Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning around the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the Lower Mekong River Basin (GCP/RAS/288/AIT)

Background

Approximately 22 million hectares of land area are under rice cultivation in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) region, with about 90% of this area rainfed, lacking reliable irrigation facilities. Smallholder farmers predominate in the region but they are able to produce much less than is possible due to poor access to new ideas, depletion of the natural resource base and constraining institutional and policy environments. This has created a vicious cycle of low productivity, pervasive poverty, and severe food insecurity (Kristensen, 2001). The potential for innovative agro-ecologically-based crop management practices to address these inter-linked issues has generated considerable interest.

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and its key management practices--transplanting young seedlings, giving plants more space, avoiding continuous flooding--when implemented together, has in many instances resulted in substantial increases in yield while reducing input use. SRI methods have been controversial in some circles but have gained significant momentum among farmers in a wide variety of agro-ecosystems and have been demonstrated to be effective now in 42 countries, with considerable successes mainly in irrigated areas.

The Project:

The suite of management practices that characterize SRI will now be tested in a new regional project which will support farmer-led research for the development of location-specific applications in rainfed areas. Building on past experience and partnerships between AIT, FAO/IPM, and Oxfam America (O-A) and the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), the project seeks to stimulate local innovation using SRI/FFS approaches involving smallholder farmers in rainfed areas of LMB countries.

Stakeholders and Target beneficiaries

The project has many stakeholders since it has the potential for producing wide-ranging impacts on the environment and rural livelihoods. The primary stakeholders are extension workers, scientists, non-government, government and development organizations, and academic and research institutions. The target beneficiaries will be male and female farmers and landless labourers as well as national policy makers.

Outcome

Sustained crop yields and productivity and enhanced resilience to changing and variable climatic conditions among rainfed smallholder farmers (including landless and women) and farming communities in LMB.

Planned Activities

The resilience of rainfed smallhlder farmers (including landless and women) and farming communties confronting climate change and other chllenges will be enhanced by stimulating and supporting local innovation through Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and farmers’ participatory action/field research (PAR/FFR) and collaboration among agriculture sector organizations working on enhancing food security and policy dialogue. Functional networks and existing relationshps among implementing partners and counterparts at local, national and regional levels will be strengthened for coordinated knowledge gneration and action. Partnerships with farming communities will be established to support innovation systems and develop locally adapted technological options for sustainable increased yields and productivity using SRI and indigenous crop production knowldge. Results from FFS and farmers’ PAR/FFR will provide platforms for policy dialogue - using SRI as entry point - to address food security and resiliency of smallholders (including landless and women) and vulnerable communities.

Implementation Period

January 2014-December 2018

Total financial size

1.2 US$ (FAO implemented Component on Farmer Field Schools/Farmer Field Research)

For more information on the overall EU-funded and AIT implemented SRI project: http://www.sri-lmb.ait.asia