The rapidly growing demand for food and fiber and the competition for land and water resources between rural and urban populations is straining the productive and ecosystem services capacity of agroecosystems globally. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a set of practices derived largely from farmer experimentation and local, institutional innovation. Verified reports from farmer fields indicate that the SRI practices are resulting in significant increases in rice yields relative to traditionally used and improved rice cultivation practices. More significantly, however, farmers and researchers from 30 countries are reporting increased nutrient and water use efficiency as well as major savings in the amount of seed used in farmers' fields. Reported constraints to the use of SRI include the ability to access and control water flows at the field level, increased need for labor in some areas, the increased risk from planting very young seedlings, and the availability of appropriate tools for weeding and field leveling. As rice yields increase, there will be an eventual need to improve nutrient and water management issues from field to watershed scales to sustain the higher plant and system productivity. Farmers and researchers are continuing to evaluate and improve SRI practices based on local biophysical, economic, and social conditions.
The SRI multimedia toolkit produced by the World Bank Institute (WBI) is a valuable and readily accessible resource for current practitioners as well as farmers, researchers and policy makers, and presents a clear account of the cropping methods employed by SRI farmers. The information is illustrated with examples from farmers' fields, enhanced with easy-to-understand graphics, and presents testimony from farmers and researchers in many countries. In addition, it clearly identifies constraints to adoption and highlights the fact that SRI is a work in progress, with practices being adapted to overcome these constraints. Given the increasing impacts from climate variability and expected climate change on agroecosystems globally, this toolkit provides very timely information for rice farmers, researchers, and policy makers concerned with agricultural productivity and natural resource management.
— Erick Fernandes, Adviser, Land Management, Agriculture and Rural Development, The World Bank