WhatHowHow muchwhywhowhere

Policy Action

To achieve the climate, food-security, and economic benefits SRI provides, institutional support is fundamental in upscaling SRI rapidly. Policies can be enacted at various levels within government systems, from national to regional to local.

The following are a range of policy areas that can be assessed and adapted for each country's context to support faster uptake of SRI.

Equipment

A lack of investment into and provision of equipment to ease the uptake of SRI is a limiting factor to SRI dissemination in many countries. Actions to increase equipment availability include:

Develop mechanical transplanters and direct seeders for SRI

1. Competitions for designs for SRI-specific machinery from local universities

2. Invest in local artisans to make designs specific to local conditions

3. Arrange for manufacture and sales

Compile and evaluate alternative equipment designs for weeders and markers

1. Make CAD information on preferred models available on open-source

2. Prioritise the development of motorised weeders

Promote production and marketing of equipment

1. Work with small fabricators

2. Work with large manufacturers

3. Work with marketing networks

Make information about and access to SRI equipment widely available

1. Develop websites with information of regional producers and suppliers

2. Develop strategic arrangements for purchase and shipping

Irrigation

SRI practices require less water than conventional practices but improving irrigation will further increase water use efficiency.

Redesign or renovate irrigation ‘hardware’

to be able to deliver smaller amounts of water more reliably through small-scale irrigation systems

Support or establish farmer water user associations

to coordinate delivery of smaller amounts of water more reliably – government policy, training, programs to develop this ‘software’.

Compost / Organic Matter

In addition to harmful emissions, the addition of synthetic inputs to soil has damaging effects on soil health and fertility by causing long-term changes to soil pH, and creating a buildup of chemicals, while disrupting the soil biota.

Remove subsidies for inorganic fertiliser

so that ‘playing field’ is levelled; this has direct positive implications for reducing GHG emission

Provide subsidies for organic fertiliser

these need not be permanent, but can serve to build up demand based on evident impacts on yield and soil health

Support research and demonstrations

on composting and mulching – what varieties, methods, etc. are best for producing biomass that can be used for these purposes

Support development and manufacture of equipment for shredding biomass to accelerate decomposition

1. Competition for best designs evaluated by technicians and farmers – offering prize money for best designs is a faster route than setting up research programs

2. Get production and distribution of shredders established

3. Support development and manufacturing of other equipment and tools that make composting and mulching easier and quicker - for example, cutting tools, implements for transporting biomass and compost such as well-designed wagons or wheelbarrows.

Training and Materials

Training is an essential element for SRI to empower farmers to fully understand SRI principles and provide them with the confidence to adapt and adjust as necessary.

Establish training programs on SRI methods

this can be carried out through farmer field schools or other organisations.

Develop materials for training programs and for farmer-to-farmer dissemination

particularly videos and durable materials. These should be developed with farmers, not just for farmers.

Develop system of training, support, supervision and motivation of farmer-to-farmer trainers -

preparation and distribution of materials like T-shirts and baseball caps for trainers.

Marketing

Increasing private sector participation in marketing of SRI-grown rice will encourage SRI adoption through raising awareness and access to markets for farmers, and ensuring better remuneration.

Establish criteria and standards for what qualifies as ‘SRI-produced rice’

which can be based upon the practices and principles outlined on this website. Region-specific adaptations will be necessary to produce the best results in different topographies and climates.

Encourage or enforce distinct marketing channels for SRI rice

so it can be properly remunerated. It is repeatedly reported that SRI has superior qualities that are not remunerated if SRI supply is mixed into undifferentiated stocks - this also can open up opportunities for remunerative export marketing.

Carbon Credits

Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are an economic mechanism to incentivise a transition to more environmental production systems. However, it is important to accurately estimate the opportunity cost of PES schemes, and to use evidence-based evaluation of the ecosystem services flow to ensure sustainability. Carbon markets are a form of PES scheme, where private partners pay farmers for reductions in GHG emissions resulting from implementation of SRI practices.

Establish metrics for SRI reduction of GHG emissions (GWP)

Conduct GHG emission measurements using local universities or research centres. Different regions and practices result in varying GHG mitigation potentials.

Negotiate to include SRI producers, with appropriate criteria, safeguards and verification, to be eligible for carbon credit payments

including reliable system for carbon credit compensation.

Extension Services

Extension services typically act as a bridge between research and farmers. Investment in extension services is invaluable to upscaling SRI. By disseminating technical knowledge from extension workers to farmers, the speed of spread of new technologies increased and supported farmers in the conversion from conventional practices.

Establish policy that agricultural extension services will promote SRI use where appropriate

Provide training to agricultural extension agents to properly extend SRI knowledge and practice

Cooperate with NGO and private sector programs extending SRI – may need policy guidance

External Sector Support

NGOs, the Private Sector and Civil Society can be encouraged promote and support SRI

Facilitate private sector promotion of SRI under ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) umbrella

Engage Civil Society

Make clear to civil society generally (NGOs, local governments, service clubs, churches, etc.) that SRI promotion will facilitate achieving national goals (including NDCs) as well as help their beneficiaries and members

Credit and Insurance

These are common methods for promotion of agricultural innovations. Credit is less relevant for SRI because this innovation is not input-dependent and reduces costs of production, with less seed required and less or no inorganic fertiliser. Credit systems require both cost and personnel to administer and often have undesirable leakage. Some smallholder farmers may require subsidy support in order to acquire inputs for SRI, such as mechanical weeders or small-scale irrigation pumps.

Weeders

Weeders, manual or motorised, do not need to be individually owned but can be purchased by groups of 5-6 farmers. Since weeders by themselves raise paddy yield, they more than pay for themselves in one season. A hire-purchase or down-payment system can be set up where private sellers conditionally sell weeders to farmers for, say, 20% of the price, with ownership passing to the individual or group buyers upon payment of the balance remaining (possibly incorporated interest for 3-4 months) at the end of the season, after harvest. This would be more efficient than a conventional credit scheme.

Insurance against loss

Rather than a conventional insurance scheme, a simple program ‘insuring against loss’ could be established, where farmers willing to try SRI methods are assured (insured) that if their yields do not improve with SRI methods, they will be reimbursed for the value of any shortfall in harvest.

The prior level of production, best averaged over the preceding three years, would be registered in advance. Clear requirements for getting training would be specified, including a form in which farmers record dates (and relevant yields), to assure that SRI methods are learned and used (trainers or extension agents might have to sign off or co-sign on certain items.) Harvest results should be certified, verified by neighbours or extension agents, as part of the promotion program. When a farmer’s yield falls below the pre-specified former yield, there would be compensation.

SRI experience is that farmers almost invariably have increased yield (with lower costs), so there should be little or no financial cost to the government, only planning and establishing SRI policies, and operating a coherent ‘insurance’ program. There should be some provision in the agreement that this does not cover pest or climate damage, which would affect all farmers and not be attributable to their using SRI methods. Usually, use of these methods will indeed mitigate or buffer losses due to stress from climate and/or pests.

Nationally Determined Contributions

Incorporating SRI extension into environmental pledges will enable governments to achieve goals aligned with those required to mitigate global warming, such as the Methane Pledge from COP26 or the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda from COP27, alongside several other socioeconomic and environmental benefits.

Incorporating SRI practices intoNDCs to achieve targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions

Targets should be specific and unconditional.

The Vietnamese government included alternate wetting and drying (AWD) in its NDC, specifying two low-carbon rice production systems similar to SRI, alongside an aim of reducing the rate of burning of rice straw fields from 90% to 30%.


The Government of Bangladesh plans to upscale AWD to 150,000ha of dry season rice fields, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilisers on 836,000ha crop land.

Both mitigation actions can be achieved through upscaling SRI.