Friday, December 11, 2009

Update on SRI in Afghanistan

Some initial attempts to introduce the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) into Afghanistan were made as early as 2003, but sustained efforts began only in 2007 when the NGO German Agro-Action (GAA) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) began working with the methods in northern Afghanistan. Recently we have received a 2009 seasonal report from AKF which will interest many readers.
The first AKF trials were planted one month later than the usual rice crop, and given the short growing season at high altitudes, yield was lower than regular methods, although the SRI tillering was impressive – enough so that six farmers did proper comparison trials in 2008, and their average yield as measured by AKF technicians was a remarkable 10.1 t/ha. This was enough to spark greater interest among farmers.
In 2009, 42 farmers applied SRI methods to rice cultivation in 3 districts of Baghlan and Takhar provinces, including 7 farmers with SRI experience who functioned as resource persons (RPs), each working with 5 new volunteers. The on-farm comparison trials were carried out with supervision from the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)-managed Participatory Management of Irrigation Systems (PMIS) project, which is part of the larger government-led Panj-Amu River Basin Program (PARBP) funded by the EU.
Although an unreported number of other farmers dropped out of the evaluation because of Taliban threats, 42 managed their crops through to harvest, with average SRI yields of 9.3 t/ha, 66% more than their yields with traditional methods, 5.6 t/ha. Experienced farmers (those in their second year of trials) increased their land size under SRI and got 27% higher SRI yield compared to their first-year SRI yields.
The AKF-Afghanistan program, in addition to its 2009 SRI report, has prepared an excellent practical manual, available on CIIFAD's SRI website in the Afghanistan section. SRI activities by German Agro Action (GAA), CIIFAD and others are also noted on the country website.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

World Bank President Robert Zoellick Notes SRI's Potential

A December 2 article by World Bank President Robert Zoellick published online in the Hindustan Times makes a very favorable reference to SRI. The article, India could be a new pole of global growth: World Bank president, notes in paragraph 11: “Everyone cites India’s Green Revolution. But I’m even more intrigued by what is known as SRI, or system of rice intensification, and I know this is also an area of interest or PM Manmohan Singh. Using smart water management and planting practices, farmers in Tamil Nadu have increased rice yields between 30 and 80 per cent, reduced water use by 30 per cent, and now require significantly less fertilizer. This emerging technology not only addresses food security but also the water scarcity challenge that climate change is making all the more dangerous. These are all lessons for our world.” (Comments can be posted after the article if you would like to respond.)

Nemani Chandrasekhar subsequently pointed out in a SRI-India discussion group posting that Zoellick is visiting India from December 2-5, 2009, and during his visit will meet Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and several members of the Union Cabinet. He will also meet the CEOs of leading private sector companies in addition to interacting with farmers and rural communities on water issues. [For information on joining the SRI-India discussion group, see For information on groups in other countries, see our SRI Groups and Websites page]

The World Bank Institute News also recently covered the SRI toolkit that includes, among other items, videos on SRI.

A new 10 minute video by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University's IAMWARMP project shows some of the progress in Tamil Nadu that is referred to in Zoellick's article. This Tamil language video with English subtitles covers SRI experiences of the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management Project in Tamil Nadu India. [See our list of other SRI videos]

There are many resources about SRI in India online. Two excellent sites are the ICRISAT-WWF Project's SRI-India site and the WASSAN SRI site maintained by the Watershed Support Services and Activities Network.