However, they are relatively knowledge-intensive and require local adaptation, so that successful adoption by smallholders depends on proper extension programmes. Moreover, SRI requires more labour and management time, at least during the early stages of adoption. The results from Timor Leste and other countries suggest that impacts of SRI are quite situation-specific.

While SRI seems to be promising in many situations, this technology should not be seen as a substitute for other innovations, such as improved seed. There is still limited knowledge about the interactions of SRI with different rice varieties. But the highest SRI yields reported in the literature were actually achieved with high-yielding rice varieties and hybrids, suggesting that breeding and agronomic innovations are complementary. The development of sustainable production systems requires smart combinations of various technologies.

Further reading

Noltze, M., Schwarze, S., Qaim, M. (2012). Understanding the adoption of system technologies in smallholder agriculture: The system of rice intensification (SRI) in Timor Leste.