
3. EGYPT AND RWANDA: 31st and 32nd Countries Report SRI Results
4. SENEGAL: SRI Evaluation Proceeding in Cooperation with WARDA
5. INDONESIA: SRI Cooperation with Malaysia, Timor Leste and P.N.G.
6. GUYANA: SRI to be Presented at Centennial Rice Conference
7. RESEARCH FINDING: Growing Rice under Unflooded Conditions Found to Reduce Arsenic and also Increases Other Mineral Uptake

The President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly as part of its debate on the global food crisis, September 23, said: "We are promoting the widespread use of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an eco-friendly and pro-people method developed in Madagascar in the 1980s. SRI promotion is an important part of Madagascar's recently launched 'natural revolution'." This is part of the President's Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) which has adopted the motto: Madagascar naturally. The President's UN speech is available as a video or pdf document in both French and English. (Remarks on SRI can be found at minute 8:00 in the English-narrated video and at the middle of the speech document.)

On Sept. 29-Oct. 2, the MAP secretariat together with the Ministry of Agriculture (MAEP) sponsored a national workshop on supporting integrated development of MAP villages in each region of the country. Two days were devoted to dissemination of SRI knowledge and practice in all 22 regions through government and NGO partnerships. This initiative is being assisted by the Better U Foundation, following actor Jim Carrey's visit to Madagascar at the end of August.

SRI farmers informed workshop participants of the benefits and successes they have achieved with SRI methods, and Norman Uphoff reported on the spread and impacts of SRI in other countries around the world. These reports encouraged regional and local governments to plan tailored strategies for SRI promotion in each region, to take advantage of an opportunity that other countries have benefits from more than Madagascar thus far.

Given the growing government interest and support, plans reported in the previous Update (#18) for an SRI African Summit event in Madagascar next year have been modified. It has proposed that SRI be publicized in connection with the African Union (AU) heads-of-state summit being hosted by the Madagascar government in July 2009 (see press release). This opportunity will provide wider and more assured outreach than a free-standing SRI summit event could.

The Financial Express reports that harvest results from several districts in Tamil Nadu state indicate that average yield in the most recent rice-growing season may have reached 7.5 tons/hectare, compared with the previous highest yield for the state of 5.4 t/ha, a 40% increase (see article). The Ministry of Agriculture, which reported that SRI methods were used on 430,000 hectares in the 2007-08 samba season, has projected SRI use on 750,000 hectares by the end of 2008, out of a total rice-growing area of 2.1 million hectares. Increased yield was attributed primarily to the spread of SRI methods in the state, noting that costs of production were not increased or even lowered with these methods, also reducing water requirements. This result will add to the significance of the 3rd National SRI Symposium being hosted by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, December 1-3, with sponsorship from WWF and a number of major Indian government and non-governmental institutions (see Symposium details). Also available on the SRI-India website is the first edition of the SRI Newsletter spearheaded by the ICRISAT WWF-Project.

Dr. Walid El-Khoby, researcher at the Rice Research and Training Center at Sakha, has reported on trials conducted at his Center which showed SRI yields of 10.7 tons per hectare with inbred improved varieties, and 13.9 tons per hectare with hybrid varieties. Since Egypt's national average yield at 9.5 tons per hectare is the highest in the world, these yield increases are not as great in percentage terms (12.5% and 46%) as in some other countries. However, they were achieved with a 35% reduction in water use and one-third lower costs of production, which makes the results attractive in Egypt. In the next season, researchers at the Center will extend SRI in areas that are constrained by soil salinity, which is a major problem in Egypt, with the expectation that SRI methods can mitigate this constraint.

In August 2008, Dr. El-Khoby and colleagues at Rice Research and Training Center, and their SRI trial plots, were visited by Dr. Mustapha Ceesay, research director of the Gambia's National Agricultural Research Institute, who was attending an international rice conference in Cairo. Ceesay, who has been evaluating SRI in the Gambia since 2000 while still a graduate student at Cornell, shared his considerable experience with SRI practices with Egyptian colleagues. His report from the visit to Sakha is posted together with photos on the new country page for Egypt.

Mei Xie, irrigation specialist in the World Bank Institute, Washington, who supervised the preparation of two DVDs on SRI, reports that when she showed the DVDs at a workshop in Addis Ababa in September, when SRI was challenged, a woman farmer in the Rwanda delegation informed participants that she was herself an SRI farmer. She was introduced to the new methods under an IFAD project, which engaged Association Tefy Saina specialists to provide training in 2005, and she had gotten a yield of 10 tons/hectare. Another farmer obtained 12 t/ha. Details of this will be posted on a new Rwanda page on the SRI website when we get them from IFAD.

Tim Krupnik, PhD candidate in agroecology at University of California, Santa Cruz, is carrying out an evaluation of SRI methods under the auspices of the African Rice Center (WARDA) in cooperation with key Senegalese agricultural research institutions and with FAO. He is evaluating soil, water and pest management practices as well as agronomic productivity, and also assessing socio-economic factor and tradeoffs. There are on-station trials being conducted, including varietal trials, at two locations in the Senegal River Valley, and also on-farm trials in the Podor region. An interim report on the research is now available in English or French on the Senegal country page.

Dr. Iswandi Anas, coordinator for the Indonesian Association for SRI (Ina-SRI), reports that during the summer of 2008, 13 Malaysian officials participated in a training program at IPB, the national agricultural university in Bogor, Indonesia. After learning about SRI, officials from FELCRA, the national Malaysian agency for plantation management which operates 5,000 ha of rice production area, informed their government about the opportunity which SRI represents. The Malaysian Minister of Agriculture is now planning to visit the Nagrak Organic SRI Center (NOSC) during his official visit to Indonesia in October 2008. There are plans also for a one-week training program for Malaysians at the NOSC, and for Indonesian SRI trainers to go to Malaysia thereafter to help guide the introduction of SRI methods there.

In Timor Leste, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has taken up SRI as a national program, and 14 key agriculture staff have been trained on SRI in Lombok, Indonesia. These staff in turn conducted SRI training for more than 100 newly recruited extension staff of MAF, who will start their work in October 2008. These activities were achieved through cooperation with and support from INA-SRI and the DISIMP-Nippon Koei project team headed by Shuichi Sato, according to Georg Deichert (GTZ) who has been advising MAF on this initiative. In Papua-New Guinea, Dr. Shyam Yadav, chief scientist for its National Agricultural Research Institute, has taken initiative to get SRI evaluation started in his country.

Delegates from both Timor Leste and PNG plan to attend an Indonesian national SRI workshop being held October 20-21, supported by the Directorate-General of Land and Water Management in the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Indonesian Association for SRI (Ina-SRI) and several other organizations. The first day will feature farmer reports followed by a day of presentations from cooperating universities, NGOs and government agencies. More information on this can be obtained from the Ina-SRI coordinator Dr. Iswandi Anas.

The Guyana Rice Development Board has invited Norman Uphoff from Cornell to make a presentation on SRI to the Centennial Rice Conference it is holding November 7-8 in Georgetown. This will provide an opportunity to share knowledge of SRI experience from other countries with rice specialists and policy-makers from Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reports that rice grown under flooded conditions has higher arsenic content than the same variety grown in aerobic soil, as with SRI. At the same time, the more aerobic rice has higher content of zinc, copper, manganese and magnesium, suggesting that it has more nutritional value. This finding warrants more systematic and wider testing before firm conclusions are drawn. We hope that such a number of evaluations will be done both carefully and widely to establish whether demonstrable health benefits can be obtained from using SRI methods (see article on arsenic).

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