Rice planting technique promises better yield
NAGA CITY—A system of planting rice without synthetic chemical inputs but uses only organic farming methods promises a better yield, said representatives of nonprofit organization SRI (system of rice intensification) Pilipinas.
SRI Pilipinas, which is composed of researchers and scientists, encourages farmers to leave behind rice planting methods that use agrichemical inputs and instead adopt the SRI system, a planting method developed by French Jesuit Fr. Henri Laulanie in the 1990s.
In a forum with local media here on Tuesday, the group’s representatives said among the strategies adopted by SRI are the nonburning of rice straw, nonuse of agrichemicals, reduced seeds and use of farm-produced seeds to help increase production and protect the environment.
Teodoro Mendoza, crop science professor at the University of the Philippines, said SRI uses only 7 kilograms of seeds per hectare compared to 80 kg of seeds per hectare in the conventional practice.
In the SRI system, he said the rice plants are planted singularly in a recommended distance of 25 x 25 centimeters while the traditional practice is to plant several plants in every hill.
Mendoza said SRI also provides a suitable environment to reduce the attack of pests.
Roberto Verzola, national coordinator of SRI Pilipinas, said since the seeds are singularly planted, they tend to grow better because there is no competition with other plants, so the results are healthier plants capable of producing more grains.
In 2006, because of concerted efforts to adopt organic agriculture and the SRI method, the farmers’ yield increased to an average of 5 tons per hectare compared to 3.6 tons per hectare without the SRI system, Verzola said.
“The system was also found to be cost-effective, since production per hectare was reduced and net income increased from P17,200 to P37,636,” SRI Pilipinas said in its brochure.
The group also cited increased employment in the rural areas with the adoption of SRI, as well as enhancement of the ecosystem and protection of people’s health.
Lucy Fisher, researcher from Cornell University and advocate of SRI, warned, however, that the beneficial results of SRI could be achieved only if the ways and methods are all executed right.
SRI is being promoted by Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, Camarines Sur, in partnership with SRI Pilipinas and other civil society groups.
CBSUA, in a statement, said that amid intensive chemical farming and the use of high-yielding varieties all over Bicol, SRI provides a better option for rice growers through the use of organic farming.
CBSUA has 16 trainers, with more than 500 farmers trained on organic rice farming through the SRI system.
CBSUA and SRI Pilipinas have established 22 demonstration and trial farms while research is underway to come up with technologies and information to improve the system, the statement added.
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