the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
farmers of irrigated rice in Asia, Africa and the Americas are using a production
method called S.R.I.
S.R.I. is short for the System of Rice
Intensification. It does not require new seeds. It only requires changes in the ways that rice farmers manage
plants, soil, water and nutrients.
S.R.I, farmers use fewer seeds and transplant them earlier than usual. Leaving
more room between plants lets the roots and leaves spread more. Farmers also
use less water. They keep the fields moist but do not continuously flood them.
The use of chemical fertilizer
is also reduced or even eliminated.
Norman Uphoff is a big
supporter of the System of Rice Intensification. He was a professor of
government and international agriculture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New
York. He retired but still works from an office there to bring attention to the
A French priest, Father Henri de
Laulanie, developed S.R.I. in Madagascar in the nineteen
eighties. Norman Uphoff learned about it fifteen years ago while working there.
He led field trials for the system for three years.
says it usually doubles productivity. But during that time in Madagascar, it
produced an average of eight tons per hectare. That was four times the usual
average. In the late nineteen nineties, Professor Uphoff began trying to spread
the word about S.R.I.
Supporters say there have been reports from many areas of
large increases in productivity and profits. But not everyone is persuaded.
Kenneth Cassman is an agricultural expert at the
University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In his words, "There is no strong
evidence that the S.R.I. is more effective than the best of conventional
Kenneth Cassman notes that productivity
in irrigated rice fields has been slowing, or stagnating, for years. He says there
should be more research into the problems and how to solve them.
But Norman Uphoff says he looks forward to more field
trials next year which he believes will confirm the effectiveness of S.R.I.
World Bank says farmers using the system in India's Tamil Nadu State are
harvesting forty to eighty percent more rice than before. They report using
eighty-five percent less seed and saving thirty-two percent on water usage.
And that's the VOA Special English
Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. For a link to the S.R.I. home
page at Cornell, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.