Chapter 27: LEADERSHIP FROM NATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
In a well-organized world, one would expect that countries’ agricultural research institutions would take the lead in evaluating SRI. Then if SRI is found to offer significant advantages, it is expected that the countries’ respective agricultural extension systems will pick up the innovation and spread the knowledge about the innovation to all who could benefit it.
As seen in this chapter, this process was followed in some countries but not in most. This chapter starts with a review of experience in China, where some of its agricultural research institutions followed this normative route. China and India have been the countries where the contribution of agricultural research institutions in evaluating SRI has been greatest, although the role of research institutes has been significant in some other countries as well. The different experiences and roles of countries’ research institutions in dealing with SRI have played a major part in accounting for how the history of SRI varies among countries.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN CHINA
After researchers at Nanjing Agricultural University had conducted the first tests of SRI methods in China In 1999-2000, both the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center headed by Professor Yuan Longping (Chapter 21) and senior researchers at the China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI) in Hangzhou undertook their own evaluations. Once satisfied with his results, Professor Yuan got research institutions in Sichuan Province to try SRI methods, starting with the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) and the Sichuan Agricultural University.
In eastern China where the CNRRI is located in Zhejiang province, after getting positive results with SRI methods in 2000-2001, senior researchers, particularly Zhu Defeng and Lin Xianqing with the support of their director-general Cheng Shihua, started working with the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Agriculture to disseminate SRI knowledge and practices there. One of the outstanding farmers with whom CNRRI staff worked in Tiantai county, Nie Fuqiu, was profiled in the preceding chapter. Extension work with SRI methods started about the same time in Sichuan province.
In March 2003, Zhu and Lin organized and hosted in Hangzhou an all-China meeting of rice researchers to share information on SRI, sponsored by CNRRI in cooperation with Cornell (CIIFAD). At this meeting, an informal national SRI network was established, with Zhu designated as its coordinator. He thus became the main link between Chinese researchers and the worldwide SRI community.
In 2006, with colleagues at several other institutions in China, Zhu put together, edited and published a book on SRI in Chinese. Then in 2006 and 2007, Lin and Zhu conducted research evaluating SRI methods that produced some of the most important and conclusive results on SRI advantages, published in 2009 and discussed in Chapter 9 and again in the next chapter.
In 2010, after plans for presenting SRI ideas to rice researchers in North Korea (DPRK) fell through, Zhu and Lin organized a workshop on SRI with CIIFAD and hosted it in Hangzhou. Four rice specialists from the DPRK came and met with Chinese counterparts and myself to learn about SRI opportunities. Below is the official photograph of workshop participants.
In Sichuan province, the most active catalysts for SRI were Zheng Jiaguo and Lu Shihua, both senior researchers in the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences. After learning about SRI from Prof. Yuan Long-ping in 2001, they evaluated its methods in their respective departments of the SAAS. Once satisfied with SRI’s effectiveness, they began assisting the Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture to spread SRI within their province. As noted in Chapter 9, Department data showed SRI use expanding in Sichuan between 2004 and 2012 from 1,133 hectares to 383,533 hectares, one of SRI’s most rapid increases. Beyond 2012, the Sichuan Department of Agriculture stopped collecting separate statistics on SRI because these practices were becoming widely used.
One unusual feature of the SAAS involvement with SRI was that after Lu Shihua found farmers to be quite enthusiastic about the new methods, together with some colleagues at the China Agricultural University in Beijing, he encouraged Sichuan farmers to establish a membership organization for SRI, a kind of farmer NGO that promoted SRI use with raised beds and plastic film cover (Chapter 20).
The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing is China’s overarching national research institution for the agricultural sector. In 2001, the president of Nanjing Agricultural University, Zhai Huqu, who had encouraged the first SRI trials at his university, was appointed as the president of CAAS. In 2004, at a CNRRI conference held in Hangzhou for the UN‘s International Year of Rice, Zhai told me that the Academy had included SRI in its recent recommendations for improving the rice sector, as one of the six designated elements of the CAAS-recommended program.
However, SRI was never given much push from the center. The explanation given was that in China, agricultural policies and priorities are set at the provincial level, not at the national level. So although a number of provincial academies of agricultural science and departments of agriculture got involved with SRI research and extension after 2002, the greatest activity around SRI remained in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces where research institute scientists had undertaken studies to validate and adapt SRI and then had worked closely with their provincial extension services to spread its use.
Zhu Defeng told a workshop on SRI at IRRI’s World Rice Research Conference in Tsukuba, Japan in 2004 that SRI was spreading in China in part because it was consistent with several trends that had been emerging in Chinese rice production during recent decades, influenced by a shortage of rural labor and by the spread of hybrid varieties: (a) reduced density of plants per m2, (b) reduced water applications, implementing an irrigation cycle of shallow irrigation-moist soil-dry soil, and (c) younger age of seedlings.
SRI brought to rice farmers’ attention also the value of transplanting younger seedlings and the value of organic soil fertilization. The methods that Prof. Yuan recommended for using his hybrid rice in China included planting younger, single seedlings, and using less irrigation water, core practices of SRI. SRI methods mobilized more fully the potential of hybrid rice varieties for greater tillering and larger panicles, which was enhanced by the heterosis effect of hybridization.
Unfortunately, because of labor constraints in rural areas, neither farmers nor researchers pursued the yield gains achievable through active soil aeration by controlling weeds with mechanical weeders. Instead, herbicides were utilized because of their lower labor requirements. Also, these constraints made using chemical fertilizers more attractive than organic means of soil fertilization. SRI gave some beneficial impetus for increasing the latter, but rice farmers in China generally continued to apply N fertilizer, often several times more than was known to be optimum. This raised costs, lowered yield, reduced soil and water quality, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
In rice research institutions in China like elsewhere, attention and investments were focused mostly on making improvements in crop genetic potentials rather than on promoting better management practices. This kept most research institutions in China from giving much push to SRI even though the results of SRI evaluations warranted this. Even so, already by 2012 it was reported that SRI area in China had reached 900,000 hectares, up from 200,000 hectares five years earlier.
As the innovation spread, its use has become less rigorous, and its principles have not been clearly articulated and comprehended. Fortunately, there are benefits from SRI methods even if not used fully or carefully. A meta-analysis of all the published research by Chinese rice scientists that compared SRI results with their own preferred best management practices (BMP) found that ‘good’ use of SRI methods, not necessarily full utilization of SRI recommendations, gave average yields 20% higher than whatever the researchers considered as BMP, while achieving significant savings of water and other resources. On average, all the trials that had reported on ‘SRI’ results gave an average yield 11% higher than from BMP. ‘Full’ use of the methods gave a considerably greater improvement in yield than this.
OTHER AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN EAST ASIA
The National Agricultural and Food Research Organization (NARO) based in Tsukuba paid some attention to SRI partly because its president from 2007 to 2014, Dr. Takeo Horie, had taken an interest in SRI while he was previously a professor of agricultural sciences at the University of Kyoto.
Horie, a well-known rice scientist who had served on WARDA’s board of directors, wrote about SRI as early as 2005 and sent a PhD student to Madagascar to do thesis research on SRI. However, for NARO researchers, SRI remained more a matter of a curiosity than a subject for serious research. On the other hand, the Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), also located in Tsukuba, had some ongoing interest in SRI, with several publications although no active promotion.
Korea and Taiwan
Here as in Japan, rice yields were already quite high, and rice production was subsidized by governments. So, there was little public-sector interest in SRI because SRI was known mostly for its yield-increasing characteristics. Attaining higher yields was not particularly valued in these two countries because rice deficits were not a big issue for them, and because increases in rice production could be expensive for the government.
In these countries there was, however, considerable interest in water-saving because water was an increasingly scarce resource in Korea and Taiwan, and there was also concern for protecting environmental quality, which has become an issue because heavy applications of fertilizers and agrochemicals have degraded the quality of both soil and water. These effects of SRI have been appreciated by some researchers at Korean and Taiwanese universities even while these effects were not attended to by these countries’ public-sector research institutions.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
Apart from the national rice research institutions in Indonesia and Philippines, discussed below, most other research institutions in the region took little interest in SRI, perhaps influenced by the attitude of the International Rice Research Institute which is based in Southeast Asia.
The Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) both took evident disinterest in SRI, so it was left to other institutions in Cambodia and Malaysia to get involved with this innovation.
The Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences was more interested in SRI, but it left leadership on this innovation to the government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Laos Agricultural and Forestry Research Institute hosted a national workshop on SRI in 2002, at the prompting of IRRI’s country representative, but there was no follow-up.
None of the agricultural research institutes in Thailand showed any interest in SRI until the start of the EU-funded rainfed SRI project based at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok (Chapter 8). Until this project started, Thai institutions were mostly ‘missing in action’ as far as SRI was concerned, and afterwards they showed little interest.
Here the story was different. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) hosted me at its headquarters in Muñoz for presentations on SRI in 2003 and 2004, and it conducted a number of trials of its own. However, as often observed with SRI methods, PhilRice’s on-station test results were less impressive than those being attained on farmers’ fields.
The low-lying fields used for its trials tended to be flooded much of the time, so their soils could not be kept mostly aerobic. And the previous heavy use of chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals on the test plots, as at IRRI, may have had an adverse effect on the life in the soil, which is critical for SRI success (Chapter 5). Scientists invariably consider their own results as more reliable and more conclusive than those from farmers on their own fields.
Accordingly, PhilRice was not supportive of SRI in the Philippines. In 2017, however, the Department of Agriculture sponsored a competition among 18 hybrid rice varieties. With some effort, the SRI-Pilipinas network got SRI accepted as an entrant in the competition, growing not a hybrid variety, but an inbred variety with SRI methods.
The highest hybrid yield in the contest was 8.5 tonnes per hectare, while the SRI entry with supposedly ‘inferior’ genetic material produced 6.76 tonnes per hectare, which was more was obtained from half of the hybrid entries. PhilRice’s hybrid rice entry yielded only 5.95 tonnes per hectare and came in 17th place, next to last.
Unfortunately, no cost data were collected or considered in the competition, as the SRI-Pilipinas network proposed. If economic profitability had been considered, this would have moved the SRI entry far up in the rankings, maybe to the top, because its costs of production were considerably lower than for the other competitors.
The Philippines Department of Agriculture and PhilRice continued to prioritize the promotion of hybrid rice, but with more respect for SRI. After the competition, the Department entered into an agreement with SRI-Pilipinas to do SRI training in provinces across the country and to cover these costs. This was a long hoped-for opening from the government.
The situation here was more complicated because Indonesia’s Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (AARD) is the largest and most diversified operation in the region. It was helpful that in my role as CIIFAD director I had for a decade worked closely with the AARD’s Center for Agro-Socio-Economic Research (CASER) in Bogor. Its director Dr. Effendi Pasandaran was one of the agency’s most senior and respected researchers (see mini-memoire). Pa Effendi was always able and willing to set up meetings on SRI and to arrange visits for me, even after he retired as CASER director and became a senior advisor to AARD.
Through interactions between CIIFAD and AARD, I had gotten to know also the director of AARD’s Central Research Institute for Food Crops, Dr. Achmad Fagi. Pa Fagi had previously served as the director of Indonesia’s rice research station at Sukamandi, one of the centers for Green Revolution technology development in Southeast Asia. He subsequently became the executive director of AARD and then a member of IRRI’s Board of Trustees. When in October 1997 I reviewed with Pa Fagi the results that farmers in Madagascar had gotten with SRI methods, he became quite interested and offered to convene a seminar, on two days’ notice, with AARD’s rice specialists and others.
This was the first public presentation that I made anywhere on SRI, having until this time discussed it only with close friends and associates. About 50 persons including most of the Sukamandi staff turned up in Bogor for the event. I laid out what I knew at that time and answered questions as best I could. The response that I got from the group was the same response that I subsequently would get from Professor Yuan Longping and Dr. M.S. Swaminathan (Chapter 21): Everything that you say makes sense, but it is difficult to accept the results that you are reporting.
Sixteen months later during another visit to Indonesia, I was able to make a presentation on SRI to the leadership of AARD at its headquarters in Jakarta. By this time, Dr. Fagi had become its executive director. The group agreed that SRI trials should be conducted at the Sukamandi station in the next season, and the scientist to whom this work was delegated was Dr. Anishan Gani. Maybe because of IRRI’s influence, the trials were called ‘integrated crop management’ (ICM) rather than ‘SRI.’ But they included use of young seedlings, reduced plant density, intermittent irrigation, and increased soil organic matter.
The ICM trial yields in the 1999 dry season averaged 6.2 tonnes per hectare, 50% more than was being achieved at that time by using recommended methods with the same variety on-station. In the following wet season, the ICM yields were 7.2 to 9.3 tonnes. When I visited the Sukamandi station in June 2000, I was told that the IRRI trials just a few hundred meters away had yielded 2 tonnes less per hectare, with higher cost for seeds and fertilizer.
Farmer trials with SRI methods near Sukamadi averaged 6.5 tonnes per hectare in that wet season, and one farmer reached a yield of 10.3 tonnes, the first time that a yield over 10 tonnes per hectare had been achieved in that area. Yields in the next dry and wet seasons at Sukamandi averaged 8.3 tonnes per hectare, and the government extension system began promoting ICM methods in eight provinces. The Ministry of Agriculture’s IPM program, supported by FAO, also began introducing SRI methods in several provinces, as did a number of NGOs.
This was a situation where it seemed that the different organizations working with SRI methods could benefit from having a national SRI network through which information and experiences could be shared. Accordingly, CIIFAD offered to provide the Sukamandi research station with a dedicated desktop computer so that Anischan Gani could serve as a hub for communication on SRI within Indonesia and could also link more easily with SRI colleagues in other countries. This he was eager to do. However, after the offer was made and he discussed it with the station director at Sukamandi, I stopped hearing from him, which was strange.
Before long I learned from friends in Indonesia that Anischan was too embarrassed to tell me what had happened. The Sukamandi director had not only declined to accept the offer of a computer, but had instructed Anischan to stop communicating with me by email from his station’s computers. That took the research station out of the position of leadership for SRI in Indonesia that it initially had. In Southeast Asia generally, research institutions did not play major roles in evaluating SRI and in bringing this knowledge to the attention of farmers and policy-makers.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) plays as prominent a role in India as the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences performs in China and AARD in Indonesia. Rather than each of the Indian states having its own multi-specialty research institution as is the case in Chinese provinces, where each has its own academy of agricultural sciences, ICAR has a large number of specialized subject-matter research institutions spread across the country. The ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research and the ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management both played significant roles in SRI’s gaining acceptance in India through the quality and amount of their research.
Researchers at ICAR’s Directorate of Rice Research in Hyderabad, as the ICAR-IIRR was known before 2014, joined in the WWF-supported evaluation of SRI that started in 2004 (Chapter 8), with a senior agronomist R. Mahendar Kumar playing a leading role in this undertaking. He was the first ICAR scientist to take SRI seriously, but his director, B.C. Viraktamath, was also fairly supportive of SRI evaluation.
WWF’s multi-institutional assessment involved also the state agricultural university (ANGRAU) and an international agricultural research center (ICRISAT), which made this one of the most significant scientific validations of SRI. With its own rice specialists confirming the claims made for SRI, the ICAR leadership in New Delhi became at least somewhat supportive, although it continued to favor genetic improvements over the promotion of modifications in crop management.
As discussed in Chapter 9, in response to a published critique of SRI, a senior agricultural scientist at ICAR’s Indian Institute for Water Management (IIWM), Amod Thakur, a plant physiologist by training, began his own evaluations of SRI in 2006, to ascertain whether and how SRI phenotypes could be more productive and more water-efficient than conventionally-grown rice plants, as had been reported. If SRI-grown rice plants could produce six times more grain than plants cultivated with standard methods, this was something that Amod wanted to understand as a plant physiologist.
Based on his research at the institute in Bhubaneswar, Amod published a number and variety of articles in respected journals, greatly advancing the scientific understanding of SRI. He documented many important relationships, such as the synergistic effects among SRI rice methods, fish culture, and horticulture under rainfed conditions, achievable by constructing simple catchment ponds (Chapter 20).
One of Amod’s most important findings was that compared to conventionally-grown rice plants, SRI phenotypes could fix more than twice as much carbohydrate per unit of water transpired, so that at the molecular level, SRI rice plants are quite literally producing ‘more crop per drop.’ This was a very significant result, which unfortunately was largely ignored.
A Cornell connection was important for expanding some other SRI linkages with Indian agricultural research institutes. Bhuban Barah, who got his PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell in 1992, was on the professional staff of ICAR’s National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) in New Delhi, becoming its director in 2009 before he retired from government service the next year. In 2006, he hosted an SRI meeting at his center during the 2nd International Rice Congress meeting, held in New Delhi (picture in Chapter 22), and he conducted one of the first economic evaluations of SRI.
Upon his retirement from the NCAP in 2010, Bhuban was appointed as the NABARD Chair Professor at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi. While in this position, Bhuban served for six years as chair of the National Consortium for SRI (NCS) and was able to make connections with scientists in many disciplines and institutes on behalf of SRI, working with another Cornell alumna, Dr. Rita Sharma (both are discussed in Chapter 25). Bhuban also got initiated the first scientific research on the productivity and climate-resilience of the system of wheat intensification, SWI (Chapter 14).
There were also some other scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi who undertook research on various aspects of SRI. Quite a range of publications on SRI have been produced by Anchal Dass with colleagues at IARI and earlier at G.B. Pant Agricultural University. This included research on how SRI methods biofortify rice grains with higher concentrations of micronutrients.
A senior IARI microbiologist, Radha Prasanna, examined interactions of SRI methods with the soil biota, particularly with cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Her and her colleagues’ experimental results were subsequently reinforced the findings also of Dass and Thakur that SRI methods can enhance the micronutrient content of rice grains (Chapter 11).
A research institution in India that functions outside of government and played a role in the SRI story is the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. This was established by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan with prize money that he received along with the first World Food Prize in 1987. Its evaluations of SRI effectiveness in the early to mid-2000s provided the empirical basis for his endorsements of SRI that are reported in Chapter 21.
Overall, while research institutes in India could have undertaken more studies on SRI and associated methodologies, they contributed more to scientific knowledge about SRI than the research institutions in other countries. Indeed, in 2022, the Indian Institute of Rice Research and ICAR agreed to host and co-sponsor with our colleagues’ National Consortium for SRI (NCS) and the Indian Society for Advancement of Rice Research (SARR) an international conference in August of that year on Sustainable Crop Intensification for Climate-Smart Food and Nutritional Security in Hyderabad. That the invitation for participation came from the DG of ICAR and the Director of IIRR indicated an acceptance of and interest in SRI that was greater than from any other agricultural research establishment.
OTHER AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN SOUTH ASIA
The main institution of relevance here for SRI was the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). Like most of its counterpart institutions in other countries, BRRI focused on plant breeding as its main strategy, developing and releasing many new varieties, including varieties bred for higher zinc content, something that SRI research showed can be enhanced not only by breeding new genotypes, but by modifying crop management practices.
One of the first researchers to do SRI trials, already in 2000, was Sayeed Hassan at BRRI’s branch station at Comilla. The powerpoint presentation that he prepared at the time to show his results to researchers at the main BRRI station is still one of the best, prepared just from reading my Bellagio paper and from doing his own on-station trials. His initial SRI yield was 22% higher than from his control plots with ‘best management practices’ and 63% above the Bangladesh average yield, while requiring less water and other inputs. The presentation, however, did not impress colleagues at BRRI headquarters, and he subsequently moved to the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.
Fortunately, one scientific officer at BRRI, Abu Bakar Siddique Sarker, took and sustained an active interest in SRI. For years, he was the only link between BRRI and the SRI network that emerged in Bangladesh. His work and assessments on SRI were eclipsed by those of another BRRI researcher, however, M.A. Latif, who did his own evaluation of SRI in parallel with the IRRI-funded research in Bangladesh that is reported on in Chapter 7.
To Latif’s credit and advantage, he got two articles published from his research project in the international journal Field Crops Research. However, his findings differed from almost all of the other reported research on SRI, and they were at odds with the results of a much larger-scale evaluation of SRI that was done concurrently in Bangladesh. In the trials that Latif reported on, older seedlings gave higher yields than younger ones, for example, and SRI plants had a higher (not lower) percent of unfilled grains than did rice plants grown with usual methods. Further, the plants took 10-15 days longer to mature, quite the opposite from most other SRI assessments, suggesting that SRI methods had not been used correctly (Chapter 11).
Latif’s data base, which came from one season of on-station trials and from the on-farm trials of just 20 farmers, was dwarfed by that of the larger BRAC/SAFE/POSD/Syngenta study funded by IRRI’s Bangladesh office. The larger study encompassed the trials of 1,278 farmers over a two-year period. Their average SRI yield was 7.5 tonnes per hectare, while the SRI yield that the farmers in Latif’s sample attained with SRI methods was just 6 tonnes. However, since Latif’s research got published in a well-known journal, it became the widely-accepted assessment of how SRI methods perform in Bangladesh.
Abu Bakr continued with his evaluations of SRI, however, and he did three years of comparison trials for his PhD thesis in agronomy from the Bangladesh Agricultural University. He did not assess SRI effects vis-à-vis farmers’ practices, but rather in comparison with BRRI’s own ‘best management practices.’ With full use of SRI practices, Abu Bakr found that grain yield reached 10.17 tonnes per hectare, almost double (93% more) what was produced in the trials that used the practices which BRRI was recommending at the time.
These results did not have much apparent impact within BRRI, however, as it continued to consider SRI as a fringe innovation, keeping most of its work focused on varietal improvement. The Rural Development Academy in Bangladesh, which has broader objectives than BRRI, has done its own evaluations of SRI’s productivity, and positive results have encouraged it to continue generating more knowledge on SRI and to get involved in training for SRI.
The Nepal Agricultural Research Council with more than 60 branches throughout the country oversees and manages all government agricultural research in this country. In April 2002, its central headquarters in Kathmandu hosted two presentations on SRI in one week, organized by different agencies. Some of the earliest SRI trials, in 1999, were conducted at NARC stations in Khumaltar in Lalitpur district, and then at Bhairawa in Rupandehi. But those results were mixed and inconclusive, apparently because SRI methods such as intermittent irrigation to have mostly aerobic soil conditions were not used as specified.
A socio-economic survey conducted among 30 SRI adopters by the regional agricultural research station at Tarahara in the eastern hills of Nepal, comparing SRI to conventional planting methods, showed a 134% increase in grain yield for early-season rice (8.5 vs 3.45 tonnes per hectare) and a 55% increase in the rainy season (5.74 vs 3.7 tonnes per hectare). Such results helped to create more positive attitudes among researchers and development workers. Other trials simply testing SRI vs. conventional practices were conducted at the agricultural research station in Jumla in the Himalayas (3000 meters above sea level) and at Dailekh in the mid-hill region (1700 masl), also giving results that favored SRI.
NARC engagement with SRI got a boost after 2012 when it recruited Ram Bahadur Khadka (Chapter 25) and assigned him to its regional research station at Banke in the mid-western development region. Ram had previously worked with an NGO promoting SRI under an EU-funded project in the western terai. Ram published several papers on SRI before leaving Nepal in 2016 to do a PhD course of study at Ohio State University.
While there was no ongoing SRI research program within the NARC after Ram came to the US, but it takes a generally favorable position on SRI, while the Ministry of Agriculture takes the lead on SRI promotion. NARC engagement with SRI is expected to increase now that Ram has finished his PhD and returned to Nepal. In general, there was in Nepal more curiosity about SRI than resistance, compared, e.g., to the situation in Sri Lanka discussed below.
The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council has taken no interest in SRI even though in 2009 it sent technicians to Asif Sharif’s 17-hectare test plot for mechanized SRI to supervise the measurement of its yield: 12 tonnes of grain per hectare, achieved with reductions of 70% in both water and labor (Chapter 19).
When I visited Lahore in 2006, I was able, at my host’s initiative, to give a seminar on SRI to staff at the Pakistan Rice Research Institute at Kalu Shah Kaka, but there was little interest expressed and no follow-up. Almost everything about SRI was contrary to the principles and practices of the Green Revolution, with which scientists in Pakistan were quite satisfied. So, there was no engagement by its research institutions, leaving initiative to universities and mostly to the private sector.
There was not much more interest in SRI at research institutions in this country. Karma Lhendup, a Cornell graduate, was able to get staff at the Renewable Natural Resource Research Centre in Bajo to undertake SRI trials in 2008 while he was teaching at the nearby College of Natural Resources of the Royal University of Bhutan.
The next year, Lhendup and RNRRC researcher Mahesh Ghimire collaborated to report their respective SRI results. And Ghimire became the point of contact for SRI work in Bhutan after Karma left the College of Natural Resources. But Bhutan’s research institutions have not provided any momentum for SRI in their country. There has been more interest within the NGO sector.
The situation in this country has been more protracted and complicated than elsewhere in South Asia. Scientists at the government’s Rice Research and Development Institute at Bathalagoda took a negative stance toward SRI from the time when they first learned about it in January 2000.
It so happened that the small rice farm of the Deputy Minister of Agriculture at the time, Salinda Dissanayake, who had taken a serious interest in SRI as noted in Chapter 10, adjoined the Institute. Bathalagoda researchers only needed to look over their research station's fence to see the splendid rice phenotypes that Salinda was growing with SRI methods.
An improved variety developed at their own research station (BG-358) when grown under SRI management gave a yield of 16 tonnes per hectare, while an unimproved traditional variety yielded 13 tonnes per hectare with SRI methods. These remarkable results were simply ignored by the researchers even though Dissanayake was their ministry’s Deputy Minister.
When the Bathalagoda researchers did some of their own evaluations of SRI, these did not follow SRI protocols, and their results were not assessed dispassionately. Even when Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, whom the researchers greatly respected as ‘the father of India’s Green Revolution,’ gave approval to SRI based on his own evaluations (Chapter 21), the rice researchers at Bathalagoda preferred to stick with the varietal-breeding and input-dependent strategy of the Green Revolution, which was preferred by most agricultural researchers in the South Asian region. After 2020, when the government of Sri Lanka began promoting more agroecological approaches for the sake of soil and human health, this attitude began changing.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Probably because the agricultural sectors are organized somewhat differently in this region, any SRI activity that emerged here was usually initiated from agricultural research institutions. Although it should not be surprising that in war-torn Afghanistan, this was not the case, and the lead on SRI in this country was taken by NGOs and international donors.
In Iran, Iraq and Egypt, it has been researchers at national research institutes who were the first to take an interest in SRI. They conducted their own evaluations to satisfy themselves and others that the new methods could be successful under their country’s particular soil and climatic conditions. These differ greatly from the conditions in Madagascar, and indeed those in most of the rest of Asia. Still, positive results were obtained whenever SRI methods were assessed.
SRI’s start-up was not, however, a matter of the agricultural research institutes making decisions as institutions to investigate the innovation. Rather, the initiative for assessing the new ideas and methods always came from individual researchers who took a personal interest in what SRI could achieve for the farmers whom they were expected to serve.
After a deputy minister of agriculture, Dr. Mohammed Emadi, who happened to be a personal friend, learned about SRI, he sought to get evaluations of the new methods done at the Haraz Extension and Technology Development Center at Amol in northeastern Iran. The head of that center’s Agronomy Group, Bahman Larijani, started trials in 2004, and by 2008 he could report that his trials over a four-year period had shown SRI methods giving an average yield increase of 60%, accompanied by a cost reduction of 41%.
This prompted researchers at the Rice Research Institute of Iran in Rasht also to start some evaluations in the northwestern part of the country, although they did not communicate much about their work outside the country in contrast to Larijani’s collegial sharing. Below is a picture of Larijani with an SRI plant having 92 tillers, 73 of them forming panicles. Such results helped to get respect for SRI in his institute and eventually beyond.
At an international hybrid rice conference in China in 2004, I just happened to make the acquaintance of a senior Iraqi rice researcher, Khidhir Abbas Hameed Kirmasha, from Iraq’s Rice Research Station at al-Mishkhab in the south of the country near Najaf. Khidhir took an immediate interest in SRI and began trials at this station in the next season after he returned to Iraq. A picture in Chapter 1 shows some of Khidhir’s varietal trials evaluating SRI vs. conventional management in side-by-side plots at the station in 2007. Even from afar, the SRI plots could be seen to be superior compared to plots with the same variety cultivated with standard management.
Khidhir’s first-year trials showed only an 18% yield advantage for SRI, with an 80% saving of seed. The next year, the yield advantage was greater, 42%, with water efficiency (kg of rice produced per liter of water) almost three times higher than the prevailing level. This improvement was something very important for the water-constrained farmers in Iraq. Khidhir also did trials using clover as a cover crop between rice seasons to enhance soil fertility by organic means.
Khidhir and station staff started doing some SRI training of farmers in 2005, but given the separation between research and extension agencies in Iraq, there has been limited extension activity undertaken. It fell to researchers to take initiative for this function. Collaboration between agencies was, of course, made more difficult in part by the disrupted conditions in this war-torn country. Although most of the armed conflict in Iraq occurred to the north of Najaf, the station’s library was burned down by insurgents in 2008, and the repercussions of warfare have been felt throughout the country.
Khidhir nevertheless made valuable research contributions to the SRI knowledge base, as noted in Chapter 9. Since 2016, he has been trying to get research counterparts in the Middle East and Central Asian countries to evaluate SRI opportunities for themselves, as noted in Chapter 25. In 2019, Khidhir together with his SRI colleague in Iran, Bahman Larijani, planned a training course on SRI for Central and Western Asian researchers to be held in Iran. Political tensions, however, caused delays in this. Below is a picture of Khidhir with a student who did his master’s thesis evaluating SRI at the Al-Mishkhab station.
A senior researcher at the Rice Research and Training Center at Sakha, which is part of the national agricultural research complex at Kafr el-Sheikh north of Cairo, learned about SRI in 2006. Waled El-Khoby used the SRI website to acquaint himself with this innovation before he contacted SRI-Rice. When he got SRI trials started at Sakha in 2008, the SRI yield with an inbred modern variety was 10.7 tonnes per hectare, and with a hybrid rice the yield was 13.9 tonnes. Both yields were well above the national average of 9.5 tonnes per hectare, one of the highest national averages in the world.
Waled continued trials, but it was hard to get the innovation taken up by the extension service, a not-uncommon difficulty in this country. A World Bank-funded project for improving water management in Egypt (2012-2016) included a small SRI component that was judged successful, with a 30% reduction in water requirements for the rice crop. Unfortunately, the project did not draw on the SRI knowledge of either Waled or SRI-Rice, so its version of SRI did not tap the innovation’s full potential. Below is a picture of Waled, on the left, beside one of his SRI plots at the Sakha research station in 2008. Next to Waled is Mustapha Ceesay from The Gambia, who is profiled below for his role in getting SRI started in his country.
In 2012, a presentation was arranged on SRI to research staff of the Sakha Rice Research and Training Center, which is part of the national agricultural research complex at Kafr el Sheikh, with over 50 researchers attending. Sharing information such as provided in Chapters 3, 4 and 5, did not elicit any interest beyond what little Walid had been able to generate.
In the Middle East, it has been agricultural research institutions that were most responsive to SRI opportunities, or more precisely, it has been researchers at such institutions who have taken initiative when their counterparts in other institutions of their country did not. Even when SRI was validated under local conditions, it was still difficult to get the innovation used by farmers because of the limited linkage between research and extension organizations.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN AFRICA AND LATIN AMERICA
In neither of these two large regions did agricultural research institutions play much of a role in SRI evaluation and dissemination, so there is less to report from here than from other regions.
The agency responsible for agricultural R&D here, known as FOFIFA, did some initial trials in the early 1990s when Fr. Laulanié first began publicizing SRI. That FOFIFA researchers could not replicate the priest’s highest reported yields in their on-station trials was cited by IRRI’s representative as a reason for IRRI not taking an interest in SRI (Chapter 3). The yields that were obtained with SRI methods matched what could be produced with ‘modern’ seeds and fertilizer, 7 tonnes per hectare. That the SRI yield was 3.5 times greater than the national average and was achieved without requiring Malagasy farmers to purchase any expensive inputs was not considered as sufficient reason for FOFIFA or IRRI to investigate SRI further.
Fortunately for SRI in Madagascar, one FOFIFA rice specialist, Bruno Andrianaivo, who had worked in the rice sector for 20 years and who had been trained at IRRI in the Philippines -- and who had dismissed SRI for years -- finally observed some SRI fields that shook his confidence in his negative assessment (Chapter 10). Bruno began working with CIIFAD and Tefy Saina on evaluating SRI in 1997, and he did some of the first trials with rainfed versions of SRI (Chapter 13).
When the Rockefeller Foundation made a small grant to CIIFAD in 2000 for evaluating SRI in Madagascar, Bruno used some of this funding to conduct trials that evaluated, among other things, the interaction between soil quality and the optimal number of plants per hill. On poor soils, he found that two plants per hill outperformed single plants with other SRI methods; but as soil quality improved over time, even on initially poorer soils, single plants could become more productive. On good soil, rice plants could be more productive, so lower plant density gave higher yields per unit area, confirming the conclusion of Fr. Laulanié that on good quality soil, wider spacing will optimize yield.
Bruno’s research led eventually to his writing a PhD thesis for the University of Antananarivo, and he moved from FOFIFA to the university as a professor of agronomy. FOFIFA as a whole continued to keep its distance from SRI, especially after Bruno left the agency. Its staff preferred to focus on new varieties and external inputs, even though most Malagasy farmers could hardly afford either or often did not have physical access to them.
The only other agricultural research institute in Africa that got involved with SRI early on was the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in this country. Again, this came about because of personal initiative. As reported in Chapter 9, the director of the institute’s research station at Sapu, Mustapha Ceesay, came to Cornell in 1998 to do a master’s degree and then a PhD in crop and soil science. Mustapha and I got acquainted when he took my course on the administration of agricultural and rural development, and I shared with him what we knew about SRI at that time. In 2001, when Mustapha went home for the summer between school-years, he was able to do some SRI trials at the Sapu station, up-river from the capital, because he had formerly been its director.
As Mustapha reported to the Sanya SRI conference in 2002, his on-station SRI yields, varying factors like seedling age and spacing, ranged from 5.4 to 8.3 tonnes per hectare. More interesting were the results from on-farm trials that 10 farmers whom he knew undertook with his supervision. Their SRI yields averaged 7.4 tonnes per hectare, while their yields with usual methods were 2.5 tonnes, which were themselves above the national average. Below is a picture of Mustapha’s trials at Sapu in 2001. Conventional irrigated rice is in the foreground.
For his PhD thesis research, Mustapha evaluated the SRI management strategy and compared it with the varietal improvement being made by WARDA rice breeders. By crossing Asian rice (Oryza sativa) with its African relative (Oryza glaberrima), WARDA had developed a new variety known as NERICA, an acronym for New Rice for Africa. Mustapha’s NERICA trials in four locations averaged a little over 1.5 tonnes per hectare, with high applications of fertilizer. This represented an improvement in yield, but not much profitability.
In his thesis, Mustapha made no direct comparisons between SRI and NERICA as this was a very sensitive issue at the institutional level. But his thesis abstract concluded with this sentence: “Grain yields of rice under SRI management are 2-3 times higher than the national average in The Gambia.” Despite the results reported, the National Agricultural Research Institute did not embark on further evaluation or dissemination of SRI in The Gambia. More will be said on this in Chapter 44.
Institutional response to SRI was very slow in this country, but when there were economic resources available and when SRI results were demonstrated in the field at NGO initiative, the research system became involved and played a positive role. In 2003 and 2005, I made visits to the Institute for Rural Economy (IER) in Bamako during visits to Mali for CIIFAD. There were cordial conversations, but no interest in follow-up.
Then when the World Bank-funded WAAPP project was formulated and funded (Chapter 8), IER’s National Center for Improvement in Rice (CNS-Riz) was designated to serve as the project’s implementing agency under the direction of Gaoussou Traoré, and this enabled IER to make some significant contributions to SRI uptake across the whole West African region.
Other African Countries
Under the WAAPP initiative on SRI, agricultural research institutions in Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Niger, and Nigeria became engaged to different extents with SRI evaluation and extension. But it was the availability of funding that seemed to spark interest more than anything intrinsic about SRI.
In 2001, I made presentations on SRI to national agricultural research institutions in Ghana and in South Africa with no apparent interest in any follow-up either place. In general, little interest in SRI was expressed from agricultural research institutions or rice research institutions in Africa, perhaps because only ideas were being offered, not money to fund research, pay salaries, and provide perquisites.
In Latin America, the overall response to SRI was similar to that in Africa. Only in Cuba did research institutions, the Rice Research Institute (IIA) at Bauta and the National Institute for Agricultural Sciences (INCA), get involved in any early SRI investigation. However, these institutes did not get involved in follow-up dissemination, and neither took a leadership role for SRI work in Cuba as we had hoped for. In general, there was not much evident collaboration among institutions, most being starved for resources and just trying to continue to justify their existence.
When I was invited to a conference on sustainable development in Brasilia, this country’s capital in 2003, I visited the headquarters of its renowned agricultural research agency EMBRAPA, but discussions with staff there elicited no interest. Subsequent discussions with a soil biologist on the EMBRAPA staff, Robert Boddey, got some SRI trials done in the lowlands of Amazonia province. (Bob had contributed two chapters to the edited book on Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems, noted in Chapter 5.)
These trials unfortunately did not include any soil-aerating weeding, important especially for low-lying soils. The pre-grain filling performance of the rice plants in the SRI plots was better than that of plants in the control plots, but at harvest time, these plants gave slightly lower yield. The researchers concluded from their observations that SRI was a “promising management alternative,” but there was no further examination of SRI.
Other Latin American Countries
Elsewhere in the region, research institutions showed no more interest in SRI than in Cuba and Brazil. The Tropical Research Institute in Panama, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution in the US, sponsored a day-long colloquium on SRI in August 2009, but this was at the initiative of a Canadian PhD student researcher who was based at TRI, rather than from TRI staff. In 2013, during a visit to the Dominican Republic, I was able to make a presentation on SRI to staff of the National Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Research (IDIAF), but this evoked only polite interest.
After the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) took initiative to start spreading knowledge about SRI within Latin America and the Caribbean (Chapter 8), various national research institutes in the region started taking SRI more seriously. In 2018, for example, the Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA) in Santiago reported successful SRI trials, making Chile the 61st country where the effectiveness of SRI management had been demonstrated, eliciting more productive phenotypes from a given rice genotype. Below is a picture of Karla Cordero who is leading the INIA work on SRI.
Agricultural research institutes in both Africa and Latin America have generally not been moved to examine SRI unless some donor agency or other source of funding made the research financially appealing. This surely reflected the severely constrained budgetary circumstances under which most operate. This would not explain, however, why Cuban institutions were more responsive to SRI opportunities than were Brazilian counterparts, for example.
There were some individual exceptions in Africa and Latin America to the observation that government-supported research institutions have tended to operate in bureaucratic ways with incentives and strictures that put routines ahead of curiosity. The result is that most researchers take their cues for research focuses and priorities from what they see favored and funded by potential donors.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES
It was hoped that agricultural research institutions in the U.S. and Europe would take an interest in SRI and conduct the kind of systematic studies and evaluations that a new innovation should have. Unfortunately, there was little curiosity expressed. As noted in Chapter 23, there has been some thesis research done on SRI by students at a number of First World universities, but this did not carry over to the institutions in these countries that were expected to be current in their knowledge and to give leadership on agricultural research. Perhaps this was because of an assumption that SRI was relevant only for rice or because of a stereotype that SRI was suitable only for small-scale and labor-intensive rice production. There was no evident interest coming from Russian and Eastern European research institutions either.
In the UK, the preeminent agricultural research center has for many years been the Rothamsted Experimental Station established in 1843, later the Institute of Arable Crops Research, and now simply Rothamsted Research. There has been no evident interest that we know of from this institute or from any other British agricultural research institution in drawing on SRI research and experience.
This country’s Center for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development, known as CIRAD, has been preeminent around the world, and especially in Francophone countries. In May 2002, I visited CIRAD’s headquarters in Montpelier to give a seminar on SRI. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication, I arrived later than scheduled, but there was still a core of researchers on hand to talk with. As far as we know, there has been little active interest at CIRAD headquarters in SRI even through this innovation was developed in Madagascar, a Francophone country.
One CIRAD agronomist-researcher, Olivier Husson, whose work in Vietnam was one of the catalysts for the collaborative book on Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems (Chapter 5), has taken a personal interest in SRI, especially in its soil biology aspects. His questions, suggestions and publications have contributed to the knowledge base for SRI.
There was some early interaction regarding SRI with the Center for Development Studies (ZEF) in Bonn, but no cooperation. When I visited the University of Bonn in October 2005 and gave a presentation there on SRI, after I had finished my talk, ZEF’s director, Paul Vlek, began to challenge my presentation, making arguments that sounded very much like IRRI criticisms.
What he had not counted on was that Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, who was also visiting Bonn at the same time, had come to the presentation unannounced. Based on his own evaluations and observations, Dr. Swaminathan spoke up to endorse what I had reported. There was no need for me to make a defense of SRI because Dr. Swaminathan is so widely known and respected.
As noted in Chapter 23, there has been some German university involvement with SRI, most notably from the University of Hohenheim. But German agricultural research institutes remained disengaged from SRI and its progress.
This country has an unusual institutional arrangement. In 1997, just when SRI started to be talked about beyond Madagascar, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture’s research institutes were all merged with Wageningen University to create a hybrid institution, Wageningen University and Research. The Wageningen SRI project reported on in Chapter 8 was undertaken in the name of the whole institution, WUR, so in that sense there was participation of Dutch agricultural research institutions in SRI work, indeed in the earliest days. But otherwise, there has not been substantial involvement.
Other European Institutes
Over the years there have been some individual contacts and queries from researchers in Scandinavia and Southern Europe, but nothing institutional. One of the best studies of SRI’s reductions in greenhouse gas emissions was done by staff at the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research and their research associates in India. We cannot know all of the research that may have been done in Europe, but apart from the examples above, other institutions have not had much impact, positive or negative, on SRI’s acceptance.
In the US, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is by far the most important agency for agricultural research. With a few exceptions, it has kept a discrete distance from SRI despite numerous attempts to gain the interest of its research establishment. There has been some interest in SRI from individual USDA staff, who invited me to make presentations on SRI to USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) in Washington, DC in 2004; to its Sustainable Agriculture Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, MD in 2007; and to its Foreign Agricultural Service, again in Washington, DC in 2017. In 2009, a USDA Agricultural Research Service workshop on sustaining the productivity of soils under the stresses of climate change invited a presentation on SRI that was published in its proceedings.
Still, despite these stirrings of interest from staff, and some efforts by USDA staff to draw attention from the top leadership of the Department to SRI, there were no signs of curiosity about how SRI agronomic methods could raise the productivity of land, water and other resources in the U.S. or elsewhere. Even an articulate presentation on SRI by the actor Jim Carrey before the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at a Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City in 2010 failed to elicit any follow-up despite our and others’ attempts to communicate with the USDA.
In June 2017, as noted above, the Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA invited me to make a presentation on SRI to its staff in Washington. The reception was friendly, but nothing resulted from the interaction. As with USAID, the American development assistance agency (Chapter 32), even when there was interest from staff at headquarters and in the field, there was a kind of stonewalling at the top of USDA regarding SRI, perhaps because of the Department’s long-standing ties to large-scale agriculture and agribusiness interests.
* * * * * *
It is hard to understand why agricultural research institutions showed little interest in SRI as an innovation, perhaps because a not-invented-here disposition. It could be that the way in which SRI was presented was faulty and turned people off. But as seen in this chapter, such presentations elicited serious engagement from some researchers and research institutions in various countries, although a minority.
As seen in Chapter 21, two of the most eminent rice researchers in the world, Prof. Yuan and Dr. Swaminathan, gave early endorsements of SRI based on their own evaluations. Yet the interest and response from most agricultural research institutes was spotty. To be sure, this posture was not unique to agricultural research institutions. Most universities, NGOs, government agencies, donors, businesses and others were also indifferent, while a few institutions (and individuals) in each category comprehended the significance of SRI and took initiative.
In the case of research institutions, getting funding from government or from other sources is always a challenge. If there had been generous financial support available to cover the costs of SRI evaluation, more research institutions and universities would surely have lined up for grants and contracts. But money alone is not the explanation. As seen in this chapter, some researchers found ways to get their work on SRI supported at least sufficiently to produce informative and publishable results.
In the chapters that follow we consider the roles and attitudes of governments, foundations, donor agencies, and the private sector which could have greatly amplified efforts to resolve any doubts and controversies about SRI. What is seen from looking at research institutions’ reactions to the SRI opportunity is a kind of tension between intellectual curiosity (or incuriosity) and financial resources (or lack of these). How such tension gets resolved is affected mostly by formal and informal priority-setting, getting consensus among administrators and researchers on what is important, and why.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
 As noted in Chapter 21, Prof. Yuan hosted and keynoted the first international SRI conference at Sanya in 2002. His endorsement carried a lot of weight in China among both policy-makers and researchers because he had pioneered the development of hybrid rice varieties in China and the worl. In Sichuan, he got a seed multiplication farm in Meishan township with which he was working to produce hybrid rice seed to do its own evaluations of SRI. The seed farm’s manager, Liu Zhibin, developed the ‘triangular’ method of SRI transplanting, described in Chapter 26. In his first season, Liu was able to reach a SRI yield of 16 tonnes per hectare.
There was, however, little publication on SRI from the hybrid rice center staff after Professor Yuan’s initial article on SRI in 2000 and his hosting of the Sanya conference in 2002. The Hybrid Rice Center did not seek to participate and exchange with others in the SRI community around the world, perhaps regarding SRI as being in competition with hybrid rice, when in fact, SRI methods had shown that they can enhance the grain yield from hybrids. They also greatly reduce farmers’ seed requirements, so that the high cost of purchasing hybrid rice seed can with SRI become less of a barrier to farmer adoption.
 See the research paper by Zhu, Lin and Cheng published in the proceedings of the 2002 SRI conference.
 A report on this first all-China meeting, with participants from more than 10 provinces, is posted on the SRI-Rice website.
 The Theory and Practice of SRI, edited by Zhu D.F., Lin X.Q., Xiong H. and Chen H.Z., in Chinese, Chinese Publishing Company of Science and Technology, Beijing (2006).
 Lin X.Q., Zhu D.F., Chen H.Z., Cheng S.H. and N. Uphoff, ‘Effect of plant density and nitrogen fertilizer rates on grain yield and nitrogen uptake of hybrid rice (Oryza sativa L.),’ Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology and Sustainable Agriculture, 1: 44-53 (2009).
 Zhu had begun discussing SRI with DPRK counterparts several years before when he was on an FAO assignment in North Korea for improving food security there. A report on the 2010 workshop is posted on the SRI-Rice website. The picture of Chinese and Korean workshop participants includes representatives from The Asia Foundation, which helped to fund the workshop, and from the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and the Mennonite Central Committee, both NGOs that were introducing SRI methods with agricultural cooperatives in the DPRK. Zhu is seated in the front row to the right of me in the center; Lin wearing a red tie is standing behind Zhu.
 Zheng Jiaguo is seated in the front row, third from the left, in the picture from the 2010 meeting with DPRK scientists.
 Zheng was head of the SAAS Crop Research Institute’s Tillage and Cultivation Department, and Lu headed its Crop Cultivation Department. This bureaucratic arrangement unfortunately divided rather than combined their efforts.
 Zheng Jiaguo, Chi Z.Z., Li X.Y. and Jiang X.L., ‘Agricultural water savings possible through SRI for water management in Sichuan, China,’ Taiwan Water Conservancy, 61: 50-62 (2013).
 This organization, called the Xintiandi Cooperative, was formed as a new model for comprehensive agricultural extension in China. Farmers who became members paid 10 cents a month and got a range of agricultural and social services. The local agricultural technicians as well as outside experts working with farmers also became members of the organization, for example, Prof. Zhang Fusuo, dean of the College of Resources and Environment at China Agricultural University in Beijing.
SRI was not the only focus of collective activity. The organization worked for integrated whole-village development, emphasizing organic agriculture as the base, but with health, adult education, and cultural activities as part of the mix. From 74 members cultivating 28 ha of organic SRI in 2010, the coop’s membership expanded to over 100 households operating more than 400 ha of land, growing 10 crops organically as well as rice. With its own processing facilities, the coop was producing 40,000 kg of specialty rices (red, black, and black glutinous) in 2020.
For an early account of this innovation, see Lv Shihua and Liu Quanqing, ‘A new model of agricultural technology promotion in comprehensive management of nutrient resources: Expert + Association + Farmers,’ in Research and Application of Comprehensive Management Techniques of Nutrient Resources, edited by Zhang Fusuo, China Agricultural University Press, Beijing (2006).
 As reported in an endnote in Chapter 22, in 2005, Zhai supported my application to IRRI for its position of Director-General, although nothing came of this. It was a great honor to have the president of the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences willing to serve as a reference.
 Zhu’s presentation for the WWRC is on-line. From their studies, CNRRI scientist had calculated that the yield increase under SRI management was 80% due to the plants having larger numbers of grains per panicle, 16% due to their greater number of panicles, and 4% due to the heavier grain weight. Water savings ranged from 22% to 45% depending on what version of SRI was implemented.
 These numbers were given by Weijian Zhang in the Institute of Crop Sciences of CAAS. See ‘Analysis: Why rice intensification matters in Asia,’ IRIN News Service, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Bangkok, April 24 (2012). Within the CAAS, Zhang took initiative to combine SRI and SWI in what he referred to as ‘the system of wheat-rice intensification’ where rice and wheat were grown in rotation each year. The average combined yield of wheat and rice in the two cropping seasons was over 15 tonnes per hectare, he reported. Zhang further developed this combined system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Innovational Rice-Wheat System for Higher Yield with Lower Emissions in China, Based on Concepts of SRI, paper written for the Institute of Crop Sciences, CAAS, Beijing (2010).
 Wu and Uphoff, ‘A review of the System of Rice Intensification in China,’ Plant and Soil, 393: 361-381 (2015). There were not enough trials in which all of the SRI methods had been used as recommended, so no statistically valid average could be reported for full use, but from the evaluations in the literature, this average was about 30%. If only one or two of the recommended practices were used, average yield was reduced by about 5%.
 T. Horie, T. Shiraiwa, K. Homma, K. Katsura, S. Maeda and H. Yoshida, ‘Can yields of lowland rice resume the increases that they showed in the 1980s?’ Plant Production Science, 8: 257-272 (2005); and Y. Tsujimoto, T. Horie, H. Randriamihary, T. Shiraiwa and K. Homma, ‘Soil management: The key factors in higher productivity in the fields utilizing the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in central Madagascar,’ Agricultural Systems, 100: 61-71 (2009). Professor Horie also hosted presentations on SRI by myself at Kyoto University in 2005 and 2008, and by Shuichi Sato and myself at his NARO headquarters in July 2007 after he became director-general of NARO. In this latter meeting, Horie expressed to his staff his own personal thoughts on SRI, which were very positive, after we had finished our presentations.
 See, for example, K. Toriyama and H. Ando, ‘Towards an understanding of the high productivity of rice with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) management from the perspective of soil and plant physiological processes,’ Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 57: 636-649 (2011).
 See, for example, J.D. Choi, G.Y. Kim, W.J. Park, M.H. Shin, Y.H. Choi, S. Lee, S.J. Kim and D.K. Yun. ‘Effect of SRI water management on water quality and greenhouse gas emissions in Korea,’ Irrigation and Drainage, 63: 263-270 (2014); and Y.C. Chang, N. Uphoff and E. Yamaji, ‘A conceptual framework for eco-friendly paddy farming in Taiwan, based on experimentation with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methodology,’ Paddy and Water Environment, 14: 169-183 (2015).
 At the suggestion of the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bui Ba Bong, the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute hosted talks on SRI during my visits to Hanoi in 2006 and 2007. The latter visit to Vietnam was, indeed, at the invitation of the president of VAAS. In 2007, VAAS hosted a national workshop on SRI at its Food Crops Research Institute, written up in my trip report, pages 7-15.
There was no subsequent contact with VAAS, but a wide range of organizational partners in Vietnam, including several research institutes, began cooperating in support of the Agriculture Ministry’s SRI initiative. From 2013, the Food Crops Research Institute began doing evaluations to assess SRI effects on greenhouse gas emissions, with Australian and Dutch assistance. The institute’s deputy director-general, Dr. Ahn, has worked closely with other institutions in Vietnam that are involved with SRI.
 That the director of PhilRice, Dr. Leo Sebastian, had done his PhD in plant breeding at Cornell (and had taken my course on development administration while there) made visits to the PhilRice center in Muñoz more cordial. But PhilRice remained oriented toward ‘mainstream’ agricultural practices.
 When one of several proposals from SRI-Pilipinas was submitted to the Department of Agriculture for carrying out joint trials in farmers’ fields, it was passed on to Philrice for evaluation. PhilRice response was that it “could not endorse the proposal.” All of the other proposals from SRI-Pilipinas also languished within the Department bureaucracy.
 One of the most vivid memories from the 1997 seminar in Bogor was of meeting IRRI’s country representative in Indonesia at the time, Shyam Mahanuddin, who by coincidence was a Cornell alumnus. He came up to me after the presentation and said that he had heard about SRI before, from his IRRI counterpart in Madagascar, V. Balasubramaniam. Bala had humorously dismissed SRI with a comment that the priest (Laulanié) “must have sprinkled holy water on his seeds to get those results.” Bala has said that he does not remember ever making such a comment to Mahanuddin, but it seems unlikely that a comment this vivid would have been made up by Mahanuddin, especially because it did not reflect very positively on the institution he represented.
 In April 2000, after the first results from the SRI trials at Sukamandi were reported, CIIFAD arranged with AARD and Tefy Saina for a senior rice researcher, Sunendar Kartaatmadjah, to visit Madagascar for 10 days and learn more about SRI directly at its source. Shortly after he returned to Indonesia, however, Sunendar was reassigned to be director of am AARD research institute in a region where little rice was grown. So he left Sukamandi, and this CIIFAD initiative failed to move SRI ahead in Indonesia.
 It was never clear whether this instruction came from the director or from elsewhere. The director, Irsal Las, had been a co-author of the paper on SRI’s introduction in Indonesia that Anischan presented at the 2002 SRI conference in China, so he was knowledgeable about SRI. But this did not guarantee that he was supportive or would not yield to pressure.
 These findings were summarized in S. Gopalakrishnan, R. Mahender Kumar and others, ‘Assessment of different methods of rice (Oryza sativa. L) cultivation affecting growth parameters, soil chemical, biological, and microbiological properties, water saving, and grain yield in rice–rice system,’ Paddy and Water Environment, 12: 79-87.
 In 2007, a former student of mine, Gopalarajan, who was serving as a senior assistant secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister at the time set up a meeting for me with the Secretary to the Prime Minister in his office. ICAR’s director-general, Dr. Mangala Rai, also attended the meeting. After I had made a short presentation on SRI, the PM’s Secretary turned to Dr. Rai and asked him if what I had said was correct. (None of us knew what Mangala would say, but we knew that he had been resistant to SRI because of his attachment to crop breeding strategies.)
With only a little hesitation, Mangala Rai told the Secretary that if SRI methods were used as recommended, the results that I reported could be obtained. The rest of the meeting went very well after that. Afterwards, standing in the parking lot outside the office while waiting for our car, Mangala commented with a little agitation that what I had told the Perm Sec about SRI had better be correct, because if not, “my head is on the block,” dramatically drawing a finger across his throat. I assured him that his head was safe, and indeed it was.
 Between 2009 and 2018, Amod published scientific articles on SRI in Advances in Agronomy, Agricultural Water Management, Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, Experimental Agriculture, Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, Paddy and Water Environment, and Plant and Soil. Amod received a USDA Norman Borlaug Fellowship that enabled him to spend three months at Cornell in 2011. Subsequently Amod was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to spend 10 months at Cornell in 2013-2014.
 B.C. Barah, ‘Economic and ecological benefits of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Tamil Nadu,’ Agricultural Economics Research Review, 223: 201-214 (2009).
 S. Dhar, B.C. Barah, K. Vyas and N. Uphoff, ‘Comparing System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) with standard recommended practices in the northwestern plain zone of India,’ Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 62: 994-1006 (2015).
 A. Dass and S. Choudhury, “Effects of different components of SRI on yield, quality, nutrient access and economics of rice (Oryza sativa L.) in tarai belt of northern India,’ Indian Journal of Agronomy, 57: 250-254 (2012); A. Dass and S. Choudhury, ‘Irrigation, spacing and cultivar effects on net photosynthesis rates, dry matter partitioning, and productivity of rice under SRI in Mollisols in northern India,’ Experimental Agriculture, 49: 514-523 (2013); A. Dass and S. Dhar, ‘Irrigation management for improving productivity, nutrient uptake, and water use efficiency in System of Rice Intensification: A review,’ Annals of Agricultural Research, New Series, 35: 107-0122 (2014); A. Dass et al., ‘System of Rice (Oryza sativa) Intensification for higher productivity and resource-use efficiency: A review,’ Indian Journal of Agronomy, 60: 1-19 (2015); A. Dass et al., ‘Influence of field re-ponding and plant spacing on rice root-shoot characteristics, yield and water productivity of two modern cultivars under SRI management in Indian Mollisols,’ Paddy and Water Environment, 14: 45-59 (2016); and A. Dass et al., ‘Agronomic fortification of rice grains with secondary and micronutrients under differing crop management and soil moisture regimes in the northern plains of India,’ Paddy and Water Environment, 15: 1-16 (2017).
 Radha Prasanna et al., ‘Cyanobacterial inoculation in rice grown under flooded conditions and SRI modes of cultivation elicits differential effects on plant growth and nutrient dynamics,’ Ecological Engineering, 54: 532-541 (2015); S. Venkatachalam et al., ‘Diversity and functional traits of culturable microbiome members, including cyanobacteria in the rice phyllosphere,’ Plant Biology, 18: 627-637 (2016); A. Adak et al., ‘Micronutrient enrichment mediated by plant-microbe interactions and rice cultivation practices,’ Journal of Plant Nutrition, 15: 1-16 (2017); A. Shahane et al., ‘Contribution of microbial inoculation and zinc-fertilization to growth and yield of rice (Oryza sativa) under different cultivation methods in a sub-tropical and semi-arid climate,’ Indian Journal of Agronomy, 62: 301-306 (2017); S. Thapa et al., ‘Influence of fertilizer and rice cultivation methods on the abundance and diversity of microbiome,’ Journal of Basic Microbiology, 58: 172-186 (2018); A.A. Shahane et al., ‘Crop establishment methods, use of microbial consortia, biofilms and zinc fertilization for enhancing productivity and profitability of rice–wheat cropping system,’ Agricultural Research 8: 44-55 (2019). Radha has the merit of always trying to give colleagues, especially junior ones, credit for the work in which she is involved.
 Mian Hassan’s powerpoint is posted on the internet. My meeting with him is discussed in a trip report from November 2000, pages 3-4. Mian’s work on SRI was not necessarily a reason for his leaving BRRI, but his move to BARI was apparently more congenial.
 M.A. Latif et al., ‘Validation of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Bangladesh,’ Field Crops Research, 93: 281-292 (2005); M.A. Latif et al., ‘Evaluation of management practices and performance of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Bangladesh,’ Field Crops Research, 114: 255-262 (2009). The second reinforced the conclusions of the first, that BRRI’s ‘best management practices’ give results superior to those from SRI methods.
 A.M. Muazzam Husain, Gopal Chowhan, P. Barua, A.F.M. Razib Uddin and A.B.M. Ziaur Rahman, Final Evaluation Report on Verification and Refinement of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Project in Selected Areas of Bangladesh (SP 36 02).
 By happenstance, the director-general of BRRI in 2002, N.I. Bhuiyan, was a former student of mine at Cornell, like the director of PhilRice in the Philippines. Bhuiyan attended the meeting at BRAC in 2002 that formed the first national SRI network and he approved of BRRI’s participation in this. Otherwise there was no evident support for SRI. This showed that personal connections are not always effective.
 In 2015, the Rural Development Academy began implementing a five-year Action Research Project on Extension and Dissemination of Modern Technologies and Management Practices to Increase Crop Production, funded by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. The research used AWD irrigation and SRI methods as the main management practices disseminated.
 These sessions were organized, respectively, by the Agricultural Projects Service Centre (APROSC), a parastatal organization, and the Nepal office of CIMMYT, the international agricultural research center for maize and wheat. In both cases, the sponsorship was the result of previous correspondence by email with persons in these organizations whom I knew and who became interested in SRI.
 See Nepal country report to the Sanya conference in 2002.
 R.B. Bhujel et al., ‘Does system of rice intensification increase rice yield? A case of Dhankuta in eastern hill district of Nepal,’ Proceedings of the 9th National Outreach Workshop, 7-8 June, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Kathmandu (2010).
 It is interesting that two directors of the National Wheat Research Program in Nepal based at Bhairawa, Madan Raj Bhatta and Janma Jaya Tripathi, took an interest in SRI methods and conducted trials with SRI between 2000 and 2005. Their positive results were not published, however, perhaps because rice was not considered within the purview of the Wheat Program.
 K.R. Dahal and R.B. Khadka, ‘Performance of rice with varied age of seedlings and planting geometry under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in farmers’ fields in western Terai, Nepal,’ Nepal Journal of Science and Technology, 13: 1-6 (2012); R.B. Khadka, H.P. Acharya and N. Uphoff, ‘Performance of landrace and improved rice varieties under System of Rice Intensification management in Bajhang district of Nepal,’ Journal of Agriculture and Environment, 15: 1-10 (2014).
 For a description of my visit to this rice research institute, see page 8 of 2006 trip report. My host was Mushtaq Gil, director-general for water management for the Punjab’s Provincial Department of Agriculture. According to a personal communication from Asif Sharif, when in January 2019 a rice farmer Abdul Rizaq took some of his SRI rice to the Kala Shah Kaku stall at the Expo Centre in Lahore to have its quality analyzed, the technical staff at the research institution’s booth wrote out: “Rice produced on raised beds using SRI practices is superior in quality than the conventionally grown [rice].” This might prompt some attention from the Kalu Shah Kaku staff.
 See 2008 report from the Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre. The initial yield advantage was only 15-20%, but the crop cycle was reduced by 15 days, which is of particular benefit when rice is being grown at high altitudes as the growing season is capricious and may be cut short. Also, the seed requirements were greatly reduced.
 K. Lhendup, M. Ghimire and D. Tschewang, ‘Yield performance of IR64 using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methods at three locations in Wandgue and Punakha,’ Bhutan Journal of Renewable Natural Resources, 1: 138-143 (2009).
 This was when Joeli Barison visited Sri Lanka on behalf of CIIFAD in January 2001, while he was doing a master’s degree in crop and soil science at Cornell. Gamini Batuwitage arranged for a visit to the Bathalagoda rice research institute in north-central Sri Lanka.
 See Dissanayake’s keynote address to the international SRI conference in China in 2002. His interest in SRI was approved of by his Minister.
 Bathalagoda researchers’ on-station SRI trials never approached the results that the deputy minister got on his rice paddies just a few hundred meters away, possibly because the recommended water control was not followed on the Bathalagoda plots, or because the soil biota in the test plots were not as vigorous and diverse as in Dissanayake’s organically-fertilized fields.
There was one article published by Bathalagoda researchers that reported some favorable results from their evaluations. This paper reported no significant differences in yield between SRI, conventional transplanting of rice, and traditional broadcasting of seed, but because SRI methods greatly reduced seed requirements, they were 5 to 10 times more productive per seed than the other methods. D.S. Abeysiriwardena, W.M. Weerakoon and W.M. Wickramasinghe, ‘System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as a method of stand establishment in rice,’ American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Science, 5: 189-195 (2009).
 Dr. Emadi had done his PhD degree in agricultural extension at Hawkesbury University in Australia where we met in 1994. We met again in 1998 in Sri Lanka at an Asian Productivity Organization seminar, where I shared with him what I knew up to that point about SRI. Emadi immediately grasped the potential significance of SRI for Iranian farmers.
 See report, ‘The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Islamic Republic of Iran in 2008.’
 A post-doctoral researcher at the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran in the city of Karaj, Salman Dastan, has done a number of studies on SRI, comparing it with farmer practices and researchers’ recommendations. Between 2013 and 2016, he published five articles on the effects of SRI methods, most studies showing clear advantages for SRI. However, as most of his articles were written in Farsi, they were not accessible to others outside of Iran.
 After completing his PhD thesis, Bahman was promoted to the position of director of the research center at Haraz, which meant that he had less time to focus on SRI. Subsequently, he was appointed national director-general for Iran’s agricultural extension service for two years, which further expanded his responsibilities. In 2019, he returned to Haraz as that center’s director with an affiliation to the national rice research institute, putting him in a better position to resume working with SRI. Quite tragically, Bahman died in 2021, taking away a very capable and energetic colleague when he was in a good position to provide leadership for SRI in Iran.
 K.A. Hameed, A.J. Mosa and F.A. Jaber, ‘Irrigation water reduction using System of Rice Intensification compared with conventional cultivation methods in Iraq,’ Paddy and Water Environment, 9: 121-127 (2011); K.A. Hameed, F.A. Jaber and A.J. Mosa, ‘Irrigation water use efficiency for rice production in Southern Iraq under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) management,’ Taiwan Water Conservancy, 1: 86-93 (2013).
 FOFIFA is the Malagasy acronym for the National Center for Applied Research and Rural Development.
 See Mustapha Ceesay’s report to the Sanya conference. The SRI yields ranged from 1.8 to 9.4 tonnes per hectare, the one very low yield due to that farmer’s bund breaking one week after the transplanting so that the young seedlings were submerged for some time, which retarded their growth. The other nine farmers had an average yield of 8.1 tonnes per hectare.
According to a 2014 consultants’ report to the Ministry of Agriculture, average upland yields in The Gambia from 2006 to 2013 averaged were 0.9 tonnes per hectare, and for lowland rice production, the average was 1.2 tonnes. The respective average upland and lowland yields in 2006 were 1.1 and 1.3 tonnes.
 Management of Rice Production Systems to Increase Productivity in The Gambia, West Africa, PhD thesis, Cornell University (2004). SRI findings from his research were published in Mustapha’s article with his advisors including myself, ‘The effects of repeated soil wetting and drying on lowland rice yield with System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methods,’ International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 4: 5-14 (2006).
 Styger and Traoré, Improving and Scaling Up the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in West Africa: Key Results of SRI-WAAPP Project’s 1st Phase (2014-2016). See project summary.
 Visits to these institutions and to Cuba’s Institute for Basic Research on Tropical Agriculture (INIFAT) are described in trip reports for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008. One result of these visits was that Cuban scientists who worked on using beneficial microbes to improve agricultural production contributed two chapters to the book on Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems (2006).
In 2004, Cuban rice researchers at IIA expressed interest in studying the effects of mycorrhizal fungi in (unflooded) rice production. But they had no microscope to carry out research, an indication of how constrained their material conditions were. On my next visit to Cuba, I brought a microscope from CIIFAD and gave this to the institute. But staff interests there had changed by this time, so the microscope was never used for this purpose as far as I know.
 The research was reported in a Tropentag presentation in 2008 and in an article in the European Journal of Agronomy in 2013. Throughout this time, Ana Primavesi, a retired EMBRAPA scientist who was mentioned in Chapter 4 in connection to her work on roots, took a strong interest in SRI because of its agroecological elements. But she could do no more than ask good questions and give encouragement. Her son Odo Primavesi, an agroecologist who worked in EMBRAPA’s research center on animal husbandry in southeastern Brazil, also took a strong interest in SRI, but his center had no mandate to work on rice improvement.
 See newspaper report on a January 2020 visit to INIA field trials.
 One indicator of the level of interest in SRI is how many unique users there have been for the SRI-Rice website, not just the number of ‘hits.’ For the year July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019, these are the numbers of site users: Russia (57), 11 countries in Eastern Europe (110), top 10 African countries (2,543), U.S. (2,790), and India (12,818)
 In 2018, I sent an email to the director of Rothamsted Research, Dr. Achim Dobermann, formerly deputy director-general of IRRI and one of the most outspoken critics of SRI, updating him on SRI progress and suggesting that his institute invite Dr. Amir Kassam, who lives in London, to come to Rothamsted to discuss with its staff what had been and was being learned from our SRI experience. He responded politely, talking about other matters and but not addressing my suggestion.
In March 2007, while at the University of Newcastle for a workshop on conservation agriculture, I gave a seminar on SRI to its Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability, thinking that SRI should be of interest to its staff and students for both SRI’s environmental and sustainability aspects, but there was no response.
It was noted in Chapter 23 that some staff of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex have played a supportive role for SRI almost from the start. Although its research often addresses agricultural subjects and improvements, it is basically a social science institution and is considered in an earlier chapter rather than here.
 When visiting CIRAD in 2002, I had hoped to be able to meet Michel Puard, whose research in the 1980s on aerenchyma formation in the roots of flooded vs. unflooded rice plants had helped Fr. Laulanié gain a better understanding of SRI (see picture in Chapter 4 of comparative root cross-sections). I was told that Puard had left CIRAD some years before in a rather unhappy way, and that he no longer wanted anything to do with research. I had hoped to inform him about the practical and important uses to which his ‘pure research’ was being put, but could not make contact.
 See, for example, Husson’s article, ‘Redox potential (Eh) and pH as drivers of soil/plant/ microorganism systems: A transdisciplinary overview pointing to integrative opportunities for agronomy,’ Plant and Soil, 362: 389-417 (2013).
 V. Geetha Lakshmi et al., ‘System of rice intensification: Climate-smart rice cultivation system to mitigate climate change impacts in India,’ in U.S. Nagothu, editor, Climate Change and Agricultural Development: Improving Resilience through Climate-Smart Agriculture, Agroecology and Conservation, pages 232-258, Routledge (2015).
 Uphoff, ‘Agroecological approaches to help ‘climate-proof’ agriculture while raising productivity in the 21st century,’ in Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Climate Change, eds. T. Sauer, J. Norman and K. Sivakumar, Wiley-Blackwell, pages 87-102 (2011). This workshop was funded by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which had given a grant to an enterprising USDA/ARS scientist based at Iowa State, Tom Sauer.
 Jim Carrey, who in 2010 provided the funding to establish SRI-Rice at Cornell, was invited that year to speak on a panel at a Clinton Global Initiative Forum along with USDA Secretary Vilsack. Carrey’s presentation included pictures comparing SRI phenotypes with usual rice plants to make his points very visual.
Secretary Vilsack sat impassively through Carrey’s presentation. Afterwards, one of the Secretary’s USDA advisors approached Jim Carrey’s friend and advisor John Joliffe and said that this presentation had been very impressive and that they would like to help. However, subsequently, there was no response for any follow-up discussion despite efforts by both the Better U Foundation and SRI-Rice to make contact with Secretary Vilsack.
As reported in Chapter 35, the co-founder of Lotus Foods, Ken Lee, was also invited to the same CGI Forum in New York City and was introduced to Forum attendees by former President Bill Clinton himself. Clinton stood by Ken’s elbow and listened to Ken’s whole presentation (4 minutes, very condensed), but this information did not elicit any evident interest or any CGI follow-up.
PICTURE CREDITS: China National Rice Research Institute; Bahman Larijani (Iran); Khidhir Hamid (Iraq); Waled El-Khoby (Egypt); Mustapha Ceesay (Gambia); El Centro (Chile).