System of Rice Intensification

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1. Jonathan Latham:

"A method of growing crops called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) produces yields that can be four or five times higher than other methods. SRI uses few or no pesticides and requires no fertilizer. The great success of SRI methodology across many countries is leading to its adoption for crops other than rice, mainly by innovative small farmers. The SRI method does not rely on specially bred varieties. The resulting crops are resilient, nutritious, pesticide-free, and their cost of production is low. It therefore is proving highly popular with small farmers. Does it sound too good to be true? There are questions of scalability: the system is unlikely to displace the agro-industrial complex. But when the majority of the world's farmers—almost a billion people—continue to make a living on small plots of lands, SRI can transform their lives." (

2. David Bollier:

"SRI is an agroecological system for improving the productivity of irrigated rice by changing the mix of plants, soil, water, and nutrients. While SRI is not a system of law, it is a self-organized social network of farmers in several dozen countries that has been tremendously empowering and productive. SRI collaborations in cyberspace have helped farmers boost rice yields by 20 to 100%; reduce the seed required by 90%; and reduce water usage by up to 50%. The project is notable for blending the use of online platforms with physical resource management – a trend exemplified by other “eco-digital commons.”


Jonathan Latham:

"The world record yield for paddy rice production is not held by an agricultural research station or by a large-scale farmer from the United States, but by Sumant Kumar who has a farm of just two hectares in Darveshpura village in the state of Bihar in northern India. His record yield of 22.4 tons per hectare, from a one-acre plot, was achieved with what is known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). To put his achievement in perspective, the average paddy yield worldwide is about four tons per hectare. Even with the use of fertilizer, average yields are usually not more than eight tons.

Sumant Kumar’s success was not a fluke. Four of his neighbors, using SRI methods, and all for the first time, matched or exceeded the previous world record from China, 19 tons per hectare. Moreover, they used only modest amounts of inorganic fertilizer and did not need chemical crop protection." (

More Information

* Memorandum: Reinventing Law for the Commons. A Strategy Memo for the Heinrich Böll Foundation. By David Bollier. Commons Strategies Group, 2015 [1]