Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SRI LANKA: Evidence of Flood Resistance in SRI Paddies

It is not unusual to hear reports of rice fields planted with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methods that do not lodge (fall over) in inclement weather or that can resist drought when the rains disappear. These positive outcomes are, at least in part, attributed to stronger, deeper roots that result from SRI practices. Now, reports from Sri Lanka suggest that SRI fields can be less susceptible to flood damage as well. Farmers in the north central region noticed that the paddy fields under SRI cultivation had not suffered as severely during recurring floods as per the experience in the northeast. According to an Oxfam Australia (OAU) report, this helped renew interest in SRI during 2010/2011. The report further mentions that research in Sri Lanka linking arsenic-related health problems to agricultural chemicals used in rice production have spurred an additional interest in organic SRI. (See Feb. Feature item for more information on this and the SRI Network in Sri Lanka).

As SRI generates more positive results, SRI network partners have been featured in newspaper articles, radio broadcasts and telecasts. Chaminda Fernando at OAU in Sri Lanka forwarded us several of these stories. Mohommed Ismail Rizana (at right), a woman farmer in Ampara District, achieved almost 80 bushels of rice with organic SRI methods, a 45% increase over average rice yields in the area (see full story).  R. M. Heenmenike, originally tried SRI in 2008 to save water. After her success in adopting organic SRI methods, she has become a volunteer SRI trainer and has been featured in newspaper articles and a video. (Read Heenmenike's story.)

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