Recently, IIRR partnered with the government of Guinayangan, in the Philippine Province of Quezon and local agricultural experts to initiate a special training program for farmers. The training covered a healthier, more productive and practical alternative method of rice farming commonly known as “SRI” or “System of Rice Intensification”. It is a method of planting and growing rice that increases crop yield while avoiding the use of agro-chemicals, thus protecting the health of community members along with that of the surrounding environment.
As part of the initiative, thirty farmers attended a training session led by an organization called SRI Filipinas. Ten of the farmers are also participating in experiments with 6 varieties of rice testing which are best suited for SRI and local conditions. The main principles of SRI covered in the training included:
1. Water Level – Soil should be kept moist rather than fully saturated so that the seedlings can maintain optimal oxygen levels. The more oxygen, the more root growth, the more root growth, the healthier the plant, and the more rice it will yield.
2. Spacing – Seedlings should be spaced far apart from each other to allow maximum root growth. This configuration will not only allow the rice to get more oxygen, but also more sun – creating optimal photosynthesis conditions.
3. Timing – Seedlings should be planted when less than 15 days old.
4. Planting – Seedlings should be planted in shallow soil, quickly and carefully to avoid root trauma and transplant shock
SRI is known to yield more rice at a much lower cost than in the traditional method of “paddy field farming” involving full flooding of parcels of arable land. The traditional paddy method discourages the growth of weeds; however, harvest requires large amounts of strenuous manual labor, can cause irreparable soil erosion, and produces a great deal of methane gas.
IIRR pursued this SRI training in order to explore sustainable agricultural systems for local farmers who have suffered due to decreasing rice production. IIRR hopes that this training was the first step in strengthening ties in this community and plans to continue to support on-the-ground initiatives in resource management and food security in the province of Quezon.