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Science, practice and the System of Rice Intensification in Indian agriculture


  • Glover, Dominic


The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is claimed to be a novel approach to rice cultivation that is both more productive and more sustainable than conventional methods. Such claims have been challenged or dismissed by many rice scientists, however. Despite the lack of clear and unequivocal endorsement by science, SRI seems to have spread widely and rather quickly to many rice-growing regions, including various areas of India. This paper discusses how and considers why SRI seems to have attracted the support of diverse stakeholders in Indian rice farming. As such, the SRI phenomenon should be taken seriously. Nevertheless, many scientific questions remain to be answered, concerning the biophysical mechanisms involved in SRI and their effects on plant performance and crop yields, the true spread of SRI practices among farmers and the system’s impacts on farm livelihoods, rice production and resource use. Indian enthusiasm for SRI implies a level of dissatisfaction with conventional approaches to rice intensification and a demand for new methods that can address the perceived problems and challenges of agriculture in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Glover, Dominic, 2011. "Science, practice and the System of Rice Intensification in Indian agriculture," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 749-755.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:6:p:749-755
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2011.07.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Norman Uphoff, 2007. "Agroecological alternatives: Capitalising on existing genetic potentials," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 218-236.
    2. Senthilkumar, K. & Bindraban, P.S. & Thiyagarajan, T.M. & de Ridder, N. & Giller, K.E., 2008. "Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 82-94, September.
    3. Stoop, Willem A. & Uphoff, Norman & Kassam, Amir, 2002. "A review of agricultural research issues raised by the system of rice intensification (SRI) from Madagascar: opportunities for improving farming systems for resource-poor farmers," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 249-274, March.
    4. Senthilkumar, K. & Bindraban, P.S. & de Boer, W. & de Ridder, N. & Thiyagarajan, T.M. & Giller, K.E., 2009. "Characterising rice-based farming systems to identify opportunities for adopting water efficient cultivation methods in Tamil Nadu, India," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(12), pages 1851-1860, December.
    5. Dobermann, A., 2004. "A critical assessment of the system of rice intensification (SRI)," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 261-281, March.
    6. Sinha, Shekhar Kumar & Talati, Jayesh, 2007. "Productivity impacts of the system of rice intensification (SRI): A case study in West Bengal, India," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 55-60, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hochman, Zvi & Horan, Heidi & Reddy, D. Raji & Sreenivas, Gade & Tallapragada, Chiranjeevi & Adusumilli, Ravindra & Gaydon, Don & Singh, Kamalesh K. & Roth, Christian H., 2017. "Smallholder farmers managing climate risk in India: 1. Adapting to a variable climate," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 54-66.
    2. Noltze, Martin & Schwarze, Stefan & Qaim, Matin, 2013. "Impacts of natural resource management technologies on agricultural yield and household income: The system of rice intensification in Timor Leste," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 59-68.
    3. Yonas Alem & Håkan Eggert & Remidius Ruhinduka, 2015. "Improving Welfare Through Climate-Friendly Agriculture: The Case of the System of Rice Intensification," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(2), pages 243-263, October.
    4. Hermans, Frans & Roep, Dirk & Klerkx, Laurens, 2016. "Scale dynamics of grassroots innovations through parallel pathways of transformative change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 285-295.


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