The System of Rice Intensification: Time for an empirical turn

D. Glover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is claimed to be a new, more productive and more sustainable method for cultivating rice. These claims have proved controversial. One dimension of the controversy has centred on the imprecision with which SRI's component practices have been defined. The supporters of SRI suggest that the system has been designed to satisfy the needs of rice itself, implying that it is a set of integrated, mutually reinforcing practices that need to be implemented as a package in order to obtain the best results. However, they also argue that the system should be understood as a suite of flexible principles to be adapted to particular agro-ecological and socio-economic settings – the antithesis of a fixed package. This poses a conceptual and practical challenge for scientific evaluation of SRI methods. However, this apparent difficulty is chiefly an artefact created by conceptualizing agricultural methods as standardized packages. A process of translation is always necessary to convert theoretical models or norms into farming practices. Smallholder farming practices, being intrinsically constrained and contingent, rarely conform precisely to abstract norms. As an alternative, the notion of performance offers a useful way to frame a methodological and analytical approach to understanding what is going on in SRI. Such an approach calls for close technographic observation of farming activities and the interaction between farmers and their fields, plants and tools
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Volume57
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • management
  • sri
  • biotechnology
  • information
  • madagascar
  • farmers
  • science
  • yields
  • poor

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