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IN FOCUS IN THIS ISSUE
The ASEAN Integrated Food Security
(AIFS) framework and Strategic Plan of
Action (2015-2020) recommends
introduction of System of Rice
Intensification (SRI) and Conservation
Agriculture integrated practices as a
Climate-Smart agriculture to address the
emerging issues related to food security,
the SRI-LMB project intervention in the
Lower Mekong River Basin countries can
be seen as a very timely initiative.
Utilizing the implementing consortia of
the Project, which are functional at the
local, national and regional level, so far,
the field activities were conducted at
>500 Farmers’ Participatory Action
Research (FPAR) sites involving more
than 12,000 farmers in 33 districts of 11
provinces across all four countries (3 in
Cambodia, 3 in Lao PDR, 3 in Thailand
and 2 in Vietnam). More than 500 field
experiments and locally-suited SRI
demonstration plots were set up by
farmers for the development of low-cost
technological options mostly in rainfed
production systems using SRI principles.
The results reported so far were clustered
under three performance indicators: 1)
improved farmer livelihoods
(productivity, profitability and labour
productivity; 2) resource use efficiency
(water productivity, inorganic fertilizer
use efficiency, and total energy input);
and 3) climate change mitigation
(greenhouse gas emission reduction),
where possible, and were compared
with the baseline scenario. The results
showed that SRI practices helped to
improve livelihoods across the LMB
region by increasing rice yield (66% w.r.t.
baseline) and net returns (70% w.r.t.
baseline).
National Review and
Planning Workshop (NRPW)
Vietnam
Page 2
Field mission to review status
of FPAR implementation in
Laos
Page 5
Page 3-4
Further it showed that the labour use efficiency
increased (66% w.r.t. baseline) with SRI practice
along with higher water productivity (59% w.r.t.
baseline) and inorganic fertilizer use efficiency.
At the regional level, 31 Kg of paddy was
produced per Kg of inorganic fertilizer applied,
whereas it was 11 kg in the baseline figure. The
total energy input in farming decreased by 37%.
With respect to greenhouse gas emission
reduction, the results reported 16% and 13%
reduction in total greenhouse gas emission from
rainfed and irrigated areas respectively
compared to the baseline figures.
Therefore, it was clear that there is a potential to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
encouraging adoption of SRI practices. The SRI
intervention provides opportunities to address
the food security, climate change adaptation
and achievement of sustainable development
goal in a more complementary way. Sustaining
ecosystems and their services, creating more
with less, accelerating access and integrating
the poorest are possible through this kind
intervention.
Some of the results have been shared at
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwAN
D94jB80zZG5SSFZMZWJYUWc
Continuing support for the SRI-
LMB FPAR women groups in
Bac Giang, Vietnam
Page 3-4
Building on SRI-LMB
Project experience
Page 6
A project funded by the European Union A project implemented by the Asian Institute of Technology
The view expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
National review and planning
workshop, Cambodia
Page 7
Page 7
Supporting landless and
woman under SRI-LMB project
in Cambodia
Page 8
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Delivering Food Security
without Increasing Pressure on the Environment
SRI, farmer plot in Champagne district,
Savannakhet province, Lao PDR
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
,
The National Review and Planning
Workshop (NRPW) of SRI-LMB project in
Vietnam, was held at Ha Tinh, on 17th
August 2017. There were about 40 to 45
participants including staff from Plant
Protection Department (PPD), research
institutes, SRI-LMB project personnel, FAO
and project farmers.
Mr. Tran Van Hieu, Country Coordinator
introduced the SRI-LMB project
implementation in Vietnam to the
participants and welcomed them to the
workshop. From 2015 to 2017, the project
worked directly with 2160 farmers. Data
analysis shows that the average yields
from SRI demonstrations in Bac Giang
and Ha Tinh provinces were higher by
0.6-1.2 and 0.16-0.36 T/ha, respectively,
compared to control plots. Since SRI
plots also required lower expenditures,
the net returns were higher by USD 267-
392 and 109-131, in Bac Giang and Ha
Tinh, respectively.
Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong, Vice Director
General, PPD, Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development (MARD), recounted
the gains that have been made since
the SRI practices were declared as a
Technical Advance in 2007. Today,
nearly 2 million farmers adopt these
practices (including partial adoption).
SRI is highly relevant for addressing the
current agricultural problems of the
country, like high input usage and costs
of cultivation, pesticide residues on farm
produce and the looming risks of climate
change.
Dr. Hoang Van Phu who coordinates the
SRI Network in Vietnam, explained that in
2015, SRI practices were adopted by
farmers in 35 provinces on about 500000
ha. A key problem for wider adoption
was the non-availability of a proper
weeding tool.
Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong discussed the
possibility of including weeding as one of
the services offered by the service-
provider teams supported by the PPD,
which currently can be hired by farmers
to spray pesticides on their fields. The SRI
Network of Vietnam, initiated in 2015,
National Review and Planning Workshop in Vietnam
Participants at NRPW, Vietnam
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
now has more than 20 organizations, with
about 60 individuals Members include
organizations like PPD of MARD, NGOs
like Oxfam and individual researchers.
Ms. Alma Linda Abubakar, from the FAO
discussed the details of their Save and
Grow Campaign. With supportive case
studies from Vietnam and Philippines, she
drew the attention of the participants to
how the integration of rice and
aquaculture production systems can
offer more benefits to the rice farmers.
There was a significant discussion on how
SRI practices could be scaled up in the
two provinces. The main ideas
concerned integrating useful SRI
practices into regular department work
of advising farmers; developing research
and communication outputs based on
project experience for various
stakeholders; demonstrating SRI
practices on a large area; motivating
farmers to influence their peers; and
integrating these practices in other
programmes where possible. Staff from
both provinces expressed the possibility
of mobilizing some of the funds required
for scaling up through the local budgets
already available, by integrating SRI
promotional activities into their regular
work.
During his closing remarks, Mr. Nguyen
Quy Duong expressed that the
government is interested in ensuring that
the activities continue even after the
project ends.
The PPD will encourage and support
development of plans for scaling up
SRI.
Where possible, SRI promotion will be
integrated into regular activities of the
department and other projects being
implemented (e.g. WB6 project; IPM
projects). PPD will attempt to
convince provincial governments to
provide funds earmarked for
agricultural extension to scale up SRI.
The department will soon be initiating
a project on rice value chain
development, which also allows
opportunity for integrating SRI
promotion among farmers.
Approaching National Agricultural
Extension Center can be another
opportunity to obtain funding for the
activities, including SRI promotion and
integrating it with aquaculture.
Opening remarks by Mr. Nguyen Quy
Duong, Vice Director General, PPD, MARD
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Page 2 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
3
Page 3 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
Continuing support for the SRI-LMB FPAR women groups in Bac Giang province, Vietnam
The SRI-LMB project is continuing to
support women groups who were
involved with the Farmer Participatory
Action Research (FPAR) activities in three
communes of Bac Giang province,
Vietnam. The implementation of the
activities over a one-year period until
February 2018 is being facilitated by the
Center for Initiatives for Community
Empowerment on Rural Development
(ICERD). Project funding is routed
through our key partner, the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO).
Several studies have shown increasing
outmigration of the Vietnamese women
from rural to urban areas over the last
three decades, due to both working and
non-working reasons. But this does not
seem to hold good for our project areas.
Women participants outnumbered men
farmers in the FPAR activities. In 2017,
about 85% of the total 720 farmers
directly involved with the FPAR activities
were women.
Many of these women farmers from Bac
Giang province had met the
participants of the Regional Review and
Planning Workshop (RRPW) during the
field visit organized in April 2017. They
had explained that adoption of SRI
practices benefited them, by reducing
costs and increasing yields. Regarding
pesticide usage, while their input usage
had decreased, they still considered that
inorganic pesticides provided better
pest control. In the subsequent NRPW in
August, several participants expressed
that the demonstration of SRI practices
over a large, contiguous area could be
significant in convincing more farmers
about the benefits of SRI practices.
The ICERD project considers many of the above issues. Through surveys and
workshops with active involvement of the FPAR women farmers and other
community members, including the Commune People’s Committee, it has
documented detailed, relevant information on the challenges faced by the
farmers in adopting and extending SRI practices; current practices and extent of
pesticide application; and gender roles and responsibilities in the farming
households. Activities planned under the project include:
 Raising public awareness about the negative externalities caused by
indiscriminate pesticide usage
 Facilitation of experimentation by women farmers in using biological agents and
botanical pesticides
 Training women farmers on preparing botanical pesticides and using straw bio-
mats to better capture the nutrients from animal waste
 Demonstration of the SRI practices in a large, 5 to 10-hectare plot by mobilizing
the land owners
 Involving the women groups in trials for growing potato on harvested rice plots
with minimum tillage
These activities are expected to encourage adoption of more eco-friendly
agricultural practices by the women farmers, and stimulate adoption of SRI
practices by other community members in the short-term. The field activities are
complemented with plans for policy advocacy. The project experiences will be
presented to the Commune People’s Committee so that they could be considered
for inclusion in their work plan for sustainable agriculture development, with the
larger farming communities. Successful outputs will also be shared with the PPD and
MARD.
Photo credit: ICERD
Photo credit: ICERD
Photo credit: ICERD
Page 4 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
Workload sharing in farming households, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam
Recent research led by the International
Food Policy Research Institute (2017)
critically examines four conventionally
accepted ideas concerning women
and agriculture, all linked to food
security: that they bear a higher burden
of poverty, have minimal access to land,
are intrinsically better in environmental
stewardship and make a higher
contribution to food production. The
nuanced analysis is helpful in designing
better programmes to reach out to
women farmers.
While dissecting the idea that women
farmers produce 60 to 80% of all food,
the researchers note the paucity of data
to justify the claim. They state that ‘better
data on women’s and men’s labor in
agriculture and household production
are critical in designing policies to
promote food security.
One of the workshops facilitated by
ICERD specifically examined this issue.
The simple exercise consisted of women
and men participants collectively
allocating the percentage household
workload shared by women and men
related to specific activities. Rice
production system was broken down into
21 key activities, raising children and
household management into six
activities each, and miscellaneous tasks
into 12 major activities.
Percentage workload shared by
Activities Men Women Together
Dong Phu Commune
Crop production 39 55 6
Taking care of children 31 59 10
Household jobs 15 72 13
Miscellaneous tasks 39 50 11
Tan Thinh Commune
Crop production 31 62 7
Taking care of children 35 63 2
Household jobs 21 77 2
Miscellaneous tasks 36 60 4
Tan Hiep Commune
Crop production 31 45 25
Taking care of children 27 65 8
Household jobs 42 56 2
Miscellaneous tasks 45 50 5
Photo credit: ICERD
The above table provides the average percentage of workload on women and
men. All the three communes, women’s share of the workload was more than that
of men for all activities. In case of rice farming, in general, excepting for the tasks
like leveling land, ploughing, deciding on which pesticide to buy and reading the
label on the container, women were involved more in all other tasks, from
purchasing inputs to spraying pesticides and selling produce.
Page 5 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
ACISAI, with the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and the SRI-LMB
project team in Laos, planned and took
part in a project review mission in
October 2017. The key mission objectives
were: verification of FPAR
implementation status in Laos in 2017;
holding discussions with District
Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO)
officials to better understand issues
related to project implementation; and,
collecting information and data
concerning crop growth and
development from FPAR sites visited.
The mission team visited 25 FPAR sites in
eight districts in three provinces.
Discussions were held with DAFO officials
in eight districts; and with the Farmer
Trainers and District Trainers in nine
districts across Khammaouane,
Savannakhet and Vientiane.
At the time of field visit, 59 percent of the
FPAR sites were already said to have
been harvested in eight of the nine
districts. No harvesting had begun in
Fouang FPAR plots since the farmers were
said to have delayed planting because
of late onset of rains. Most of the FPAR
sites visited had mature grains ready for
harvest in both SRI and Farmer Practice
(FP) plots. In SRI plots, transplanting single
young seedlings (13 to 23 days old) at
wider spacing
(mostly 25 x 25 cm) was most common.
In FP plots, farmers most commonly
transplanted multiple (up to 7) older (14
to 28 days) seedlings per hill using lower
spacing (mostly 20x20 cm.)
Lower seed usage, increased tillering,
better panicle growth with more grain
filling and improved grain quality,
potential to use grains as seeds,
increased yields and reduced costs were
among the advantages of SRI pointed
out by the FTs and farmers. Some
considered transplanting to be easier
with SRI (less area needed for nursery
raising, easier uprooting of seedlings,
faster transplanting due to wider spacing
which also saved time) while others
thought transplanting younger seedlings
at wider spacing, especially when using
hired labor, was difficult, more time
consuming and costly. Higher weed
incidence and risks of young single
seedlings being destroyed by snails or
rotting in case of flooding after
transplanting, leading to more gaps and
lower yields, were the main concerns
related to SRI adoption.
For the FPAR sites where data was
collected, projected yield per hectare
based on farmer estimates showed that
for the 13 FPAR sites where comparison
was possible, the yields of SRI and FP
plots could be equal at one site; at six
sites, SRI plots could yield more and in
the remaining six, the FP plots may.
But in case of the latter, four of the six
plots reported crop damage due to
snails and diseases.
Field mission to review status of FPAR implementation in Laos
Mr. Kongsy Xayavong, National Training Coordinator, SRI-LMB project, Laos, in discussion
with the farmers
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Ms. Vanny, Farmer Trainer from X
village, Nakai district in
Khammouane province of Laos, with
harvested panicles for data
Collection
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Post-harvest processing of rice by a
woman farmer from X village, Nakai
district
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT
Page 6 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
Building on SRI-LMB project experiences in Thailand
During the Regional Review and
Planning Workshop (RRPW, 2017),
Ms. Ladda Viriyangkura, Senior
Specialist on Rice Inspection and
Certification from Thailand Rice
Department, had discussed the
challenges confronting the Thai
farmers, the various driving forces
influencing agriculture and the
opportunities that could be tapped
into to ensure a healthier agricultural
sector, and better lives for the farming
communities.
The country’s Development Plan for
Agriculture is part of the National
Strategy No. 3, for strengthening the
economy on a sustainable basis. It
emphasizes conservation and
management of natural resources
including water and soils, increasing
their use-efficiency, and focusing on
strengthening forward and backward
linkages in agriculture. The strategy
outlined by Ms. Ladda involved
working with all relevant stakeholders,
from farmers to private sector and
consumers, to make agriculture
profitable for everyone concerned.
And it considered not only working
with more efficient and sustainable
rice production systems, but also value
addition, and ensuring produce
quality and traceability, all of which
could help in better price realization by
farmers.
While scaling up SRI remains a priority for
ACISAI, enhancing the center’s scope
of work to include other ecological
approaches, and issues like certification
and marketing, could be useful. Post
RRPW, two activities undertaken by the
center staff are aligned along this
interest.
In September 2017, the Team Leader
and the Action Research Coordinator
of SRI-LMB project were part of a group
visiting two Community Resource
Centers (CRC) in Ubon Ratchathani
province. The objective was to better
understand the project activities of
Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) and
Olam International. Interaction with
the farmers provided insights into the
gains made by the project farmers and
the challenges faced. Farmer interest
in tapping better markets was very
clearly reflected during the visit.
ACISAI also coordinated a visit by a
European private development
consultancy agency to Uttaradit
province in November 2017. The
implementation partner in SRI-LMB
project, the Vocational Training and
Development Center for Thai People
along the Border Areas (VTDC),
organized a workshop with farmers
from two villages. The potential idea of
experimenting with an alternative
ecological approach in rice cultivation
linked to produce procurement was
discussed during this
Event.
This was followed by a one-day field
visit to the villages of the farmers who
participated in the workshop, so that
the external experts could get a better
understanding of the field conditions.
The final decision on any collaborative
project between ACISAI, the external
agency, VTDC and Uttaradit farmers is
likely to be taken in December 2017.
Ms. Nalawadee X of Olam
International with Dr Abha Mishra,
Team Leader, SRI-LMB project, during
the visit to Ubon Ratchathani province
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Visit to Bua Ngam Community Rice
Center, Ubon Ratchathani
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Field visit and workshop with VTDC,
Uttaradit
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
Field visit in the BRIA-Olam International
operational area
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
National Review and Planning Workshop in Cambodia
The NRPW of the SRI-LMB project,
Cambodia, was held on 28th
November 2017. There were nearly 50
participants, with about 15 women.
Besides the staff involved with project
implementation from the General
Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and
representatives of partner
organizations (FAO and Oxfam
America), there were participants from
two NGOs, HEKS (Swiss Church Aid) and
FIDR (Foundation for International
Development/Relief), headquartered
in Switzerland and Japan, respectively,
and Multi Angles Center Co. Ltd., a
Cambodian private consultancy
company working with rural
development.
Mr. Kea Kong, Country Coordinator of
the project, welcomed the
participants to the workshop. He
provided a quick update of the project
framework and work done from 2014 to
2017, from setting up CFPARs and
implementation of FPARs, to the last
activity of training selected farmers on
poultry management.
Mr. Ashwin Mysore from ACISAI
brought the participants up to date
with the major project milestones in
2017.
Dr. Mak Souen, Deputy Director
General of the GDA, noted that several
gains, including yield enhancement,
resulted from the project in Cambodia.
He said SRI was especially useful for
seed production.
Ms. AlmaLinda Abubakar of the FAO
recollected her discussion with Dr. Ngin
Chhay, Director of Department of Rice
Crop, about how the SRI-LMB project
differed from other SRI-related activities
in Cambodia. The project approach
emphasized and facilitated farmer
experimentation with the various SRI
practices rather than simply
encouraging them to adopt them all as
a package.
Presentations by provincial project
teams, farmer representatives and
researchers involved with the
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
(MEL) surveys provided insights into
several gains made from SRI adoption
by FPAR farmers, including increased
yields and decreased inputs, which
overall helped in increasing the
profitability for rice growers. They also
highlighted some of the factors which
could help in promoting SRI practices
better. While some activities, like better
planning of the training sessions and
capacity building of the project staff
are easier to handle, the labor shortage
discussed as a key constraint to
adoption of SRI practices, is not.
Dr. Sophal Chuong, the MEL
researcher, noted that while labor
shortage was indeed a reality, about
60% of the farmers were smallholders,
owning less than one-hectare area;
such farmers, if convinced about the
utility of SRI practices and were open
to making some changes, like
extending their agricultural work over
a longer period of time, and
cooperating with other farmers, could
still adopt the beneficial SRI practices.
Opportunities for activities to promote
scaling up SRI practices hence exist
and are required in the country.
Mr. Vanny of Oxfam America noted
that the rural service provider teams
being supported by Oxfam, which are
already operational in two provinces,
could be useful to tackle the labor
shortage which constrains SRI
adoption.
Dr. Ngin Chhay catalyzed an active
discussion on the varying perception
about the extent of SRI adoption in the
country among various stakeholders.
A significant point emerged that this
difference is rooted in whether one
thought of the SRI practices as a
package to be adopted in its entirety
or not. For some, an SRI farmer is one
who adopts all 12 practices defined as
SRI practices in Cambodia by CEDAC.
Such people do not recognize partial
adoption of the practices and hence,
discount the spread of SRI. But, several
participants argued, the farmers
adopted selected beneficial practices
from the SRI suite depending on their
situation and experiences. And this
counted as SRI adoption too.
The participants also identified several
activities that are important for
consideration in the post-project
period. These included: working with
SRP standards, encouraging SRI
practices among seed producers,
linking farmers to better rice markets
through contract farming, promoting
ecological practices and varietal trials
to enhance resilience of farms and
farmers, demonstrating SRI practices
over a large, contiguous area, and
conducting trials to better understand
options for mechanizing rice
cultivation.
Page 7 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
Field visits during the NRPW
(Photo credits: SRI-LMB/AIT)
(Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
bnn
Supporting Landless and Women under SRI-LMB project in Cambodia
The SRI-LMB project supported training
of landless households and women
farmers in poultry management. The
activity was aimed at strengthening the
skills of and create additional
opportunities for the trainees to improve
their household income. A total of 150
individuals, 89 of them women, in 10
villages across the three project
provinces were trained by Farmer
Trainers. The project provided a wire
cage with 15 chicks, a hen and a
rooster for demonstration at every
training venue. Each of the trainees
received 15 chicks and a wire cage.
The Farmers Field School approach of
discovery-based learning was
adopted. Nine training sessions were
planned from July to December 2017.
Together, they covered all aspects of
poultry raising, from incubation and
hatching of eggs to construction of
small cages for raising birds; from pest
and disease management and feeding
practices to economic analysis of the
enterprise. A monitoring visit was
conducted by a team consisting of the
SRI-LMB project staff province on the
day of the visit.
from Cambodia and ACISAI in
September 2017. Fourteen trainees,
eight of them women, were being
trained at Bakkod village in Takeo. The
sixth training session focused on
vaccination against poultry diseases.
After delivering the theoretical part of
the training using visual aids, the farmer
trainers ensured that all participants
gained first-hand experience in
vaccinating the birds. They had been
vaccinated against new castle disease
previously and as part of the present
training, received a second dose
against fowl pox.
Experience of Cambodian farmers with SRI adoption
The monitoring team also utilized the
opportunity to visit project farmers in six
villages in the provinces of Takeo,
Kampot and Kampong Speu to
understand some of their experiences
with adoption of SRI practices.
Transplanting younger, fewer seedlings
per hill at a wider spacing along a row
was most commonly associated with
SRI by the farmers. The time of onset of
rains was an important factor in
determining the age of seedling
transplanted; delayed rains meant
transplanting aged rather than
younger seedlings. The farmers
reduced planting distance in case of
lower soil fertility and higher age of
seedlings available for transplanting.
The farmers identified several benefits
of SRI, including:
 Advantage of identifying off type
plants easily, which is important for
seed production
 Reduced seed costs because of
lower seed usage
 Decreased costs of transporting
seedlings from nursery to main field
 Higher yields (by 20 to 30%, though
other factors like soil type and rainfall
received also influence)
 A healthier crop.
A project funded by the European Union A project implemented by the Asian Institute of Technology
Find us at:
https://www.facebook.com/sri.lmb
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5P9MFLsKIbshwMDY918XXw
http://www.slideshare.net/srilmb/
https://plus.google.con/photos/100435612470757772541/albums
http://www.scoop.it/t/sri-lm
SRI-LMB Newsletter is published bi-annually by
SRI-LMB Publications Unit. We welcome your input,
preferably in English.
The deadline for submissions is on 30 May for June
issue and 30 November for December issue.
We reserve the right to edit all contributions.
Please send inputs at srilmb@ait.asia and cc to
Dr. Abha Mishra, Project Manager-SRI-LMB
(abhamishra@ait.asia).
Website: www.sri-lmb.ait.asia
The view expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
Additional benefits of the FPAR training
were visible too. For e.g. the FPAR
farmers were more conscious about
using better quality seeds. They tried to
increase the organic manure
application to their lands.
The SRI practices that the Cambodian
farmers find to be useful are centered
around transplanting seedlings. The
farmers reflected that decision on
whether to transplant or not is based on
factors like availability of water source
(which is used for inundating fields for
weed management), location of land
in the lower slopes (which encourages
transplanting) and access to adequate
labor at reasonable costs, with the latter
being very influential.

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SRI-LMB NEWSLETTER

  • 1. IN FOCUS IN THIS ISSUE The ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) framework and Strategic Plan of Action (2015-2020) recommends introduction of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Conservation Agriculture integrated practices as a Climate-Smart agriculture to address the emerging issues related to food security, the SRI-LMB project intervention in the Lower Mekong River Basin countries can be seen as a very timely initiative. Utilizing the implementing consortia of the Project, which are functional at the local, national and regional level, so far, the field activities were conducted at >500 Farmers’ Participatory Action Research (FPAR) sites involving more than 12,000 farmers in 33 districts of 11 provinces across all four countries (3 in Cambodia, 3 in Lao PDR, 3 in Thailand and 2 in Vietnam). More than 500 field experiments and locally-suited SRI demonstration plots were set up by farmers for the development of low-cost technological options mostly in rainfed production systems using SRI principles. The results reported so far were clustered under three performance indicators: 1) improved farmer livelihoods (productivity, profitability and labour productivity; 2) resource use efficiency (water productivity, inorganic fertilizer use efficiency, and total energy input); and 3) climate change mitigation (greenhouse gas emission reduction), where possible, and were compared with the baseline scenario. The results showed that SRI practices helped to improve livelihoods across the LMB region by increasing rice yield (66% w.r.t. baseline) and net returns (70% w.r.t. baseline). National Review and Planning Workshop (NRPW) Vietnam Page 2 Field mission to review status of FPAR implementation in Laos Page 5 Page 3-4 Further it showed that the labour use efficiency increased (66% w.r.t. baseline) with SRI practice along with higher water productivity (59% w.r.t. baseline) and inorganic fertilizer use efficiency. At the regional level, 31 Kg of paddy was produced per Kg of inorganic fertilizer applied, whereas it was 11 kg in the baseline figure. The total energy input in farming decreased by 37%. With respect to greenhouse gas emission reduction, the results reported 16% and 13% reduction in total greenhouse gas emission from rainfed and irrigated areas respectively compared to the baseline figures. Therefore, it was clear that there is a potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging adoption of SRI practices. The SRI intervention provides opportunities to address the food security, climate change adaptation and achievement of sustainable development goal in a more complementary way. Sustaining ecosystems and their services, creating more with less, accelerating access and integrating the poorest are possible through this kind intervention. Some of the results have been shared at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwAN D94jB80zZG5SSFZMZWJYUWc Continuing support for the SRI- LMB FPAR women groups in Bac Giang, Vietnam Page 3-4 Building on SRI-LMB Project experience Page 6 A project funded by the European Union A project implemented by the Asian Institute of Technology The view expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission. Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 National review and planning workshop, Cambodia Page 7 Page 7 Supporting landless and woman under SRI-LMB project in Cambodia Page 8 The System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Delivering Food Security without Increasing Pressure on the Environment SRI, farmer plot in Champagne district, Savannakhet province, Lao PDR (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
  • 2. , The National Review and Planning Workshop (NRPW) of SRI-LMB project in Vietnam, was held at Ha Tinh, on 17th August 2017. There were about 40 to 45 participants including staff from Plant Protection Department (PPD), research institutes, SRI-LMB project personnel, FAO and project farmers. Mr. Tran Van Hieu, Country Coordinator introduced the SRI-LMB project implementation in Vietnam to the participants and welcomed them to the workshop. From 2015 to 2017, the project worked directly with 2160 farmers. Data analysis shows that the average yields from SRI demonstrations in Bac Giang and Ha Tinh provinces were higher by 0.6-1.2 and 0.16-0.36 T/ha, respectively, compared to control plots. Since SRI plots also required lower expenditures, the net returns were higher by USD 267- 392 and 109-131, in Bac Giang and Ha Tinh, respectively. Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong, Vice Director General, PPD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), recounted the gains that have been made since the SRI practices were declared as a Technical Advance in 2007. Today, nearly 2 million farmers adopt these practices (including partial adoption). SRI is highly relevant for addressing the current agricultural problems of the country, like high input usage and costs of cultivation, pesticide residues on farm produce and the looming risks of climate change. Dr. Hoang Van Phu who coordinates the SRI Network in Vietnam, explained that in 2015, SRI practices were adopted by farmers in 35 provinces on about 500000 ha. A key problem for wider adoption was the non-availability of a proper weeding tool. Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong discussed the possibility of including weeding as one of the services offered by the service- provider teams supported by the PPD, which currently can be hired by farmers to spray pesticides on their fields. The SRI Network of Vietnam, initiated in 2015, National Review and Planning Workshop in Vietnam Participants at NRPW, Vietnam (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) now has more than 20 organizations, with about 60 individuals Members include organizations like PPD of MARD, NGOs like Oxfam and individual researchers. Ms. Alma Linda Abubakar, from the FAO discussed the details of their Save and Grow Campaign. With supportive case studies from Vietnam and Philippines, she drew the attention of the participants to how the integration of rice and aquaculture production systems can offer more benefits to the rice farmers. There was a significant discussion on how SRI practices could be scaled up in the two provinces. The main ideas concerned integrating useful SRI practices into regular department work of advising farmers; developing research and communication outputs based on project experience for various stakeholders; demonstrating SRI practices on a large area; motivating farmers to influence their peers; and integrating these practices in other programmes where possible. Staff from both provinces expressed the possibility of mobilizing some of the funds required for scaling up through the local budgets already available, by integrating SRI promotional activities into their regular work. During his closing remarks, Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong expressed that the government is interested in ensuring that the activities continue even after the project ends. The PPD will encourage and support development of plans for scaling up SRI. Where possible, SRI promotion will be integrated into regular activities of the department and other projects being implemented (e.g. WB6 project; IPM projects). PPD will attempt to convince provincial governments to provide funds earmarked for agricultural extension to scale up SRI. The department will soon be initiating a project on rice value chain development, which also allows opportunity for integrating SRI promotion among farmers. Approaching National Agricultural Extension Center can be another opportunity to obtain funding for the activities, including SRI promotion and integrating it with aquaculture. Opening remarks by Mr. Nguyen Quy Duong, Vice Director General, PPD, MARD (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Page 2 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017
  • 3. 3 Page 3 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 Continuing support for the SRI-LMB FPAR women groups in Bac Giang province, Vietnam The SRI-LMB project is continuing to support women groups who were involved with the Farmer Participatory Action Research (FPAR) activities in three communes of Bac Giang province, Vietnam. The implementation of the activities over a one-year period until February 2018 is being facilitated by the Center for Initiatives for Community Empowerment on Rural Development (ICERD). Project funding is routed through our key partner, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Several studies have shown increasing outmigration of the Vietnamese women from rural to urban areas over the last three decades, due to both working and non-working reasons. But this does not seem to hold good for our project areas. Women participants outnumbered men farmers in the FPAR activities. In 2017, about 85% of the total 720 farmers directly involved with the FPAR activities were women. Many of these women farmers from Bac Giang province had met the participants of the Regional Review and Planning Workshop (RRPW) during the field visit organized in April 2017. They had explained that adoption of SRI practices benefited them, by reducing costs and increasing yields. Regarding pesticide usage, while their input usage had decreased, they still considered that inorganic pesticides provided better pest control. In the subsequent NRPW in August, several participants expressed that the demonstration of SRI practices over a large, contiguous area could be significant in convincing more farmers about the benefits of SRI practices. The ICERD project considers many of the above issues. Through surveys and workshops with active involvement of the FPAR women farmers and other community members, including the Commune People’s Committee, it has documented detailed, relevant information on the challenges faced by the farmers in adopting and extending SRI practices; current practices and extent of pesticide application; and gender roles and responsibilities in the farming households. Activities planned under the project include:  Raising public awareness about the negative externalities caused by indiscriminate pesticide usage  Facilitation of experimentation by women farmers in using biological agents and botanical pesticides  Training women farmers on preparing botanical pesticides and using straw bio- mats to better capture the nutrients from animal waste  Demonstration of the SRI practices in a large, 5 to 10-hectare plot by mobilizing the land owners  Involving the women groups in trials for growing potato on harvested rice plots with minimum tillage These activities are expected to encourage adoption of more eco-friendly agricultural practices by the women farmers, and stimulate adoption of SRI practices by other community members in the short-term. The field activities are complemented with plans for policy advocacy. The project experiences will be presented to the Commune People’s Committee so that they could be considered for inclusion in their work plan for sustainable agriculture development, with the larger farming communities. Successful outputs will also be shared with the PPD and MARD. Photo credit: ICERD Photo credit: ICERD Photo credit: ICERD
  • 4. Page 4 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 Workload sharing in farming households, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam Recent research led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (2017) critically examines four conventionally accepted ideas concerning women and agriculture, all linked to food security: that they bear a higher burden of poverty, have minimal access to land, are intrinsically better in environmental stewardship and make a higher contribution to food production. The nuanced analysis is helpful in designing better programmes to reach out to women farmers. While dissecting the idea that women farmers produce 60 to 80% of all food, the researchers note the paucity of data to justify the claim. They state that ‘better data on women’s and men’s labor in agriculture and household production are critical in designing policies to promote food security. One of the workshops facilitated by ICERD specifically examined this issue. The simple exercise consisted of women and men participants collectively allocating the percentage household workload shared by women and men related to specific activities. Rice production system was broken down into 21 key activities, raising children and household management into six activities each, and miscellaneous tasks into 12 major activities. Percentage workload shared by Activities Men Women Together Dong Phu Commune Crop production 39 55 6 Taking care of children 31 59 10 Household jobs 15 72 13 Miscellaneous tasks 39 50 11 Tan Thinh Commune Crop production 31 62 7 Taking care of children 35 63 2 Household jobs 21 77 2 Miscellaneous tasks 36 60 4 Tan Hiep Commune Crop production 31 45 25 Taking care of children 27 65 8 Household jobs 42 56 2 Miscellaneous tasks 45 50 5 Photo credit: ICERD The above table provides the average percentage of workload on women and men. All the three communes, women’s share of the workload was more than that of men for all activities. In case of rice farming, in general, excepting for the tasks like leveling land, ploughing, deciding on which pesticide to buy and reading the label on the container, women were involved more in all other tasks, from purchasing inputs to spraying pesticides and selling produce.
  • 5. Page 5 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 ACISAI, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the SRI-LMB project team in Laos, planned and took part in a project review mission in October 2017. The key mission objectives were: verification of FPAR implementation status in Laos in 2017; holding discussions with District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO) officials to better understand issues related to project implementation; and, collecting information and data concerning crop growth and development from FPAR sites visited. The mission team visited 25 FPAR sites in eight districts in three provinces. Discussions were held with DAFO officials in eight districts; and with the Farmer Trainers and District Trainers in nine districts across Khammaouane, Savannakhet and Vientiane. At the time of field visit, 59 percent of the FPAR sites were already said to have been harvested in eight of the nine districts. No harvesting had begun in Fouang FPAR plots since the farmers were said to have delayed planting because of late onset of rains. Most of the FPAR sites visited had mature grains ready for harvest in both SRI and Farmer Practice (FP) plots. In SRI plots, transplanting single young seedlings (13 to 23 days old) at wider spacing (mostly 25 x 25 cm) was most common. In FP plots, farmers most commonly transplanted multiple (up to 7) older (14 to 28 days) seedlings per hill using lower spacing (mostly 20x20 cm.) Lower seed usage, increased tillering, better panicle growth with more grain filling and improved grain quality, potential to use grains as seeds, increased yields and reduced costs were among the advantages of SRI pointed out by the FTs and farmers. Some considered transplanting to be easier with SRI (less area needed for nursery raising, easier uprooting of seedlings, faster transplanting due to wider spacing which also saved time) while others thought transplanting younger seedlings at wider spacing, especially when using hired labor, was difficult, more time consuming and costly. Higher weed incidence and risks of young single seedlings being destroyed by snails or rotting in case of flooding after transplanting, leading to more gaps and lower yields, were the main concerns related to SRI adoption. For the FPAR sites where data was collected, projected yield per hectare based on farmer estimates showed that for the 13 FPAR sites where comparison was possible, the yields of SRI and FP plots could be equal at one site; at six sites, SRI plots could yield more and in the remaining six, the FP plots may. But in case of the latter, four of the six plots reported crop damage due to snails and diseases. Field mission to review status of FPAR implementation in Laos Mr. Kongsy Xayavong, National Training Coordinator, SRI-LMB project, Laos, in discussion with the farmers (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Ms. Vanny, Farmer Trainer from X village, Nakai district in Khammouane province of Laos, with harvested panicles for data Collection (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Post-harvest processing of rice by a woman farmer from X village, Nakai district (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT
  • 6. Page 6 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 Building on SRI-LMB project experiences in Thailand During the Regional Review and Planning Workshop (RRPW, 2017), Ms. Ladda Viriyangkura, Senior Specialist on Rice Inspection and Certification from Thailand Rice Department, had discussed the challenges confronting the Thai farmers, the various driving forces influencing agriculture and the opportunities that could be tapped into to ensure a healthier agricultural sector, and better lives for the farming communities. The country’s Development Plan for Agriculture is part of the National Strategy No. 3, for strengthening the economy on a sustainable basis. It emphasizes conservation and management of natural resources including water and soils, increasing their use-efficiency, and focusing on strengthening forward and backward linkages in agriculture. The strategy outlined by Ms. Ladda involved working with all relevant stakeholders, from farmers to private sector and consumers, to make agriculture profitable for everyone concerned. And it considered not only working with more efficient and sustainable rice production systems, but also value addition, and ensuring produce quality and traceability, all of which could help in better price realization by farmers. While scaling up SRI remains a priority for ACISAI, enhancing the center’s scope of work to include other ecological approaches, and issues like certification and marketing, could be useful. Post RRPW, two activities undertaken by the center staff are aligned along this interest. In September 2017, the Team Leader and the Action Research Coordinator of SRI-LMB project were part of a group visiting two Community Resource Centers (CRC) in Ubon Ratchathani province. The objective was to better understand the project activities of Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) and Olam International. Interaction with the farmers provided insights into the gains made by the project farmers and the challenges faced. Farmer interest in tapping better markets was very clearly reflected during the visit. ACISAI also coordinated a visit by a European private development consultancy agency to Uttaradit province in November 2017. The implementation partner in SRI-LMB project, the Vocational Training and Development Center for Thai People along the Border Areas (VTDC), organized a workshop with farmers from two villages. The potential idea of experimenting with an alternative ecological approach in rice cultivation linked to produce procurement was discussed during this Event. This was followed by a one-day field visit to the villages of the farmers who participated in the workshop, so that the external experts could get a better understanding of the field conditions. The final decision on any collaborative project between ACISAI, the external agency, VTDC and Uttaradit farmers is likely to be taken in December 2017. Ms. Nalawadee X of Olam International with Dr Abha Mishra, Team Leader, SRI-LMB project, during the visit to Ubon Ratchathani province (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Visit to Bua Ngam Community Rice Center, Ubon Ratchathani (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Field visit and workshop with VTDC, Uttaradit (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT) Field visit in the BRIA-Olam International operational area (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
  • 7. National Review and Planning Workshop in Cambodia The NRPW of the SRI-LMB project, Cambodia, was held on 28th November 2017. There were nearly 50 participants, with about 15 women. Besides the staff involved with project implementation from the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and representatives of partner organizations (FAO and Oxfam America), there were participants from two NGOs, HEKS (Swiss Church Aid) and FIDR (Foundation for International Development/Relief), headquartered in Switzerland and Japan, respectively, and Multi Angles Center Co. Ltd., a Cambodian private consultancy company working with rural development. Mr. Kea Kong, Country Coordinator of the project, welcomed the participants to the workshop. He provided a quick update of the project framework and work done from 2014 to 2017, from setting up CFPARs and implementation of FPARs, to the last activity of training selected farmers on poultry management. Mr. Ashwin Mysore from ACISAI brought the participants up to date with the major project milestones in 2017. Dr. Mak Souen, Deputy Director General of the GDA, noted that several gains, including yield enhancement, resulted from the project in Cambodia. He said SRI was especially useful for seed production. Ms. AlmaLinda Abubakar of the FAO recollected her discussion with Dr. Ngin Chhay, Director of Department of Rice Crop, about how the SRI-LMB project differed from other SRI-related activities in Cambodia. The project approach emphasized and facilitated farmer experimentation with the various SRI practices rather than simply encouraging them to adopt them all as a package. Presentations by provincial project teams, farmer representatives and researchers involved with the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) surveys provided insights into several gains made from SRI adoption by FPAR farmers, including increased yields and decreased inputs, which overall helped in increasing the profitability for rice growers. They also highlighted some of the factors which could help in promoting SRI practices better. While some activities, like better planning of the training sessions and capacity building of the project staff are easier to handle, the labor shortage discussed as a key constraint to adoption of SRI practices, is not. Dr. Sophal Chuong, the MEL researcher, noted that while labor shortage was indeed a reality, about 60% of the farmers were smallholders, owning less than one-hectare area; such farmers, if convinced about the utility of SRI practices and were open to making some changes, like extending their agricultural work over a longer period of time, and cooperating with other farmers, could still adopt the beneficial SRI practices. Opportunities for activities to promote scaling up SRI practices hence exist and are required in the country. Mr. Vanny of Oxfam America noted that the rural service provider teams being supported by Oxfam, which are already operational in two provinces, could be useful to tackle the labor shortage which constrains SRI adoption. Dr. Ngin Chhay catalyzed an active discussion on the varying perception about the extent of SRI adoption in the country among various stakeholders. A significant point emerged that this difference is rooted in whether one thought of the SRI practices as a package to be adopted in its entirety or not. For some, an SRI farmer is one who adopts all 12 practices defined as SRI practices in Cambodia by CEDAC. Such people do not recognize partial adoption of the practices and hence, discount the spread of SRI. But, several participants argued, the farmers adopted selected beneficial practices from the SRI suite depending on their situation and experiences. And this counted as SRI adoption too. The participants also identified several activities that are important for consideration in the post-project period. These included: working with SRP standards, encouraging SRI practices among seed producers, linking farmers to better rice markets through contract farming, promoting ecological practices and varietal trials to enhance resilience of farms and farmers, demonstrating SRI practices over a large, contiguous area, and conducting trials to better understand options for mechanizing rice cultivation. Page 7 Volume 5, Issue 2: Year 2017 Field visits during the NRPW (Photo credits: SRI-LMB/AIT) (Photo credit: SRI-LMB/AIT)
  • 8. bnn Supporting Landless and Women under SRI-LMB project in Cambodia The SRI-LMB project supported training of landless households and women farmers in poultry management. The activity was aimed at strengthening the skills of and create additional opportunities for the trainees to improve their household income. A total of 150 individuals, 89 of them women, in 10 villages across the three project provinces were trained by Farmer Trainers. The project provided a wire cage with 15 chicks, a hen and a rooster for demonstration at every training venue. Each of the trainees received 15 chicks and a wire cage. The Farmers Field School approach of discovery-based learning was adopted. Nine training sessions were planned from July to December 2017. Together, they covered all aspects of poultry raising, from incubation and hatching of eggs to construction of small cages for raising birds; from pest and disease management and feeding practices to economic analysis of the enterprise. A monitoring visit was conducted by a team consisting of the SRI-LMB project staff province on the day of the visit. from Cambodia and ACISAI in September 2017. Fourteen trainees, eight of them women, were being trained at Bakkod village in Takeo. The sixth training session focused on vaccination against poultry diseases. After delivering the theoretical part of the training using visual aids, the farmer trainers ensured that all participants gained first-hand experience in vaccinating the birds. They had been vaccinated against new castle disease previously and as part of the present training, received a second dose against fowl pox. Experience of Cambodian farmers with SRI adoption The monitoring team also utilized the opportunity to visit project farmers in six villages in the provinces of Takeo, Kampot and Kampong Speu to understand some of their experiences with adoption of SRI practices. Transplanting younger, fewer seedlings per hill at a wider spacing along a row was most commonly associated with SRI by the farmers. The time of onset of rains was an important factor in determining the age of seedling transplanted; delayed rains meant transplanting aged rather than younger seedlings. The farmers reduced planting distance in case of lower soil fertility and higher age of seedlings available for transplanting. The farmers identified several benefits of SRI, including:  Advantage of identifying off type plants easily, which is important for seed production  Reduced seed costs because of lower seed usage  Decreased costs of transporting seedlings from nursery to main field  Higher yields (by 20 to 30%, though other factors like soil type and rainfall received also influence)  A healthier crop. A project funded by the European Union A project implemented by the Asian Institute of Technology Find us at: https://www.facebook.com/sri.lmb https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5P9MFLsKIbshwMDY918XXw http://www.slideshare.net/srilmb/ https://plus.google.con/photos/100435612470757772541/albums http://www.scoop.it/t/sri-lm SRI-LMB Newsletter is published bi-annually by SRI-LMB Publications Unit. We welcome your input, preferably in English. The deadline for submissions is on 30 May for June issue and 30 November for December issue. We reserve the right to edit all contributions. Please send inputs at srilmb@ait.asia and cc to Dr. Abha Mishra, Project Manager-SRI-LMB (abhamishra@ait.asia). Website: www.sri-lmb.ait.asia The view expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission. Additional benefits of the FPAR training were visible too. For e.g. the FPAR farmers were more conscious about using better quality seeds. They tried to increase the organic manure application to their lands. The SRI practices that the Cambodian farmers find to be useful are centered around transplanting seedlings. The farmers reflected that decision on whether to transplant or not is based on factors like availability of water source (which is used for inundating fields for weed management), location of land in the lower slopes (which encourages transplanting) and access to adequate labor at reasonable costs, with the latter being very influential.