Reaping the benefits: rice system training increases yields and well-being
Tsukuba, Japan – Rice is the most widely cultivated and consumed crop in the world. It also supports life and livelihoods, especially in low and middle income areas. As such, methods of ensuring bountiful and profitable rice crops are essential to global food security.
The Rice Intensification System (SRI) offers a reproducible and sustainable system for increasing rice yields. It brings together fundamental planting and harvesting techniques such as strategic plant spacing, water minimization and transplanting seedlings. These practices can be repeated under varying conditions. While SRI has been around since the mid-1980s, the need for evidence persists to substantiate its merits and distinguish its techniques.
New findings published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics now provide much-needed evidence of IRS, after it has been disseminated to more than 5,000 Bangladeshi farmers. SRI training was introduced and evaluated among rice farmers in a manner similar to a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in medicine. Some communities have been formed, others not. This created a pure control group, similar to those who received a placebo or received nothing in an RCT. This in turn allowed for compelling comparisons, as well as information on the related effects of training.
Professor Abdul Malek from the University of Tsukuba (Japan), in collaboration with international colleagues including Asad Islam (Monash University), Christopher Barrett (Cornell University), Marcel Fafchamps (Stanford University) and Debayan Pakrashi (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur ), conducted these random introductions of IRS in Bangladesh and studied them from agricultural and social perspectives. The core of the researchers’ work was two RCTs in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
“To a large extent, we already know that SRI offers good returns, among other benefits. Some have questioned its uniqueness and results, however, so there is a continuing need for evidence to support it,” says the professor. Malek. “By randomizing a large cohort of farmers, we were able to examine both the quantifiable economic benefits of IRS and the qualitative benefits of disseminating this agronomic training and knowledge.”
Among the results, SRI led to increases in rice yield and profit from 14% to 17% and 22% to 31%, respectively. Household well-being was also found to be higher among farmers in trained communities than among those without training. In addition, a ripple effect was observed, as untrained farmers in the training communities were also exposed to SRI practices.
In two previous studies published under the name of Fafchamps, etal (2021 and 2020) available respectively on: lhab009, https: /
“We have covered a lot of ground verifying how IRS boosts the productivity and well-being of farmers,” Professor Malek said. “We have also seen how knowledge is transferred among trained farmers. This can help settle intense debates around SRI as a tool to boost rice productivity and the well-being of rice farmers. It also offers a lot of promise for agronomy around the world. South.”
The article “Experimental evidence on the adoption and impact of the rice intensification system” was published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics on https: /
This study and the two previous studies received two successive scholarships from the International Growth Center (scholarship numbers 1-VCA-VBAN-VXXXX-3111 and 1-VRC-VBGD-VXXXX-89309). Support was provided for fieldwork, training and surveys conducted by BRAC. The authors declare no competing interests.
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