System of Rice Intensification in Central India

Location: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh

System of Rice Intensification (SRI) includes a method called Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) which is a form of controlled or intermittent irrigation of the rice crops. The farmers switch cultivation practices from continuous flooding of rice paddies to intermittent flooding, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our SRI programme of activities in rice fields across India is significant as rice is the staple food for over 65% of the population. Rice irrigation consumes about 24-30% of the world’s accessible freshwater resources. India has the world’s largest rice cultivated area and is amid a water crisis. Added to that, irrigated rice production is a major anthropogenic source of the greenhouse gas methane. The programme seeks to develop a system of improved water management that can always reduce methane emissions during the rice-growing season, by at least 30% compared to the conventional practices.

Background of Project

With the burgeoning population in India, the demand for the staple crop: rice, is expected to rise exponentially. Conversely, because of anthropogenic interventions, the area under rice cultivation may reduce drastically in the next decade. To keep up with the demand, practices that increase rice yield and productivity using reduced resources are the need of the hour. Our SRI programme is a step in that direction.

Location: Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

The Project

Starting with a pilot of 500 farmers, the programme will expand to around 34,000 farmers. Farmers will switch from conventional continuous flooding of rice paddies to intermittent flooding. The technology comprises a simple perforated field water tube made of PVC or bamboo, which is inserted into the soil in the paddy areas and water levels are measured and controlled by monitoring the tubes.

The Benefits

The benefits from the programme include reduction in methane emissions from traditional rice cultivation, and significant reduction in water consumption. The crop yields are maintained and not affected negatively, and the programme leads to the creation of community organisation and strengthening of networks through the formation of farmer groups. Typically, farmers use diesel to pump large amounts of water to flood their fields. With intermittent flooding, water pumps are run for shorter periods of time, reducing fuel consumption.