Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Publications Note SRI's Increasing Role in the Future of Food Production

Recently, a few new books have recognized the role of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in global food systems. Most of these publications call for a shift towards sustainable food production and use SRI as one example of how to meet growing food needs while safeguarding precious natural resources. Here are some of the highlights:

  1.  Natural Capital Impacts in Agriculture, FAO
 This publication looks at the true costs of agricultural production by analyzing the natural capital impacts to measure environmental benefits associated with different agricultural management practices. One case study compares conventional rice cultivation with organic SRI in India, finding that SRI saves scarce resources and reduces harmful side effects, all while giving higher yields. This encouraging study concludes that “the system of rice intensification offers clear environmental benefits compared to conventionally flooded rice farming systems in India. The analysis shows that the cost of natural capital impacts can be reduced by 25 percent largely due to the reduced impacts of land use change, water consumption and water pollution. There is also a case for switching farming practices based on economic performance of SRI systems. The increase in yields and decrease in input costs allowed the gross margin per hectare to increase by 18 percent for SRI.”





This guide looks at improved practices being applied by smallholder farmers in the developing world for sustainable cereal production. In the SRI chapter, the study looks at how healthy soils lead to healthy plants and higher yields. A special analysis is made of water use, and how SRI’s reduced water requirements can overcome anticipated water constraints in many parts of the world, as well as allow for upland and rain-fed rice production. “From widely-spaced plants in aerated soil, the System of Rice Intensification has produced yields double those of flooded rice fields. Its focus on soil health improves the rice plant’s access to nutrients, while its reduced irrigation needs help cut methane emissions.” There is a discussion of the possible increased labor or job-generating potential of SRI. The authors also note how governments, international organizations, and farmer groups have played a role in supporting SRI’s spread and uptake.



The author of this book, an agronomist and journalist for National Geographic magazine, looks at looming threats to feeding the world’s population, concluding that countries need to become self-sufficient in food production. SRI and SCI may be one solution: this “post-modern agriculture” is an alternative answer to the world’s growing food needs, in contrast to the Green Revolution. One review notes that “SRI has proven that it can produce more rice with fewer inputs, putting money in farmer’s pockets while reducing environmental woes. SRI methods have been used to successfully produce sugarcane, yams, tomatoes, garlic and eggplant.”



Authored by SRI-Rice’s own Senior Advisor, this book brings together Dr. Uphoff’s decades of experience in SRI to address the most frequently asked questions about this methodology. It is a must-read resource for all involved in SRI production, research, and promotion. Touching on all the major principles and applications of this system, the book demonstrates SRI’s many benefits, including: advantages for women farmers; the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; possibilities for adapting these methodologies to numerous agroecological conditions; and the spread of the methods to other crops, the System of Crop Intensification (SCI).



This publication looks at “eco-agri-food systems,” defined as sustainable food systems that can ensure food security now and in the future that will secure improved well-being and livelihoods. An academic literature review and biophysical modeling were used to compare rain-fed SRI to conventional rice cultivation in various rice-producing countries, with impressive results. The study finds incredible gains in countries around the world: in Senegal, “switching to SRI…could save around $11 million/annum in water consumption related health and environmental costs, and at the same time the rice producing community would gain around US$17 million through yield increases… If the Philippines were to change all their rain-fed lowland systems from conventional management to SRI, the rice producer community would gain a total of US$750 million through yield increases. No water consumption costs result from this farming system as it is dependent on rainfall only…This is one of many examples of win-win outcomes.”


6.  The Carbon Farming SolutionEric Toensmeier

This book examines carbon farming, defined as farming practices that sequester carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. In this global toolkit for carbon farming, SRI’s benefits are described. Citing a study from Madagascar, the author notes that the “mean lifetime soil carbon value in SRI fields was more than 150% higher than the lifetime soil carbon value in conventional fields.” This carbon-sequestering benefit alongside impressive yield increases frames SRI as a practice that can both achieve food security and contribute to climate change mitigation.






5 comments:

  1. A good blog for the people who really needs information about this. Good work keep it up.

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