The story of the discovery of SRI (System of Rice Intensification) begins in the Indian Ocean.
As you learned if you read that, the French Jesuit priest Father Henri de Laulanié was sent by his order to Madagascar in 1961 to do mission work. But he fig-ured out quickly that he needed first to deal with the local poverty and hunger, and that rice, the staple food on the island, was the key to doing that.
For twenty years he watched local farmers, studied their planting methods and their harvests, experimented on his own with various growing techniques, and slowly developed a number of unconventional ideas about rice culture that began proving themselves in larger and larger local harvests.
By 1983 he was teaching Madagascar farmers to use his SRI system, and in 1990 created an organization, the Association Tefy Saina, to spread his ideas. ‘Tefy Saina’ is a Malagasy term meaning ‘to improve the mind’. But progress was slow. In 1990 Laulanié also gave a couple of seminars on his approach at the Uni-versity of Madagascar, but it was not taken seriously. He died in 1997.
Without the help of a thoughtful and determined American professor the potential of SRI in transforming small peasant agriculture would still be largely un-recognized.
[Read more…] about Norman Uphoff: Spreading Crop Intensification Around the World