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The media are not bound by norms and practices such as peer review, but professionalism in journalism is expected to produce truthfulness and verifiable justification for reports and claims. Since the media are influenced at least somewhat by the discourse in professional journals, these two arenas for exchange of information and knowledge are connected, although unpredictably. Either arena can lag behind the other, and neither is particularly receptive to paradigm change, that is, to thinking outside of the ‘boxes’ that are well-established for scientific opinion and public opinion, respectively.

What are known collectively as ‘the media’ have become much more diversified during the two decades in which SRI has emerged on the international scene. Generally speaking, the internet-based communications – websites, social media, and email – have proved to be more helpful for getting SRI known and accepted than the older, more traditional media – newspapers, radio, and television. This chapter reviews the roles of the respective means of communication in the SRI story, making ‘the media’ more than an abstraction.

A generalization that can be made from SRI experience, looking across the different media, is that it is very hard to predict which media, and which specific uses thereof, will have the most effect, or indeed any effect at all, on how people think and act. These days there is such an abundance of information flowing in so many directions and from multiple sources that what information will register with whom, and with what consequences, seems like a random outcome. One can say that having more information flowing raises the likelihood that some of it will have some impact. But the SRI story suggests that most of the influence of the media on behavior and results rests more on chance than on being predictably causal.



We start with radio because one of the first examples of significant media coverage for SRI was a one-minute item that the World Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation transmitted from Nepal in 2005. A South Asia correspondent for the BBC, Charles Haviland, who had gone into the field in southeastern Nepal, reported on introduction and impacts of SRI there. He described the work that Rajendra Uprety was doing with farmers in the terai (plains) of Nepal, with pictures from his venture into the field included in the on-line version of the radio report that the BBC posted on-line.[1] The first page of the on-line report is shown below.

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We have no way of knowing how much effect this report had on the spread of SRI in Nepal or anywhere else in South Asia. However, somehow it caught the attention of an American software entrepreneur living in Canada, David Galloway. Dave contacted us at Cornell and asked how he could support SRI efforts, offering to provide some personal support for SRI initiatives that needed some modest funding.

The timely and flexible grants that Dave provided for SRI initiatives in Zambia, India and Iraq, amounting to $35,000, were used both quickly and effectively in these countries. Dave was the kind of ‘angel’ for SRI whom we wish would have been more numerous. Charles Haviland was subsequently reassigned to Sri Lanka, and we lost this SRI link, but his reporting was very helpful at the time, and not just in Nepal.

Two reports on SRI were broadcast over the National Public Radio network in the US, the first in 2009. During Beth Hoffman’s travel in India for the NPR radio series ‘Living on Earth,’ she came across SRI in the state of Odisha and put together a very compelling report on SRI impacts there.[2] We did not see any effect from this reporting, however, probably because few listeners in the US are rice farmers. But this report did get contact established with Beth, who in turn acquainted a Berkeley colleague, the well-known author on plant and other subjects, Michael Pollan, with SRI, which may have been helpful.

In 2013, there was another report on NPR about SRI in Bihar state of India by Sam Eaton, which gave a very concrete picture of SRI and its benefits.[3] Although SRI-Rice did not have any feedback from listeners to these reports, possibly the number of visits to the SRI website increased as a result, since NPR posted a link to the SRI website in its on-line version of these stories.

In 2014, Bettina Weiz with Bavarian Radio 2 (Bayrische Rundfunk) in Germany contacted SRI-Rice before she traveled to India, and we put her in touch with SRI colleagues in Bihar state. Bettina produced two audio programs on SRI reporting on SRI experience there, plus a 6-minute video that was aired on the Bavarian television channel. These were beautifully presented, but we have no idea what impact they had. We do know that Bettina’s reports were reproduced by some other media in Germany for onward dissemination.[4] In 2015, the German national radio service Deutsche Welle broadcasted and posted a positive story on SRI impacts in Tanzania.[5]

The US international radio service Voice of America made several broadcasts on SRI over the years, starting on July 7, 2005 with ‘Reports of Gains Bring Attention to Rice-Growing Methods.’ Another in 2010 was titled ‘Grow More Rice with Less Water, Fewer Chemicals.’

In the Philippines, Obet Verzola had a regular early morning radio show on SRI for a number of years that was broadcast over a Catholic radio station. Jesse Las Marinas also had a radio show with a lot of SRI content that was transmitted on the radio station of the Iglesia Ni Cristo church based in Quezon City.[6]

There were surely many other radio broadcasts about SRI in the various countries. Most would have been in a local language that was listened to by a limited audience. But such communication would have been more effective for farmers than if broadcast in English. We know only a fraction of all of the radio reports that there have been about SRI, so here we have to settle for an overview of international reporting. 



Television reporting on SRI has been less than on radio, although colleagues in several countries such as Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya and Vietnam have been able to get programs on SRI broadcast by their respective national television stations.[7] Because SRI is a very visual subject, it lends itself to television and video presentation.

We had hoped that the popular science television series Nova produced in Boston for public television stations across the US would do a program or a series of programs on SRI. Some very beautiful and impactful television programs could have been made on SRI, but producing television shows is very expensive, and with no funding to offer, this hope remained unfulfilled.[8]

One example of television being supportive of SRI dissemination was seen in Kenya in 2013 when the popular TV series Shamba Shake-Up devoted part of one of its weekly programs to SRI as an innovation. This program was in its third year of broadcasting to audiences in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda when it featured SRI.

The purpose of the Shamba Shake-Up television series, which reaches over 400,000 households across East Africa, is to give practical advice for improving farms and increasing yield, so there should have been a very appropriate viewership for the presentation. But we do not know what impact this screening had on adoption.[9] Below is a screen shot from the television show of Shamba Shake-Up staff talking with a farmer in the Mwea irrigation scheme.

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A much less expensive means for communicating visually has been to produce videos on SRI that can be posted at no cost on platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. This has proved to be one of the most effective means for SRI dissemination.

Nobody can keep track of all the SRI videos that have been produced by NGOs, government agencies, donor agencies, and motivated individuals, including farmers, that have been posted on-line. This makes SRI images and narratives available free to anyone in the world who can connect to the internet. Good examples of government-produced videos on SRI can be seen from Malawi and Tanzania.[10]

SRI-Rice maintains a dedicated channel on YouTube for calling attention to SRI videos.[11] Over 1,300 videos on SRI have been found on-line during the past decade which were organized into 40+ playlists. These videos that come from or are on nearly 50 countries present how-to instructions, documentation of farmers’ experiences, interviews, demonstrations of SRI equipment, and adaptations of SRI principles to other crops.[12]

About half of these videos have been from India where the most extensive use of this medium has been made for SRI communication. By the end of 2019, SRI-Rice’s YouTube channel had over 1,000 subscribers and showed a cumulative number of over 190,000 cumulative views of its own videos and over 90,000 views of the videos on its playlists. This number does not include the viewing of videos posted on other platforms or on institutional websites.

Some of the videos posted on-line are far from professional, but they communicate the enthusiasm and dedication of farmers and NGO fieldworkers regarding SRI that has been an important impetus for its acceptance. Other videos have been produced with great professionalism, aesthetic beauty, and well-worded soundtracks. In Chapter 34 we report on the contributions made to SRI acceptance by a small British company Flooded Cellar Productions which has made SRI one of the focuses of its video work for development.[13]

The voluminous and prize-winning videography on SRI of Digital Green should also be mentioned. This is a global development organization based in India that creates a wide range of environmentally-oriented videos.[14] On the SRI-Rice website where over 200 videos available on-line are listed, one-third of these were produced by Digital Green, often in cooperation with an India NGO.[15] There was also an attractive video on SRI made in 2016 by Lotus Foods that was shown on American Airlines flights within the US.[16]

One can get an appreciation of SRI as a worldwide phenomenon by googling the words ‘system rice intensification youtube’ and looking at any of videos selected at random from the many dozens listed. A more organized way to explore SRI visually is to select among the videos posted on the YouTube channel playlists which SRI-Rice has constructed according to geographical locations and topics.[17]

A visual means for sharing SRI information that is not as dramatic as television or videos is the medium of powerpoint. This has been important because, as suggested above, SRI is a very visual subject. Seeing the phenotypical differences between the roots, canopy, and panicles of SRI-grown rice plants contrasted with conventionally-grown rice is often as persuasive as statistics that quantify the observable differences.

Powerpoint software is now almost universally available and has been used extensively for SRI presentations around the world. SRI-Rice has uploaded over 500 slideshows, posters, and presentations on SRI from dozens of countries on the SlideShare hosting service.[18] The number of views that these presentations get each month is usually 4,000 to 6,000, making it one of the most widely-used media for communication about SRI.

SlideShare is also a good medium for extending the ‘life’ of posters on SRI prepared for professional meetings. Posters are usually prepared with Powerpoint software, so they can be easily uploaded to and downloaded from the SlideShare platform. Video presentations or all sorts are a medium increasingly available. One of the most pleasant surprises in this regard was the appearance of an unambiguously supportive video produced for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2019.[19]


The first major article published on SRI was in the Bangkok Post in Thailand in 2004. The first part of this narrative story is shown below. Because the Post has no Agriculture section, the story was printed with other articles in the Food section, although a doubling of yield might not be of much interest to most gourmets. Even with a full two-page spread and several attractive pictures, the article had no apparent impact, perhaps because few of the readers of the Food section were involved in rice farming.[20]

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Probably no newspaper has paid more attention to SRI than The Hindu which is published in Chennai, India. This paper has a national circulation although its reporting focuses particularly on southern India. Starting about 2007, it ran one or more stories on SRI practically every month, reporting on local achievements and often on record-setting yields. While many Hindu reporters contributed articles on SRI, M.J. Prabu was the most active journalist who searched out stories that would be of interest to the paper’s readers, many of them farmers. The Hindu newspaper probably had more impact on SRI acceptance in southern India than the extension services of several state government there which gave farmers more formal instruction.

The Times of India, a major national newspaper published from New Delhi, also ran a number of articles on SRI over the years that communicated to a readership mostly not involved in agriculture.[21] Then there were hundreds of articles on SRI that appeared in state or regional newspapers, often in the respective Indian languages. These would have been more effective for reaching the grassroots, but we have no way to characterize or quantify their impact.

Internationally, the reporting that probably had the most impact was a story in 2008 in the Science section of the New York Times. A Times science reporter William Broad came to Ithaca for a day to gain direct information on SRI and then spent several weeks getting background and other material for the article.[22]

This reached a wide readership because stories in the New York Times get circulated around the world and are translated into several languages. SRI’s start in Ecuador resulted from the NYT story.[23] And visa approval for me to visit North Korea in 2009 to talk about SRI there was expedited by a diplomat in the DPRK mission to the United Nations in New York who had read the Times article.

Unfortunately, when the Times writer asked his editor to do a follow-up story on SRI, this request was not approved. It is not clear why SRI has been ignored by the New York Times since 2008, but this editorial posture is not different from most other newspapers.

An international magazine that we hoped would pay some attention to SRI was The Economist, published in Britain with one of the widest and most influential readerships of any publication in the world. Twice we were contacted by Economist reporters who expressed interest in knowing more about SRI to write a story; but in neither case did anything result. Meanwhile, The Economist continued publishing several stories each year reporting approvingly on the work of IRRI and other research institutions that were seeking to advance ‘modern’ agriculture by more capital-intensive means.

In England, the environmental editor of The Guardian, John Vidal, took an interest in SRI. He called me in Ithaca in early 2012 for a long telephone discussion after hearing about Sumant Kumar’s super-yield with SRI methods in India (Chapter 10). John then traveled to India later in 2012 to investigate the situation in Bihar for himself. The article written on the basis of what he saw and learned there, published in February 2013, was challenged vociferously by Prof. Yuan Longping (Chapter 21), but John continued to follow and report on the SRI story.[24] His initial article, translated into German and re-published in Munich three months after its publication in London, led to the German radio and television reporting on SRI noted above, an example how unpredictable media events can be.[25]

The Canadian mass media corporation, Thomson-Reuters, ran several features on SWI in Bihar state of India and on SRI in Kenya and Mali. These are syndicated widely for publication in many countries through its well-known and respected news service. One Reuters report in 2010 described how an NGO was introducing SRI in the Indian state of Assam to reduce the trafficking of young girls by poor rural families.[26] In 2016, the Epoch Times, which has a worldwide circulation, featured SRI in its weekend edition with a long front-page story.[27]

Despite such coverage, and there was much more than can be mentioned here and many times more that we do not know about,[28] there was little evident impact from newspaper reporting, except for that of The Hindu, which carried an impressive stream of stories for over a decade.

This may be ascribed to the fact that most of the newspapers are read mostly by non-farmers and by few rice farmers. For the most part, newspaper stories about SRI have appealed to readers’ curiosity with little follow-up, except for individuals like Jorge Gil Chang in Ecuador. As discussed next, there has been more impact from the newer electronic media, without which SRI could not have gained as much acceptance as it has achieved in just two decades.



Twenty years ago when SRI first started moving beyond Madagascar, the world of communication was much different from what it is now. The internet was operational, but it was not as widely accessible as it would become. ‘The digital divide’ was much talked about and lamented. In thinking about getting SRI known around the world, we wondered at first whether information about SRI could be gotten to farmers through the emergent electronic means, and farmers were the audience that we were most concerned with reaching.

Such concerns proved misplaced as access to the internet exploded, with millions of farmers, although still a minority of them, gaining access to websites, email, videos, market reports, etc. over the past two decades. A variety of messaging services facilitate farmers being in touch with each other and cooperating among themselves. The SRI story would be quite different today if communication had remained dependent on conventional ‘snail mail,’ newspaper stories, and only face-to-face conversation. Below, for example, is a picture that was emailed to me at Cornell in 2013 by a young farmer in Tamil Nadu state of India who wished to show me his robust SRI crop.[29]

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The SRI website was set up in 2001 by Lucy Fisher while she was working with CIIFAD as its outreach specialist. The website was transferred from CIIFAD to SRI-Rice when this center was established in 2010.[30] Currently the SRI-Rice site has about 3,000 users a month from usually around 80 countries. The number of sessions each month is about 4,000, viewing 6,000 to 7,000 pages. Thanks to instant and easy computer translation, the SRI home page can now be read in over 100 languages.

SRI-Rice cooperates with a number of national networks that are discussed in Chapter 36. Some of these, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have their own websites, and there are a number of organizational websites for SRI.[31] There are a regional website for Africa and plans for regional websites in Asia and Latin America.[32] Some national SRI networks that do not have the resources to maintain their own website have on-line discussion groups for communication or use dedicated software for networking among members’ smartphones, as discussed below.

The SRI website maintained by CIIFAD and then by SRI-Rice has probably had the largest overall impact on the acceptance of SRI. Many colleagues found their way to SRI through the website. I will never forget how the agricultural and environmental scientist Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1998 to 2004, initially skeptical about SRI because of its divergence from Green Revolution thinking, told me that after consulting the SRI website, he could understand and accept SRI’s merits for improving food production, and he became supportive of the innovation.[33] The website when visited by an NGO in Japan led to its contributing to the SRI work of Khidhir Hameed in Iraq. So, there are many ways in which the site can be useful, and it is multi-lingual.

The website itself contains more information than anyone can absorb or than anyone needs. But it is a freely accessible knowledge resource, essential for an innovation that is essentially knowledge, and its content can be accessed for free according to any visitors’ interests with multiple tabs and a search engine, with a picture gallery and links to training manuals, videos and powerpoints, as well as the most current information.

Discussion Groups

A very low-cost way to facilitate communication is to set up electronic groups whose postings can be accessed from computers or smartphones when connected to the internet. The oldest, largest and most active of these groups is the Google Group in India which is managed by Nemani Chandrasekharan of WASSAN on behalf of India’s National Consortium for SRI (NCS).[34] There is a long history of cooperation between this group and SRI-Rice. In Latin America, there is a Google group for SRI/SICA operating in Spanish language which SRI-Rice set up in 2012 and which is now managed by IICA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, in cooperation with SRI-Rice.[35]

In Indonesia, Nepal and Philippines, there are Yahoo groups that connect SRI colleagues, and WhatsApp groups in Malaysia and Nigeria rely on connectivity among phones rather than among computers.[36] There is also a Google group based in India that shares information on sugarcane intensification (SSI).[37] These are all convenient means for sharing and disseminating information.

Social media

This category of electronic communication has probably had the most dramatic expansion in recent years, with the rapid worldwide spread of persons using Facebook, Twitter and other services for social networking. SRI-Rice has maintained several of Facebook pages. Its Facebook page has 2,500 followers, while its Equipment Innovators Exchange has 350 members around the world, mostly in Southeast Asia. An SRI West Africa Facebook page has over 2,000 members, and the SICA America Latina page on Facebook has over 1,000 followers. SRI’s Twitter page has over 1,750 followers. A Facebook network set up in Myanmar in 2019 by Thein Su quickly signed up over 300 subscribers. In the Philippines, for some time the SRI-Pilipinas coordinator Obet Verzola sent daily lessons limited to 160 characters via SMS (short messaging service) to farmers regarding SRI practices.[38]

The social media that specifically address and support research on SRI have been important for gaining acceptance for this innovation. The SRI-Rice website has incorporated the Zotero system for uploading many hundreds of research publications, categorizing them and making them available.[39] Uncopyrighted or open-access material is available from the website, but also copyrighted material can be shared from the website among persons who have become members of the SRI Research Group. By 2020 the number of publications (journal articles, theses, etc.) archived on the SRI website was over 1,700.[40]

Many SRI colleagues have joined ResearchGate, a free social networking site for scientists and researchers that links over 15 million persons through its software.[41] It enables researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and seek collaboration. Its services are of special value to researchers in developing countries whose access to library facilities and international travel is limited. Subscribers get weekly feedback on how many and which other researchers are accessing and citing their respective publications, although cumulative data are not so readily available.[42] Even if we cannot put firm numbers on the impact of this social-networking medium for researchers, it has been an important channel for communication on SRI.

Mobile phones

Communication is still the main use for mobile phones, but other applications are being developed all the time, so other uses are likely to emerge over time. Mobile banking services are not likely to be as useful for SRI as for other agricultural technologies that require the purchase of inputs and often bank loans. Probably disseminating market information, and opportunities for SRI producers, especially of specialty rices (heirloom varieties, organically-grown rice), to cooperate within the larger rice market may become valuable for farmers.

A novel use of mobile phones for SRI dissemination has been reported from Togo, where a game that youth can play on their cell phones has been adapted for the promotion of SRI at the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture.[43]


Assessing the significance of this means of communication is probably the most difficult of all. Blogs with substantive content and reporting on SRI have been archived on the SRI-Rice website, but it is not possible to keep track of all the reports flowing through these home-made channels. Two examples are noted here.

  • In 2012, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangkok posted a blog report on SRI: ‘Analysis: Why rice intensification matters in Asia.’[44] It was written like press release, but was not designated as such. It was an account of SRI, having interviewed eight persons in different countries. There was no indication of who wrote the piece, perhaps an intern who had done a good job of researching materials available on the internet and then followed up with telephone interviews. It was something of a mystery how and why this appeared on the blog of a UN agency that has no responsibility for agriculture. But it was helpful to have such an account freely available on the web.

  • In 2016, a widely-circulated blog maintained by Danielle Nierenberg, founder and president of Food Tank, a think tank for food,[45] posted a long written interview with me on SRI, summarizing what was known about this innovation and what were its impacts on food production.[46] This blog like a preceding Food Tank blog on SRI in 2014 elicited no comments on the Food Tank website, although the blogs may have prompted more visits to the SRI-Rice website in the following weeks. However, there was one very valuable connection made through the 2014 blog that showed how unpredictable and beneficial this mode of communication can be, described in the box below.

Shortly after the Food Tank blog was posted on-line, Danielle Nierenberg, the president of Food Tank, received an email response from Gerald Aruna in Sierra Leone (Chapter 25). She forwarded the email to me right away. Gerald had written to tell her that he had been working with SRI methods in his home area since 2003, for more than 10 years, and said that his experience confirmed what had been reported in the blog.

Gerald had started using SRI methods after he received, by a circuitous route, a copy of the ‘how-to’ paper on SRI that we had written in Madagascar in 2002.[47] Gerald was working with the St. Joseph Fathers at their rural training institute at Lunsar in northern Sierra Leone, and the paper had reached him through its network of priests who work in Africa.
Gerald, who was himself a farmer as well as a trainer, had tried out the new methods for himself. But for the first several years, his results were not as good as reported from Madagascar, mostly because he had no access to a mechanical weeder that could aerate the topsoil around rice plants, which is a key factor in SRI results. After Gerald was able to get a weeder from a local technical training institute, his results became more impressive, and he became fully convinced about the methodology. He also got trainees in the Josephite training facility to fabricating weeders as part of its vocational education program.

Gerald started to do SRI training in nearby villages on his own and prepared two manuals on SRI based on his experience as well as on the ‘how-to’ manual, putting in pictures of SRI rice being grown under Sierra Leone conditions. These manuals he sent to Food Tank, and Danielle sent them on to SRI-Rice, so that they could be posted on the SRI-Rice website for others to read and use.[48] Without the Food Tank blog, Gerald would probably still be working without any connection to the SRI community. Once having such connection, he was designated and supported as an SRI ‘champion’ in Sierra Leone under the WAAPP program for SRI in West Africa.

This account of our experience and the interaction with Gerald Aruna supports a conclusion that may seem already old-fashioned: that email has probably been the most effective and most essential medium for gaining acceptance and understanding of SRI, even though it is the first, simplest, and cheapest of the digital media. Email messages can be sent or copied to more than one recipient, indeed to dozens of persons. However, email remains mostly a ‘retail’ means of communication rather than a ‘wholesale’ means like the other media.

There are evident economies of scale that are achieved with websites and social media and also through the mass media of newspapers, radio and television. But for impact, the direct personal communication of email has been the most motivating, assuring, and responsive. Much of the spread and acceptance of SRI has been facilitated by the quick, inexpensive and versatile medium of email, amplified by attachments of manuscripts, research papers, data sets, videos, powerpoints, or pictures.

*    *    *    *   *    *    *

To summarize experience and observations with the media, the combination of SRI websites accompanied by a huge flow of emails between and within countries, augmented by a variety of other media like journals and social media, has driven the acceptance of SRI ideas and effects over time. This is not to overlook or minimize the importance of personal contacts and communications, or the impact of observable and measurable SRI results from the field. But the ‘wholesale’ impacts of the internet followed up and reinforced by ‘retail’ email communication have been fundamental for spread, although sometimes there were first individual inquiries by email that got followed up by other, larger-scale media.

One might have expected that information and evidence on how greater crop yield and robustness could be achieved by making reductions in seeds, water, fertilizer, and agrochemicals would have elicited more interest and response around the world than it did. But given the typical inertia that constrains people’s thinking and practices, one could argue that SRI has had a lot of impact already. Except for the use of emails to communicate directly with others, there has been a lot of ‘casting bread upon the waters’ as an act of faith, anticipating or just hoping that there would be some reception and response.[49]

In this regard, researching, writing and publishing scientific articles is not very different from communicating through the various media, especially now that there is such a huge volume of publication these days in so many diverse journals, many of which are quite marginal. The expansion of communication in and through journals has not been as great as what we have seen in the public realm, where so many different kinds of media are now distributing large amounts of information with centrifugal pull stronger than centripetal attraction.

Purveyors of facts, figures and advice need to be mindful of the cacophony of both scientific and general information that is in circulation these days. For this reason, those participating in the SRI enterprise have paid particular attention to media that can get information to farmers and to those who work most closely with farmers, seeking to get SRI methods tried out on the ground where farmers can see the results of these for themselves and can assess their results even if roughly.

Scientific information even in respected journals often takes years to become widely known and utilized in practice. While this is widely recognized, the most common response has been simply to increase the volume of research and publication, or to try to publicize results widely through the media that reach general audiences. This in itself is not likely to be a successful strategy.

In the SRI story, there were a lot of efforts made to disseminate knowledge through scientific publications and the mass media, but the basic concern has been to get the innovation understood and assessed at field level, appreciating and using whatever support could be gleaned from government extension services, NGO programs, policy makers, private actors, and others.

This was all part of a rather convoluted process. But having few resources and little power to put behind the innovation, pursuing such an opportunistic strategy was necessary. That the use of the electronic media – websites, social media, email, etc. – was inexpensive made this a key part of the strategy to gain acceptance of SRI knowledge and practice.


[1] Nepal farmers reap bumper harvest,’ BBC World News, Sept. 2, 2005.

[2] ‘Growing rice debt free,’ Living on Earth, Public Radio International, April 3, 2009.

[3] ‘Hope in a controversial rice-growing technique,’ Public Radio International, July 25, 2013. In January 2019, NPR broadcast a 4-minute report from Nepal on SRI impacts there by Danielle Preiss, ‘Nepalese farmers boost yields by sowing fewer plants and cutting water.’

[4] ‘Reisanbau nach der SRI-methode – Starke wurzeln, bessere erträge’ (Rice growing with SRI methods – Strong roots, better yields), Radio Bayern 2, June 12, 2014. The radio program (24:30) is on-line in German. The Radio Bayern video featured one of the farmers in Darveshpura village who had a record yield in 2011 (Chapter 10). Because the video was done in the spring season rather than in summer, however, it showed SWI wheat rather than SRI rice, while the farmer’s narratives was on SRI. Not many viewers in Germany may have noticed the switch of wheat for rice. In 2014, the program was redistributed through the Draw-a-Smile blog, and again the next year by the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, adding its own editorial comments criticizing monopoly capitalism.

[5] ‘Tanzania embraces new system of growing rice,’ December 20, 2013.

[6] Iglesia Ni Cristo is an independent Christian church, third largest denomination in the Philippines. In 2018, Jesse interviewed Lucy Fisher (SRI-Rice) and Anizan Isahak (Malaysia) on one of the Iglesia Ni Cristo TV channel shows. I remember Obet Verzola interviewing me for his radio program at 6 a.m. in a waiting room at the Manila airport on morning before I left on an early flight back to the US.

[7] An example is this report on SRI leading off a national television news broadcast in Iraq, from minute 1:40 to 7:00. Khidhir Hameed is shown conducting a farmer field school and discussing mechanical transplanting with SRI methods and how to increase soil organic matter.

[8] In March 2020, a British filming company TwoFour contacted SRI-Rice about filming a segment on SRI in India for its series ‘Follow the Food’ for broadcast on BBC television. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic put travel plans on hold, but the planning continued. A beautifully filmed, 3-minute segment on SRI was broadcast on BBC television in February 2021.

[9] Carrie Young, an associate of SRI-Rice while doing her PhD studies in Communication at Cornell, was able to get Shamba Shape-Up interested in featuring SRI while she was doing summer fieldwork in Kenya. The episode that featured SRI (Year 3, Episode 3) focused on SRI from minutes 1:00 to 7:00. ‘Shamba’ is the Swahili word for ‘homestead.’

[10] These videos, produced by the Government of Malawi and World Bank and by the Government of Tanzania and FAO, were posted on YouTube after being broadcast on national television.


[12] This is accessible at

[13] Here is a listing of Flooded Cellar videos.

[14] Digital Green was founded by Rikin Gandhi after he had completed a graduate degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2017, the organization received USAID’s Digital Development Award and also other awards from Google and Microsoft. Here is an example of the dozens of videos that Digital Green has produced on SRI in India. See also this blog on Digital Green’s methodology for using video at village level posted on the New York Times website. In 2010, Rikin assisted with displaying an SRI video at the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa.

[15] See

[16] This is also noted in Chapter 34. It can be viewed on YouTube at:

[17] For these listings, see

[18] See the Wikipedia entry on SlideShare for more information on this service.

[19] The video can be viewed at this link.

[20] ‘Something old, something new,’ a two-page feature on SRI in the Chiangmai area published in the Bangkok Post, Sept. 14, 2004, no longer posted on the internet. Its link was: Unfortunately, no author’s name was given, so we do not know who wrote this piece.

[21] The Times of India published a report, for example, on the visit of economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz to an organic farm in Bihar state where a world-record potato yield had recently been achieved. ‘Nalanda farmers inspiration for others,’ Jan. 13, 2013. The article referred to the generic ‘System of Root Intensification’ and its low-cost improvements for rice, onions, potatoes and other crops.

[22] William J. Broad, ‘Food revolution that starts with rice,’ written as a ‘Scientist at Work’ feature in the Science section of the New York Times, June 17, 2008.

[23] A Spanish translation of the article was circulated in Latin America by a US NGO, the Foods Resource Bank, and it prompted Jorge Gil Chang in Guayaquil, who had heard about SRI and was interested in it, to take action and start trials and demonstrations (Chapter 25). A newspaper in Guayaquil, El Universo, published the article, ‘Crisis de alimento: Real e imaginado’ (June 22, 2008).

[24] ‘India’s rice revolution,’ The Guardian, Feb. 16, 2013; and ‘India’s rice revolution: Chinese scientist questions massive harvests,’ The Guardian, Feb. 23, 2013. The next year, Vidal reported on an even higher SRI yield in Tamil Nadu state, ‘Miracle grow: Indian rice farmer uses controversial method for record rice crop ,‘The Guardian, May 12, 2014. In 2018, Vidal contributed a story on SRI to the Huffington Post, ‘A new farming technique using drastically less water is catching on: But not everyone is on board,’ May 25, 2018; and when reporting from the climate summit in Poland (COP24) seven months later, John cited SRI as a specific strategy already available to counter climate change, The Guardian, Dec. 11, 2018. At the end of January 2019, Vidal wrote a story on SRI in Thailand for The Guardian after attending a meeting of the Sustainable Rice Platform in Singapore.

[25] ‘Ein Körnchen Wahrheit,’ Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, May 20, 2014.

[26]  Nita Bhalla, ‘New farming method boosts food output for India’s poor,’ March 30, 2010; Isaiah Espisu, ‘Water-sparing rice farming proves viable in Kenya,’ March 25, 2013; Dieneba Deme, ‘Can hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?’ Oct. 18, 2018, also distributed in French language. The report from Assam is referred to in Chapter 15.

[27] ‘Going against the grain,’ Epoch Times, Dec. 2, 2016. This newspaper is associated with the Falun Gong, a religious sect with an international following and strong opposition from the Chinese government. It has also been involved since then in the dissemination of conspiracy theories, some favored by President Donald Trump, so it is not part of the ‘mainstream’ press. An indication of the paper’s wide circulation is that my son’s mother- and father-in-law saw and picked up the issue on SRI in a Brisbane bookstore in Australia. There was no feedback on the article to indicate that it had any impact on people’s thinking and actions.

[28] There are hundreds of newspaper articles posted on the SRI-Rice website under the respective country webpages.

[29] Moghanraj Yadhav, a farmer in Nagipattanam, Tamil Nadu, subsequently set up a local NGO called VAANGHAI to promote SRI and other agroecological practices. He is obviously more sophisticated than most small farmers, but he represents what greater education and more exposure to the rest of the world are bringing to farming communities in many countries.

[30] The link for this is currently:

[31] India: one maintained by WASSAN and another maintained by the Tata Trust; Japan, maintained by J-SRI; Malaysia: maintained by SRI-MAS; and Taiwan: maintained by the CA-SRI group there. Organizations with SRI information include the Better U Foundation and the World Bank.

[32] The SRI-Africa network which Bancy Mati has set up, based at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi, Kenya, launched a website in 2019. As noted, a website for West Africa was set up under Phase I of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), and will presumably be continued under a Phase II. A Spanish-language Latin American website is being managed by IICA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, in cooperation with SRI-Rice.

[33] This Gordon communicated to me personally when we met at the World Food Prize symposium in 2010. His book One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? (Cornell University Press, 2012) had five pages of positive description of SRI, even though the book was mostly oriented to updated Green Revolution thinking. Gordon had been encouraged by his Sussex colleague Robert Chambers to take a look at the evidence on SRI available on the website, which to his credit he did.

[34] This group uses the name Jai-SRI, which has the double meaning of ‘victory for SRI’ and ‘organic SRI.’

[35] This group was initially managed by Rena Perez in Cuba, but it was difficult to service this without institutional support, which IICA began giving in 2016. The group is now managed by Diddier Moreira and Kelly Witkowski.

[36] Here are the links for Indonesia (566 subscribers in November 2018), Nepal (69 subscribers), Philippines, (240 subscribers), and West Africa.

[37] This group was started under the WWF-ICRISAT program and continues under the auspices of AgSri.

[38] This was reported in the Panay News, April 10, 2018.

[39] This software was developed at George Mason University as open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and the archiving of research materials in PDF format. For more on Zotero, see this Wikipedia entry.

[40] This is the link for the SRI research inventory. The website for CORAF, the inter-governmental organization for West and Central Africa through which the WAAPP project on SRI (Chapter 8) was implemented, lists four reports on SRI, two of which had >26,000 and >13,000 hits by January 2021. So, there are also other websites with SRI information on the internet in addition to that of SRI-Rice.

[41] This service started in 2008 is based in Berlin. Here is a Wikipedia link for more information on ResearchGate.

[42] By 2020, my publications on SRI were receiving 300 or more ‘reads’ a week, and the total number of SRI reads was approaching 40,000.

[43] ‘Agriculture: Here for you, the new version of Simulgame,’ Togo Times, May 9, 2020. The game is available in French, Ewe and Kabye languages.

[44] This report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, dated April 24, 2012, is still available online.

[45] This NGO has an unusual mission statement. The Food Tank blog in newsletter format has some 350,000 subscribers. Food Tank had posted a blog on SRI in January 2014, ‘An agricultural revolution in the making? The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) gains support,’ and one in June 2013, but these elicited no comments that we know of.

[46] This 2016 blog, ‘New developments in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI),’ was posted June 7.

[47] This paper by Tefy Saina and myself, posted on the SRI-Rice website, was one of the first extension materials produced on SRI. Its transmission from Madagascar to Sierra Leone was the old-fashioned way through the Josephite Brothers network, person to person.

[48] Gerald’s manual for farmers and his guide for trainers are both posted on the Sierra Leone country page on the SRI-Rice website. Both manuals were published in hard copy by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

[49] ‘Casting bread upon the waters’ is advice from the Book of Ecclesiastes (11:1) in the Old Testament: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

PICTURE CREDITS: BBC World Service; Shamba Shape-Up (Nairobi); Bangkok Post; Moghanraj Yadhav (VAANGHAI).

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