Six Publications that tell the stories and possibilities of SRI

SRI is a set of sustainable rice farming technologies that can help small farmers to significantly increase their rice yields. It is a low-input technology, which can be flexibly applied based on the local factors and farm conditions.

SRI methodology is based on four main principles that interact with each other:

  • Early, quick and healthy plant establishment
  • Reduced plant density
  • Improved soil conditions through enrichment with organic matter
  • Reduced and controlled water application

Based on these principles, farmers can adapt recommended SRI practices to respond to their agroecological and socioeconomic conditions. Adaptations are often done to accommodate changing weather patterns, soil conditions, labor availability, water control, access to organic inputs, and the decision whether to practice fully organic agriculture or not.

sri-cover1. From The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Responses to Frequently Asked Questions, Norman Uphoff  Norman Uphoff has lead the worldwide movement to understand and promote SRI,  a work for which he has won numerous awards. His SRI FAQs is just one of an extraordinary number of publications he has produced.

 

2. SRI has been successfully adapted to many cultures andmore-rice environments. Here is a link to an excellent joint publication which highlights the successes that Oxfam, WWF and AfricaRice have all had with SRI.

 

 

 

3. Here is a link to the worldwide Leisa issue on SRI. This is an excellent introduction to SRI and how it has been adapted to local conditions by farmers, researchers, governmental organizations and NGOs.

4. Here is the SRI-Rice website at Cornell which is the most comprehensive resource in the world. There are academic articles, reports on conferences as well as how SRI has appeared in both the popular and business press worldwide. The site is media rich and it is possible to search for resources by country as well as language.  Monthly updates are provided in several forms.

  • http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu

5. This Handbook for the Peace Corps was done to provide an Introduction to SRI for West Africans.  It was part of a very successful, multi-year project that expanded SRI in 13 West African countries using groups familiar with SRI as the trainers or “Champions”.  It is an excellent example of how training materials have been used to successfully adapt SRI for countries around the middle of our planet.

feed-the-future6. Here is a link to a major West African SRI project. SRI-RICE at Cornell was a major consultant on the SRI-WAAPP project, which will hopefully have a second phase/expansion. Thanks to Devon Jenkins, returned Peace Corps volunteer, and and Erica Styger for their work on this publication.

 

Coming Publications

Equipment for small scale farmers that can be built at the village level, for less than 50 USD, by metal workers and blacksmiths is a critical element of the successful adoption and spread of  SRI.  Here is an example of a weeder, called the “Mandava” Weeder that has been successfully used in many countries in flooded rice fields.  Earth Links produced these CAD drawings as part of our work to make these well tested designs available worldwide without cost. Earth Links also contributed some of these early weeder plans to the West Africa project above as well as to Latin American demonstration projects with IICA..

The NGO (SRI Global Inc) which Earth Link helped start, in turn helped to start the NGO, 3ASahel, that was a Champion promoter for Mali.  The first phase of the WAAPP project has successfully ended.

mandava-weeder

SRI has many benefits such as climate change adaptation and mitigation which is described in the publications above.  An emerging issue and critical health problem is the high levels of Arsenic in some rice. The real reduction in arsenic that appears to be produced by SRI growing techniques (from significant reductions in water use) is an area of research that needs to be done and shared worldwide. Here is a link to the study that should have published results soon.

Stephen Leinau
Executive Director
Earth Links Inc
elinks@cruzio.com

 

 

 

Small SRI Rice Farmers Can Reap Big Benefits with Affordable Tools

500,000,000 Rice farmers worldwide need high-quality, effective tools for transplanting, weeding and harvesting their crops. Earth Links is continuing our collecting and evaluating of well-tested equipment designs that we began in 2014.  We share these tools with NGOs as photos, PDFs, videos and and CAD files. These tools will also be part of our upcoming Open Source Tool Library that will help to meet the needs of small farmers around the world.

As partners in a new grant from Cornell University there will be the opportunity to have key components printed with 3D printers from CAD files that will be shared with researchers and farmers in the field for their evaluation, suggested modifications and then retesting.  These improved equipment designs can then be shared widely with existing networks as well as be very valuable additions to our upcoming tool library.

_Rice-Equipment-Model-CATALOG-160128-2

Cono Weeder

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Closeup of critical component.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inexpensive farm tools fabricated from good, simple, field-tested designs can make a life changing difference to farmers worldwide.

  • Equipment that encourages deep roots, soil health, minimal soil disturbance and water conservation creates a Climate-smart Agriculture and promotes soil conservation.
  • Small, efficient engines can be added to equipment to allow farmers to respond to labor shortages and increase their income and food security.
  • Women-friendly versions of tools with lighter weight materials and smaller sizes will increase productivity and decrease serious injuries.
  • CAD software allows tools to be resized and modified for local conditions as well as helps to select the best materials and the accurate reproduction of equipment.
rice-harvester

Mechanized rice harvester based on “brush cutter”.

rice-harvester-2

Close up view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Open-Source Library of Tools will help small rice farmers in many countries in their move to food security and sustainability. These equipment designs have been created over hundreds of thousands of hours by farmers as well as by agricultural engineers, equipment manufacturers and researchers.  When possible, these tools are best fabricated at the local level by blacksmiths and metal workers so that money remains in the community and the tools can be quickly repaired, tested, modified and improved.  Well tested tool designs, when made freely available, become vital elements in the successful introduction and use of agroecology techniques such as The System of Rice intensification (SRI), The System of Crop Intensification (SCI) and Conservation Agriculture (CA).

This is important work; Rice cultivation is the largest occupation in the world.  A well-managed acre of SRI rice and effective tools can produce over 5,000 pounds of food, while adapting to and mitigating climate change as well as using far less chemical inputs, water and seed than traditional farming techniques.

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Donations of Equipment and Supplies to Other Nonprofits from Earth Links

By Stephen Leinau, Executive Director

In my thirty years working in the nonprofit world, I have maintained an interest in meeting the needs of nonprofits and their clients with tangible items: work clothes, tools and the various necessities of life. From my tenure as the Director of the Long Island Food Bank in the 1980s, and coordinator of the USDA food distribution program on Long Island, to my work with Earth Links, I have learned from first-hand experience the value of materials that nonprofits need and can put to good use immediately serving people in need.

Volunteer Chris McPherson and donated clothing, 1995

Since its founding in 1991, supporting other nonprofit organizations has been at the core of Earth Links’ mission of “bringing people and resources together.” Through corporate, business, and individual contributions during those twenty five years, Earth Links has donated over one million dollars worth of materials to other nonprofits, including new clothing, software, computers, communication gear (such as satellite phones and ham radios), office supplies, and other items without costs to the nonprofits we serve. These materials have been and continue to be critical to the work of women’s shelters, community development projects, and advocates for indigenous peoples. Given the cuts to local, state, and federal budgets  (as well as economic uncertainties on the horizon), groups are in even more need, and Earth Links would like to continue this work in future.

We are always looking for the financial resources to support our giving of material donations from corporate and small business sources. Each $1,000 donation to Earth Links allows us to solicit, pay shipping and handling, and deliver $10,000 worth of needed items to other nonprofits.

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Insulated coveralls for local farm workers.

 

Donate now to help our continuing efforts to provide people with the resources they need!

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Jorge Acosta Facilitating SRI-Rice Education in Latin America in 2014

SRI as a network is growing faster in Latin America in 2014! This agro-ecological method for growing rice (the System of Rice Intensification), known in Spanish as SICA (la Sistema Intensivo de Cultivo Arrocero), has increased the food security of people all over the world, most recently in Latin American countries. Since the First International Latin American Workshop on SRI held in Costa Rica back in November 2011, more and more farmers and researchers are discovering the benefits of SRI. This is a critical movement, as Latin America currently produces only 50% of the rice they consume, and could surely benefit from the increased yields with fewer inputs that SRI provides. (You can read more about SRI here.)

SRI rice champion Jorge Orlando Acosta Buitrago

Passionate SRI advocate, researcher and writer Jorge Orlando Acosta Buitrago is the Latin America outreach coordinator for SRI Global Inc and Cornell”s SRI-Rice Center. Jorge is  a recent graduate of Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Jorge’s article, “El SICA orgánico en Colombia,” which was published in the magazine LEISA revista de agroecología, gives a timely and incisive look at the state of SRI in a country especially ready for large-scale adoption of SRI (you can read it here in Spanish). He is translating key SRI documents into Spanish and developing social media for Latin America.

Earth Links was helping to facilitate Jorge’s work and travel around Latin America. Thanks to an initial donation to Earth Links from Three Americas Inc., Jorge’s position was  funded for 2013. Now through a collaboration with SRI Global, Earth Links, Three Americas and generous matching funding from Bridging Peace Jorge has begun a full time initiative to bring SRI/SICA to Latin America.  Thanks to support  and office space provided by IICA Jorge will be able to spread information through their 35 offices throughout the Americas.

Farming Matters: Special Issue on SRI

The international quarterly magazine Farming Matters has come out with a special issue on SRI (SRI – Much More Than Rice, 29.1, March 2013), featuring wonderful people and projects promoting SRI worldwide and making a serious difference in the food security and food sovereignty of the communities where they are working.

The issue does an excellent job of exploring the theme “much more than rice.” As SRI-Rice’s Erika Styger writes in her article “SRI 2.0: How is SRI evolving and what are we learning?”,

Ecological approaches for sustainable agriculture intensification still offer much potential for development. With the accumulating evidence that the application of SRI core principles improves productivity not only for rice but also for other crops, the potentials for using the SRI methodology become broader and more relevant.

As longtime “champion” of SRI Norman Uphoff (former director of Cornell University’s CIIFAD) argues in an interview in this issue,

SRI is not a technology that can be put into a box. It is a set of ideas and experiences, a set of relationships and a set of values. This is often really hard to get across, especially to agronomists or to economists who want consider SRI as “only this” or “no more than that.” It should be kept in mind that the original objective of Tefy Saina in Madagascar was not just to grow more rice, but to help the rural people understand their situation and take the opportunity to improve it. While SRI was intended to help people produce more food, it was also expected to help them “liberate” themselves from unfounded beliefs or social pressures.

Check out this article on SRI in Peru, one Latin American country where SRI is making inroads. “We are convinced that this is not a crazy idea at all – and are sure that more farmers will join us,” writes farmer Divar Moya Zavaleta, whose success since he started using SRI in his rice fields in 2008-9 is beginning to convince other local farmers of the benefits of SRI. This snapshot of one project in Latin America highlights the need for information, resource sharing, technical assistance, and funding to allow Latin American countries to reach their potential for sustainable rice production and to expand to other crops.

We were also happy to see a piece on Hamidou Guindo and his self-help association 3A-Sahel in Douentza, Mali. Earth Links provided financial support to SRI Global, who in turn funded Hamidou’s project (read Hamidou’s progress report here). Hamidou and 3A-Sahel will be receiving funding again for 2013, and are going to expand the project this growing season.

The whole issue is available online, so check it out!

Searching for SRI on the website of Ileia will produce lots of very interesting results. https://www.ileia.org/

Farming Matters is a publication of the wonderful international organization the AgriCultures Network, which “shares knowledge and provides information on small-scale family farming and agro-ecology.” Visit their website at http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/

El Mirador Farm

Aldao Choatalúm, San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala

El Mirador Farm, winner of the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture’s Model Organic Farm Award, promotes an ecological, organic, and sustainable agriculture that fosters native plants and biodiversity.

Manuel Huz leads a training session at El Mirador

The dream of Manuel Huz—co-founder of the renowned Campesino-to-Campesino Movement and the Maní School of Ecological Agriculture—El Mirador is in a region particularly affected by Guatemala’s civil war. It is a testament to Manuel’s healing vision that El Mirador has become such a vibrant community center and has changed so many lives in the process. The Campesino-to-Campesino Movement that Manuel helped to establish emphasizes soil conservation and sustainability in the context of traditional campesino agriculture, promoting hands-on experimental learning, innovation, and exchange of ideas on the campesinos’ small holdings. It has spread from San Martín throughout the Americas and around the world.

Visitors at El Mirador

El Mirador is a self-sustaining, working farm and a training facility. Thousands of visitors come to the three-acre farm each year to learn about innovative, small-scale, low-cost practices in cattle, pig and fowl husbandry; production of corn, coffee, fruit, vegetables, firewood, cheese, animal feed, fish, compost and worm bins; soil and water conservation, reforestation, water recycling and the use of a biodigestor to produce methane as a fuel source.

Casita for overnight visitors

Three Americas and Earth Links have been the sole international supporters of El Mirador. Three Americas is currently working to help El Mirador produce a brochure, and a DVD of their farm tours, as well as working to identify funding for a much-needed second bungalow so that additional visitors and groups can spend the night at El Mirador during training sessions.

Watch Café Maya, a documentary video about Manuel Huz and El Mirador, directed by Emery Hudson, and produced by Roger Bunch for Three Americas.