A farmer using a Konoweeder on his SRI field.
Photo: S. Rajeesh


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Despite criticisms, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is gaining popularity among small and medium farmers in India not just because it has high potential in increasing rice yield, but also because it uses much less seed and water.

Rice is the staple food for the majority of the population in developing countries, and for India, this grain contributes 65 per cent of the total food grain production in the country. Researchers have constantly been working towards developing better and efficient grain production techniques that will not just produce a good yield but also use smaller quantities of natural resources in the process. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is emerging as a potential alternative to traditional flooded rice cultivation. In a country like India, where it takes about 70 per cent of the country's groundwater to produce this rice, opting for a technology that uses much less water makes perfect sense. Water is increasingly becoming the single most limiting factor in the production of food grain, especially in rain-fed locations, and despite irrigation, use of pest-resistant high-yielding varieties and high inputs of fertilisers and pesticides, rice yield is plateauing.

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