Sustainable rice intensification

Here’s a think tank called the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First). Food First isn’t for profit. It’s worth watching.

At Food First, Hellin Brink tells us about Sustainable Rice Intensification (SRI, also known as the System of Rice Intensification). Dr Brink doesn’t think the smallholders of Asia want or need another Green Revolution. Not everybody agrees. Sound familiar? This is what keeps happening when people talk about food and farming. I say, keep your critical mind switched on and don’t believe everything you read.

Here’s SRI-Rice ONLINE which ‘contains the most comprehensive collection of information on the System of Rice Intensification globally.’

Here are some of Dr Brink’s words at Food First. ‘Many resource poor smallholder farmers in the global south has not benefitted from the conventional production methods developed through the intensification of agriculture known as the ‘Green Revolution’ (GR). Besides extensive evidence showing that GR technologies have caused widespread environmental damage with unintended side effects such as pollution and depleted soils, smallholder farmers have experienced problems with decreasing production levels, dependence on expensive inputs, debt and food insecurity. Instead, such input intensive production systems has favored land and cash rich farmers. As an alternative, SRI holds potential for all farmers, especially farmers with limited access to land and resources…

‘Despite of, or rather due to, it’s remarkable results, there has been much disagreement among the scientific community regarding the merits of SRI. While proponents hold it as a revolution in rice production, providing a profitable, ecologically and economically sustainable, alternative to conventional GR methods, critics dispute the system and level of yields, putting the significant increases down to good agronomic practices also found in conventional production, or simple errors in measurement.

‘At its core, the SRI debate appears to be characterized not solely by empirical observations, but by disagreements over appropriate scientific paradigms and disciplinary approaches. It is further noteworthy that many of the leading scholars raising critical voices against SRI are affiliated with large international organizations engaging in rice research. One example is the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), responsible for developing GR techniques for rice. IRRI actively pursues genetic engineering [GE, also called genetic modification, GM] and advanced breeding of rice through various multimillion dollar investments such as the Golden Rice Project. Conversely, prominent SRI supporters are mainly located within the international development and applied science sector. Likely, vested industrial and financial interests behind GR research agendas is a major factor driving the desire to dismiss SRI.’

Living in England, it’s not my place to tell Asian rice farmers what to do. But you might choose to follow my ‘rice’, ‘food’ and ‘development’ tags for more about this.

[Edit] Pakistani rice farmers are urged to use SRI.

[Edit] So are Indian, Chinese and Indonesian rice farmers, says my fellow blogger Rashid Aziz Faridi.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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