The International Conference on the System of Crop Intensification (ICSCI22) for Climate – Smart Livelihood and Nutritional Security was planned and organised by the Society for Advancement of Rice Research (SARR), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research – Indian Institute of Rice Research (ICAR-IIRR), and other ICAR institutes and agricultural universities.
The event took place in hybrid mode during 12-14, December 2022, at the ICAR-IIRR campus, Hyderabad, India.
Around 8:30 am some 100 people gathered under the pavilion set up for the breaks in between the conference sessions. Multiple posters on SRI and SCI implementation around India caught the attention of some people, while others assembled in small groups to get to know each other before the official start. A tasty Indian breakfast facilitated the conviviality among the participants.
The inaugural session of the International Conference started around 9:30. The ICAR song played and the lights were turned on as per tradition. Dr Sundaram, Director at ICAR-IIRR, President at SARR and Chairman of ICSCI 2022, together with Dr Kumar, Secretary at SARR and Organising secretary of ICSCI 2022, welcomed the participants and introduced the event.
Dr. Himanshu Pathak, Secretary at DARE (the institution that coordinates and promotes agricultural research and education in India) and Director General at ICAR, together with Dr. SK Pradhan, chaired the session. Dr. Alapati Satyanarayana, first scientist to research SRI in India, was the guest of honour. Also, Dr. DK Yadava, Dr. R Jagdeswar, Francesco Carnevale Zampaolo from SRI-2030, Dr. Abha Mishra and Dr. Himanshu Pathak welcomed the delegates of this conference on behalf of ICAR and DARE.
Dr. Himanshu Pathak pointed out how the contribution of conventional rice production exacerbates problems like soil and water degradation, water depletion and greenhouse-gas emissions. He mentioned how the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) can address several of these issues while also contributing to food security, highlighting the importance of this conference in moving forward with its upscale. Dr. Pathak also stressed the importance of applying SRI methods to other crops for the System of Crops Intensification (SCI).
After all the guests and delegates were felicitated as per tradition, some relevant publications were released and awards were given to the best PhD and the most brilliant young researchers from SARR.
Later, all the participants and delegates were invited for a group picture and then enjoyed a tea break and some delicious local snacks while learning about each other’s expertise and interests.
After the break, Theme 1 of the conference ‘Current Status of System of Crop Intensification (SCI) in India and rest of the world’ was launched. Dr. Norman Uphoff, Professor Emeritus and Senior Advisor at SRI- Rice from Cornell University, USA, and Dr. Satyanarayana, Former Director at ANGRAU, delivered their keynote speech.
Dr. Uphoff brought the audience through his journey of SRI that he lived in first-person during the past 30 years. He described how the frameworks through which SRI methods were understood changed with the time and he depicted a desirable approach for the future.
Dr. Satyanarayana presented the current status of SRI in India and described which constraints need to be overcome for upscaling SRI implementation.
Later, eight invited speakers delivered their presentations, five online and three in person. The key takeaways from the sessions are that SRI is a flexible and adaptable approach to growing rice; not only the principles are to be translated into context-related practices, but, as Dr Rajendra Uprety from Nepal explained, the complete adoption of all the principles may take time under certain circumstances and support should be given to guarantee farmers’ smooth implementation of SRI practices.
Lucy Fisher from Cornell University stressed the importance of local and international networks for the dissemination of SRI methods and advocated for improved connections for the future upscale.
All the speakers shared their experiences in the implementation of SRI and SCI methods and some good insights from Nepal, Tanzania, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and West Africa were offered to the audience. Particularly, the session highlighted the global expansion of SRI methods and their successful adoption in very different agroecological and socio-economic contexts. Also, Theme 1 offered the opportunity to learn about upcoming national and multinational SRI projects like, respectively, the Helvetas’ project in Tanzania led by Dr Felix Bachmann and the RICOWAS project in West Africa led by Dr Erika Styger.
The presentation of Dr. Seema Ravandale and Dr. Debashish Sen analysed successful examples of SRI upscale in the Indian states of Bihar, Tripura, and Odisha, offering an opportunity to learn and replicate it in other parts of India.
After the closing of Theme 1, the participants enjoyed some mesmerising cultural dances followed by some networking at the dinner tables.
Day one ended happily, and everyone was excited to meet up the next morning for more learning and discussions on how to sustainably intensify the Indian agricultural sector.
Read about Day 2 here!