Agri Business

Out of Africa

M.R. SUBRAMANI | Updated on November 22, 2017

A farmer adopting System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Pudukottai (file photo).

A farmer watering the seedlings sowed in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method on the polythene sheet in the terrace of a house at a village near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District.   -  THE HINDU

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) emerged in Madagascar in the 1980s. It was the brainchild of Henri de Laulanie, a Jesuit priest. Today, it is being adopted by farmers in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, among other states.

SRI has four components: soil management, efficient planting, weed control and water management. It uses fewer seeds and less water while increasing yields. Normally, 20-30 kg of seeds are sowed over an acre. With SRI, only about 3 kg has to be sowed. During transplantation, each seedling is planted at least two feet from the next one. According to scientists, the distance ensures proper nutrition and growth. In the traditional method, seedlings are bunched together, leading to competition for nutrition, which affects the yield.

Rice, a staple food in India, is a water-intensive crop. But water consumption in the intensification method is 25-50 per cent lower. SRI thus helps in growing paddy in regions where water is not abundant. The output is at least 25 per cent higher than traditional methods. For example, farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvallur district, who adopted SRI, reaped 3.9 tonnes of paddy per acre against 3.1 tonnes in the traditional method.

D. Sugunamma, a farmer in Kaktur village in Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar district, says that during a dry spell in 2009, the SRI system ensured that his crops did not wither. “Under the SRI system, paddy needs water only once in four days. In 2009, the plants sometimes went without water for eight days at a stretch,” he says.

Published on August 18, 2013

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