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One way that SRI could gain more acceptance nationally or internationally was for it or the persons who championed it to receive national or international prizes. Some prizes are significant for the money that they bring with them, while others are valuable mostly for the status that they confer. Still others are valuable for both money and recognition. Of course, prizes that award money are much appreciated, but those giving acknowledgment also can have desirable effects.

Once the merits of SRI were being demonstrated in the field and its benefits were starting to spread, nominating SRI or its proponents for prizes became a low-cost way to gain visibility and acceptance for this innovation. Some awards could be received without making any application or nomination, but usually a process of nomination or application was involved.

As reviewed in this chapter, a number of efforts were made to put SRI or its proponents forward for awards where this seemed a reasonable use of time. Only some of these efforts could be successful, to be sure. But even when the application or nomination was not successful, just going through a rigorous selection process, with eminent jury members reviewing the application and learning about SRI, could advance appreciation of SRI. Even being a finalist for an award could gain some greater acceptance for SRI.



The most relevant and prestigious prize that SRI could receive, bringing with it an award of US$250,000, was the World Food Prize, established in 1986. It was set up through the efforts of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who himself had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in developing and promoting high-yielding wheat varieties to stave off hunger in many parts of the world. The World Food Prize, referred to informally as ‘the Nobel Prize for Agriculture,’ is awarded each year in October in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, around the time of World Food Day.[1]

While director of CIIFAD, I started attending the annual symposium that accompanies the World Food Prize’s award ceremony. This was in 1997, shortly after I had concluded from our experience in Madagascar that SRI was ‘for real.’ I spoke informally about SRI with a number of the persons whom I met there, some of whom were long-time friends. As I was still not myself fully persuaded and our evidence was still limited, I was not trying to promote SRI. I was encouraging others to evaluate the methods for themselves. If their results were like those that we were seeing in Madagascar, they and anyone else was welcome to use them.

At the WFP symposium in 1998, I had an opportunity to meet and talk with the newly-appointed director-general of IRRI, Dr. Ron Cantrell, and to acquaint him with SRI. This conversation led to an invitation to visit IRRI’s headquarters in the Philippines the next year and to discuss SRI with IRRI staff (Chapter 4).

Also during the 1998 symposium, by chance I got acquainted with Dr. Hans Herren, the WFP laureate in 1995. We happened to be seated together at one of the symposium dinners, and as Hans thinks agroecologically, he quickly understood SRI. After learning more about it, he became a welcome supporter of SRI in international circles.

A major benefit of participating in these symposia was the opportunity that they gave for networking, both with eminent persons in the food and agriculture sector and with a diverse cross-section of the international community concerned with reducing hunger and poverty -- NGO leaders, academics, administrators, farmers, and others.[2] Attending more than a dozen WFP symposia after 1997 facilitated a lot of networking and communication about SRI. Some of these contacts were sustained from year to year, so they were more than one-off conversations.     

In 2003, on behalf of CIIFAD and the SRI community I nominated the president and secretary of Association Tefy Saina, Sebastièn Rafaralahy and Justin Rabenandrasana, for the World Food Prize. It would have been more appropriate to nominate Fr. Henry de Laulaniè if he were still alive, but the prize is only given to someone who can receive the prize in person.

Sebastièn and Justin had devoted decades of their lives, selflessly and energetically, to improving food production in Madagascar to counter hunger and poverty, just as their friend and mentor Fr. Laulaniè had done. Sebastièn and Justin had taught me and others about SRI and its many facets. They fitted perfectly the description of the kind of person whom the WFP was established to honor: someone who had increased the quantity, quality and availability of food in the world.

Admittedly, the nomination might have been considered somewhat premature. There were only tens of thousands of households, not yet millions, who had become better able to nourish themselves and others by their use of SRI ideas. The committee that selects WFP laureates weighs heavily the quantitative impact of an innovation, not just its potential, and SRI was still starting its spread around the world.

Nominations for the World Food Prize are valid for three years, so in succeeding years we added information and testimonials to the nomination dossier for Sebastièn and Justin, as SRI use was spreading to more countries and within these countries. When the first nomination expired after 2006, we renominated Sebastièn and Justin for another three years, and each year we provided more evidence and more letters.

By 2009, the World Food Prize Foundation had a rather massive dossier of reports, research publications, and pictures on SRI, backed by a large collection of letters supporting the nomination from SRI colleagues and others around the world.[3] That year, the laureate was Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, an Ethiopian plant breeder based at Purdue University who had developed an improved variety of sorghum that was more drought-resistant and less susceptible to the terrible root-parasitic pest striga.

Dr. Ejeta’s innovation was certainly a worthy one, but the global impact on food production and availability from having a better variety of sorghum was not likely to match that of SRI, which was being used in over 25 countries and increasing the production of a major food crop consumed by billions of people. The World Food Prize jury, however, was more impressed with a high-tech advance in genetic potential than with low-cost improvements achieved by managing resources differently and better.

Unfortunately, in 2010 there was an internal division within Association Tefy Saina that put Sebastièn and Justin in an awkward position in Madagascar, and this made it unlikely that the World Food Prize selection committee would consider them to be exalted enough to receive the award. The World Food Prize Foundation likes its laureates to appear bigger-than-life on the world stage.[4] So we decided not to renew their nomination again, but I continued participating in WFP annual events for the networking and visibility for SRI that attendance made possible.

In 2010, for example, three NGOs (Africare, Oxfam America and WWF) brought SRI farmers from Mali, Vietnam and India to Des Moines for a side-event on SRI that they set up to reach symposium attendees directly.[5] Below is a picture of the three SRI farmers on a farm visit that they made outside Des Moines after the symposium concluded: Duddeda Suganavva from India on the left, Musa Ag Demba from Mali fourth from the left, and Le Ngoc Thach from Vietnam on the right. The three also traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with decision-makers at the World Bank, staff at the International Food Policy Research Institute, and US Congressional aides.

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As the use and impact of SRI was continuing to spread, some colleagues decided in 2012 that I should be nominated for the prize, partly because SRI-Rice was increasingly in need of financial support as its Better U Foundation funding was running out. Amir Kassam as convener for the Land Husbandry Group of the Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA) based in the UK submitted the nomination on behalf of the SRI community. When Amir invited the president of Oxfam America, Ray Offenheiser, to write a supporting letter for TAA’s nomination, Ray sent him what was really a letter of nomination, so there were two nominating organizations, and SRI-Rice assisted in assembling the materials for the supporting dossier.

Each nomination was to be accompanied by two letters that seconded the nomination. One was written by Prof. Ismail Serageldin, who had served previously in the World Bank as its vice-president for sustainable development and was acting as executive director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt. While with the World Bank, Ismail had also chaired the Management Committee for the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (Chapter 22) and had encouraged examination of SRI. A second letter was written by Dr. Rita Sharma, who at the time was Secretary to the Indian government’s National Advisory Council, while also serving as a member of IRRI’s Board of Trustees (Chapter 25).

Additional supporting letters were provided from other eminent persons in food and agricultural development, including Hans Herren, the World Food Prize laureate in 1995. In addition to extensive documentation and many research reports, there were supporting letters submitted from 34 countries around the world, attesting to the impacts that the knowledge and methods of SRI were having in their respective countries.[6]

Although the nomination was not successful in 2012, it was valid for two more years, so in 2013 and 2014 the dossier supporting it was updated and expanded. Then when the nomination was passed over for a third time in 2014, the chair of the selection committee, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, requested that the World Food Prize Foundation extend the SRI nomination for a fourth year. But it was not selected in 2015 either.[7]

Each year it was a disappointment that SRI did not receive the award because the prize money would have greatly expanded the limited resources of SRI-Rice. But probably more important, receipt of the prize would have conferred great legitimacy upon SRI, especially within the CGIAR system. Receiving this recognition would also have opened doors for financial support from various sources.

This may have been one reason why the prize was not given to SRI. It had been established, as noted above, by Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as ‘the father of the Green Revolution,’ and much of the support for the WFP operations and events came from agribusiness sources and allied organizations.[8] That SRI oriented agricultural theory and practice in a different direction from that charted by Green Revolution and CGIAR.

In 2016, it was decided not to re-apply for the prize. SRI’s recognition and acceptance had moved significantly beyond where it had been in 2003 or in 2012. There might be reason to apply for the prize at some time in the future, but after 2016, efforts were directed elsewhere.[9] The contacts that had been made through WFP events and the familiarization of the agricultural establishment with SRI through the nomination and review process had helped to make SRI better known. So, the World Food Prize was helpful even if the nominations between 2003 and 2015 were not successful.



This award given to SRI partners in 2005 was the first international recognition for SRI, as discussed in Chapter 17. Sponsored by the UN Development Program, the UN Environmental Program, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this award was intended to honor and encourage entrepreneurship for promoting environmental conservation and protection.[10] The first year of SEED Awards was 2005, and SRI received one of the first 5 awards given that year, selected by an international panel from among more than 250 applications.[11]

Olivia Vent had put together a partnership on behalf of CIIFAD and the SRI community, starting with CEDAC, an NGO that had developed a large farmer association in Cambodia, the Farmer and Nature Net, and with farmer associations in Madagascar and Sri Lanka. In these three countries, hundreds of farmers were using SRI methods to grow indigenous rice varieties with organic methods that made the grain produced particularly attractive to consumers. There was need to develop market connections and remuneration for these SRI farmers because otherwise as their production increased, they would not be properly compensated for their higher-quality rice, the growing of which benefited the natural environment (Chapter 12).

No monetary prize accompanied the SEED Award,[12] but it offered recipients a variety of services that had been pledged by companies and governments which supported the program. The new SRI global marketing partnership was assisted during the next year by six months of free advice and guidance provided by Christina Gradl, a young German professional on leave from McKinsey & Company, an internationally reputed consulting firm. The company gave its young staff paid leave to assist pro-bono organizations as part of their professional development.

The SEED Award enabled the consortium’s partner in Cambodia to secure a grant from the U.S. Department of State that helped it develop its export capabilities for SRI rice producers in Cambodia. This grant facilitated the launch of Cambodia SRI rice exports to Lotus Foods in the United States (Chapter 17).[13]  Below are Lotus Food packages for the first product lines of SRI rice from Cambodia, Indonesia and Madagascar that were distributed in the U.S.

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The preparation of the nomination for the SEED Award was handled by Olivia Vent, who had worked with CIIFAD before her early retirement from Cornell. She wanted to accelerate the acceptance of SRI by working on the ‘demand’ side of the equation rather than on the ‘supply’ side, which most of the rest of us were engaged with. She foresaw that increasing consumer demand for SRI rice and improving the remuneration that its producers received would give more incentive for farmers to take up the new production methods.

The SEED Award gave impetus for CIIFAD and its partners to work on establishing marketing channels for SRI-grown rice, especially of heirloom varieties grown organically. This also led to SRI-Rice’s cooperation with Lotus Foods.[14] Ten years later, in 2015 when the SEED Program selected what it considered to be the best awards that it had given during its first decade, the SRI award was chosen and recognized as one of its ‘top ten.’



In 2015, a global food and agribusiness company Olam International based in Singapore[15] created the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security, which seemed tailored for SRI. Indeed, the SRI application was selected for the first Olam Prize by an international jury assembled by the French Agropolis Foundation.[16] In March 2015, I accepted the Olam Prize on behalf of SRI-Rice and the SRI community at the 3ʳᵈ Global Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture held in Montpellier, France. A picture from the presentation ceremony is below.

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The prize gave SRI subsequent publicity, for example, through a blog on the Olam International website and through an ‘advertorial’ that Olam sponsored in Nature magazine in November 2016.[17] The prize included an award of US$50,000 to support further research on the innovation. SRI-Rice put these funds to use in strengthening its archiving of SRI research and supporting the global SRI research network that Lucy Fisher was assembling.

Winning the award also attracted some interest from Olam International itself, which hired Waled El-Khoby, the first rice scientist in Egypt to work with SRI methods, as its chief agronomist in Nigeria for two years. During this time the company saw that the new methods could give as much as a 70% increase in yield under Nigerian conditions. In his plenary address to the 5ᵗʰ International Rice Congress in Singapore in 2018, the CEO of Olam International, Sunny Verghese, spoke favorably about SRI, a message to the IRC audience that was appreciated at least by the SRI community.[18]



Even though some environmentally-oriented prizes eluded SRI, as noted below, several competitions that directly sought to lower greenhouse gas emissions to modify the forces of climate change were appreciative of what SRI can offer.

The most significant recognition was from Project Drawdown, a major undertaking put together and directed by Paul Hawken.[19] This involved an ambitious worldwide search and then a detailed evaluation to identify the most impactful initiatives or interventions that were already available to begin immediately reducing greenhouse gas emissions economically and effectively.

A large multidisciplinary team of over 90 specialists was assembled to evaluate means to reverse, without delay, the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Hundreds of proposed solutions were assessed in rigorous quantitative terms by the team, finally selecting the 100 most promising interventions that were available and economically viable. Each was expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 million tons of CO₂ equivalence over the next 30 years, either through lower gas emissions or by carbon sequestration.

SRI was chosen along with ‘improved rice cultivation’ for inclusion in this select list of practices for combating global warming.[20] They were ranked #53 and #24 out of the 100, considering SRI only in terms of its impact on greenhouse gas emission, not trying to account for any of the other benefits like water saving, improved soil health. or water quality.

In its analysis, Project Drawdown said that it combined the two – SRI and improved rice cultivation -- although it calculated and reported specific numbers on their respective contributions to greenhouse gas reduction and to the amount of additional income (value-added) that could be generated.[21]

The increased productivity of SRI methods can be seen from the researchers’ calculation of the respective profits per hectare projected between SRI and other improved rice cultivation methods. Compared to non-SRI methods of improving rice production, SRI would give more 30% additional income from the cultivation of 35% less area. Although this analysis was somewhat complex to follow, it made unambiguously clear that SRI belonged on this list.

For SRI acceptance, such calculations and validation were important to satisfy policy-makers that there was rigorous evidence supporting the claim that SRI cultivation was beneficial for the environment. It prompted Adam Parr in the Smith School of Entrepreneurship and Environment at Oxford University in the UK to begin assisting SRI dissemination in 2021 (Chapter 34).

In 2018, SRI-Rice applied for the Keeling Curve Prize, an annual competition recognizing and rewarding initiatives that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.[22] The competition distributes US$250,000 among ten prize-winners each year. The Indian NGO PRAGATI which promotes SRI use in Koraput district of Odisha state also applied for the award that year. The competition’s organizers suggested that the two applications be combined, to improve SRI’s chances of being selected from among the hundreds of applicants. So, SRI-Rice and PRAGATI joined forces and were awarded US$25,000, which they divided.

This funding permitted SRI-Rice to bolster participation by Asian colleagues representing their respective national SRI networks in the 5th International Rice Congress held in Singapore in October 2018, and also to join in a follow-on meeting of SRI network representatives that was hosted by the Malaysian network, SRI-Mas. The award helped PRAGATI to expand its work among tribal communities in Koraput district. So, winning this prize made an immediate and concrete contribution toward the mission of gaining SRI acceptance because of its environmental as well as its agricultural benefits.



International Awards

In the international sphere, one of the most prestigious prizes is the Ramon Magsaysay Award given annually to a handful of outstanding Asians by the Ramon Magsaysay Academy in the Philippines.[23] The SRI community was honored and pleased when Y.S. Koma, who led the introduction of SRI in Cambodia, was given the Magsaysay Award in 2012, being only the sixth Cambodian to receive this honor in 50 years.[24]

The next year, 2013, another colleague, Seng-Raw Lahpi, founder and director of the Metta Development Foundation in Myanmar, was similarly honored with the Magsaysay Award for her NGO’s work to improve rural livelihoods, including the introduction of SRI in two provinces in the northeastern part of the country. Seng-Raw had attended the first SRI international conference in 2002 in China and was a strong supporter of SRI in her country, although her recognition did not feature SRI as explicitly as did Koma’s. Both of these awards made colleagues in Cambodia and Myanmar better able to gain acceptance of SRI in their respective countries.

In 2011, our SRI colleague in Ethiopia, Sue Edwards, was given the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development in Sweden, being a co-recipient that year with Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations.[25] Sue’s recognition was for the innovative work of the Tigray Project that had been planned and implemented with communities in northern Ethiopia by the Institute for Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa which Sue and her husband Tewolde Egziabher founded in 1995.

When Sue learned about SRI in 2008, because little rice was grown in Ethiopia, she adapted the ideas that constitute this innovation to growing other crops. This methodology she re-named ‘planting with space,’ a designation easier to communicate in local languages than the more abstract term ‘System of Crop Intensification’.[26] Sue became one of the pioneers for SCI, and in 2011 she travelled to India to contribute to a national symposium on SCI organized by the Bihar state agency for promoting rural livelihoods.[27] This event, held in Patna, was the first such gathering convened anywhere.

In 2013, Bancy Mati, who headed up SRI introduction in Kenya, was given first prize at the 2ⁿᵈ African Agricultural Film Festival for a video that she had produced on SRI for the National Irrigation Board and Jomo Kenyatta University. This film competition was held in conjunction with the 6th African Agricultural Science Week convened in Accra, Ghana, so the screening of her video reached an audience from all across the African continent.[28]


National Awards

Over the years, SRI colleagues in several countries have been given national awards, starting with Rajendra Uprety in Nepal who received a cash award of US$ 20,000 in 2005 in the Nepal Development Marketplace competition sponsored by the World Bank, as reported in Chapter 31. This was one of the 20 awards made from among more than 1,000 applicants. The money from this award helped Rajendra to embark on a wider SRI promotion effort, having already gotten some remarkable SRI results in Morang district (Chapter 11). A picture from the award ceremony is seen below.

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In India, there is an annual selection of the best NGOs according to different categories of size. In 2006, PRADAN was chosen as ‘Large NGO of the Year’ for India. PRADAN was the first civil-society promoter of SRI in India, starting with its introduction of SRI in the state of West Bengal in 2003 (Chapter 7). Because PRADAN is such a large and diverse NGO, however, it should be noted that this recognition was given not just for its work with SRI.[29]

Two years later, a smaller NGO that has spearheaded SRI in Koraput district of Odisha state, PRAGATI, headed by Prabhakar Adhikari, was selected by the same program for national recognition as ‘Small NGO of the Year.’ This honor was given mostly for the benefits that PRAGATI was creating for poor tribal communities through its introduction of SRI.

This NGO has since then made efforts to spread SCI improvements for the production of finger millet (ragi) because Koraput communities in dry areas rely so much on this traditional cereal grain.[30] And as noted above, it was a co-recipient with SRI-Rice of the Keeling Curve Award in 2018, and three years later, PRAGATI was awarded the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize for its village-level work including SRI dissemination, with a prize of  2 million Japanese yen. Below is a picture from the 2008 award citation, of two farmers using mechanical push-weeders that had been provided by PRAGATI.[31]

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Also in 2008, another Indian NGO, BAIF, was recognized as ‘Large NGO of the Year’ for its work in marginalized communities.[32] BAIF was the first organization in India to promote SRI in the state of Gujarat. Because its program is larger and more diversified than PRAGATI’s, this award called attention to other impacts that BAIF was achieving in addition to fostering SRI. But this award also indicated the SRI was being advanced by some of the most outstanding NGOs in India.

One of the early personal awards for SRI leadership was given in the Indian state of Tripura to Baharul Majumdar for his role in spreading SRI there. In 2008 that state’s Department of Science and Technology gave Baharul its P.C. Ray Award for his SRI initiatives and for their success. This carried a cash award of Rs. 10,000 and a gold medal. The award itself was appreciated for its recognition of the value that SRI knowledge was contributing to the people and economy of Tripura state (Chapter 25).

In 2010, the Prime Minister of Iraq gave a national award to Khidhir Hameed in recognition of his research and extension work on SRI and water management in that country. Khidhir’s SRI activities had been prodigious, all the more commendable because they were undertaken under such difficult political-military circumstances, and they continued in spite of the adverse conditions.[33]

In Vietnam in 2012, as noted in Chapter 31, Ngo Tien Dung and his Plant Protection Division in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were given the Ministry’s first National Golden Rice Award for their promotion of SRI in that country. A second Golden Rice Award was given three years later to Dung and his Department for their work in developing and refining a new rice-potato rotational cropping system that combined elements of both SRI and Conservation Agriculture. In 2014, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment gave Dung its Environment Award for this work.

As reported in Chapter 32, two Malian managers for USAID projects were given a national award in 2010 for their effective work to promote SRI in Mali, the Tiwara (lion of development) prize based on nominations from traditional leaders in San district.

In 2012, the leadership of the Agriculture Department in the Indian state of Bihar was given the Prime Minister’s Award for its introduction and spread of SRI and SWI in this state. As discussed elsewhere, recognition for the introduction of SRI and SWI in Bihar should have been given to NGO partners, but credit for spread was also appropriate for the government department.

In 2014, T.M. Thiyagarajan, who conducted the first scientific evaluation of SRI in India, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by a leading daily newspaper in Tamil Nadu, Dinamalar, at the AgriExpo held that year in Thanjavur. This was in recognition of his research on and promotion of SRI for more than a decade, which drew attention to the merits of SRI.

That same year, TMT’s colleague Biksham Gujja, founder and chairman of the social enterprise AgSri (Chapters 25 and 34) was given a national award by the Millennium Alliance, a business and public-sector advisory firm based in New York City.[34] The Alliance jury particularly appreciated AgSri’s efforts to develop ‘water benefit standards’ that could qualify farmers for ‘water benefit certificates,’ which would have monetary value to reward farmers for their water-saving. This award was accompanied by a monetary prize of US$ 50,000, some of which Biksham used to support Bancy Mati’s initiative in Kenya to extend SRI in two irrigation schemes there where water saving could be demonstrated.

In 2015, Amod K. Thakur, a senior researcher at ICAR’s Indian Institute for Water Management in Bhubaneswar, was given the highest award of the Indian Society for Plant Physiology, the J.J. Chinoy Gold Medal. This recognized Amod’s decade of path-breaking agronomic research on SRI, discussed in Chapters 9, 11 and 20. Amod is seen below, on the left, receiving this award at the Plant Physiology Society’s annual meeting in New Delhi.

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In 2016, Anil Verma was selected for a national award, the Skoch Achievement Order of Merit, for his introduction and spread of SRI for rice production in Bihar State, followed by introducing SWI for wheat and of other versions of SCI for other crops. Anil’s work on SRI in Bihar was first as a team leader for PRADAN, and then as head of a new NGO, PRAN, that he established as an offshoot from PRADAN to work more concertedly on SRI and other agroecological innovations.

Then in 2018, Sabarmatee, founder and head of the NGO Sambhav in Odisha state of India, was given the Nari Shakti Award, India’s highest honor for women. This was for her work which included the promotion of SRI as well as the conservation of indigenous rice biodiversity. A picture of the President of India presenting Sabarmatee with this award is shown in Chapter 25. In 2015, the state of Odisha gave Sabarmatee its Living Legend award for her work with rural women and SRI.[35]

In India, many awards have been given to farmers for their achievements in using or innovating with SRI.[36] It was noted in Chapter 31 that the state of Tamil Nadu has given annual awards for the highest SRI yield at the initiative of that state’s Chief Minister. In 2018, this prize was given to R. Munusamy of Kullanur village in Dharmapuri district for his yield of 18.2 tons per hectare as measured by Department of Agriculture technicians.[37] The prize brought him 500,000 rupees (about US$ 7,000) and a gold medal. We cannot note here all of the farmer awards that have been conferred in India as they been very numerous. But we appreciate that these helped to raise consciousness about the merits of SRI, at least within their respective areas.



In 2006, we proposed SRI for an international competition that seemed almost designed for this innovation, the ALCAN Prize for International Sustainability, managed by the UK-based International Business Leadership Forum. The prize money put up by a Canadian mining and aluminum manufacturing company was US$ 1 million.[38] Not surprisingly, there were almost 200 applications for the prize, for which SRI was selected for the short list of 10 finalists. Winning this huge prize would have supported the SRI operation at Cornell for a number of years, enabling it to assist better a variety of SRI initiatives that were being taken all around the world.

Unfortunately for SRI, in the final selection for the 2006 prize, it was chosen as a runner-up, the prize going to a very worthy program in India, the Barefoot College. This NGO trains village women from India and other countries to become solar-power engineers who are able to install this alternative energy source at low cost for villagers even in remote areas.[39]

As it happened, the person who had managed the selection process talked with me casually during the reception in Zürich, Switzerland which honored all of the finalists, who were assembled for announcement of the selection. She told me how much she had liked our SRI application and confided that it had been among the few finalists most actively considered for the prize. Possibly it would have been chosen for the award, she said, except just before the selection committee made its decision, it received an anonymous  ‘poison pen’ letter from a member of the Cornell faculty who disparaged the claims of SRI.

My informant could not and did not identify who wrote the letter; indeed if it was sent anonymously she could provide no details. Probably she should not have told me even as much as she did. In any case, we have no idea who the writer was. This deprecation reflected the negative attitude, and possibly jealousy, that some faculty at Cornell felt toward SRI.

What we do know is that this was a huge blow to SRI. Receiving one million dollars, completely flexible for uses to make SRI better known and more widely utilized, would have changed radically the trajectory of this innovation. SRI colleagues never knew about the Alcan prize or how close SRI had come to winning it. They proceeded with whatever resources they could mobilize and put to good use in their respective countries.



Seeking to gain recognition as well as resources for SRI, we applied for a number of competitions that were not as well framed for this innovation as was the Olam Prize, which was specifically awarded for ‘innovation in food security.’ These other nominations did not bring the desired results, although they may have helped to get SRI better known within high-level circles because the juries that made the selections were usually quite eminent. It was worth something to have their members know about SRI and to appreciate its merits.

The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 as a kind of ‘alternative Nobel Prize,’ rewarding not scientific discoveries but rather efforts to make the world a better place.[40] The awards are given out in Stockholm each year as a counterpoint to the Nobel Prizes which are bestowed in Oslo.[41] The cash prize was usually about 50,000 euros, respectable but not huge. In 2014, Shambu Prasad at the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar (XIMB) nominated me for this award, with support from many others in the SRI community.

It turned out that for this award, SRI was ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ as the international jury for the Right Livelihood Award passed over SRI in 2014, and again in four subsequent years. The jurors that first year recommended that the SRI nomination be held over for consideration again in the following year. And it reached the same decision in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with updated materials being provided to the jury each year, and again in 2018. In this last year, after five years of consideration, the nomination was shelved by the jury, with an invitation to resubmit in three years’ time according to the award’s rules.

Also in 2014, SRI-Rice applied for the Carosso Premio, a prize given by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation in Paris. This foundation had a strong interest in sustainable food production, with improvements in human nutrition as a central concern of its philanthropy.[42] Extensive documentation was submitted, but this prize, which carried 100,000 euros, went elsewhere.

Also in 2014, colleagues from Cambodia, India, Kenya and Vietnam nominated me for the UN Environmental Program’s Champions of the Earth award.[43] This prize, established in 2005, is given for environmental leadership in the public, private or civil-society sectors. It carried no monetary award, but it would have given SRI more standing with environmental NGOs and agencies. This was probably aiming too high since the award was given in 2018 to Prime Minister Modi of India and President Macron of France, and most of the recipients have had considerable clout in government circles. This nomination got no traction and was not renewed.

The next year, Amir Kassam nominated me for the Zayed International Prize for the Environment which was given in alternate years by the Zayed International Foundation for the Environment based in Dubai. It carried an attractive award of US$ 1 million. This was a long shot too since previous recipients of the prize in the category of ‘global leadership on the environment’ included former President Jimmy Carter and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

In the category of ‘environmental action leading to positive change in society,’ the preceding recipients were not as eminent, so it seemed that SRI work could be a strong candidate. Ashok Khosla, who had served as president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2008-2012, wrote one of the letters of support. But an environment-friendly agricultural innovation was perhaps not what environmentalists had in mind when making their selection, as was likely the case also with the Champions of the Earth nomination.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Prize, given every two years, was much richer, with 400,000 euros for the winners in each of five categories, one being ‘development cooperation,’ and this seemed quite appropriate for the SRI community.[44] The prize was funded by the Bank of Bilbao (BBVA), the second largest bank in Spain, with operations also in Argentina and in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

In 2017, Oxfam America nominated SRI for this prize, pointing to the national and international networks that had been devised to promote SRI. These are extensive and some of the most innovative and impressive to be found, with large and demonstrable impacts. Many SRI colleagues wrote strong letters of support testifying to the extent and depth of development cooperation. However, this prize like the others eluded the SRI community. Receiving it would have given SRI work a big boost.

In 2018, we learned about the Tang Prize awarded in alternate years from Taiwan.[45] One of the Prize’s four categories is ‘sustainable development,’ and each prize carries a monetary award of US$ 1.33 million, with the possibility of another US$ 330,000 to support the laureate’s on-going research. A very strong case could make for SRI for its outstanding contributions to development in multiple ways, so this looked like an attainable prize.

The Tang Prize Foundation does not accept applications or nominations at large, however. It solicits nominations only from a select list of institutions around the world, most of them universities.[46] Fortunately, Cornell University was one of the institutions invited to make nominations. With the support of the College of Agriculture’s International Programs within which SRI-Rice operates, Cornell’s president, Dr. Martha Pollock, agreed to nominate me and SRI-Rice for the sustainable development prize. If this award had come through, it would have lifted SRI-Rice’s financial limitations for several years and would have provided resources to continue building and expanding the SRI community. But this nomination did not succeed either.[47]

Less remunerative is the World Agriculture Prize, which is awarded annually by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences (GCHERA).[48] In 2020, Shambu Prasad and the Institute for Rural Management at Anand (IRMA) nominated me for this prize, with the hope that its award of US$ 100,000 would help keep SRI-Rice operating for an additional year. To our disappointment, the award was given that year to a plant molecular biologist at the University of California, Davis, whose research is surely meritorious, but not likely to contribute as much to world agriculture as SRI and SCI.

*    *     *     *     *     *     *

Over the years, a fair amount of both time and effort was expended in pursuit of these several prizes. On balance, there was probably enough benefit from expanding SRI acceptance to justify having made these mostly non-monetary expenditures, although the effort also brought a number of disappointments. The cooperation and support of SRI colleagues around the world was always quick, impressive, and effusive.

Several of these awards, if received, would have put the SRI movement on a different and much better path for acceptance worldwide. However, the SRI community in any case proceeded with whatever resources it had or could mobilize. So, these various prize competitions are just one of many chapters in the SRI story.


[1] See the World Food Prize website for more information about this honor.

[2] After the 2010 symposium, I made a list of the persons with whom I met and talked during its three days. By then, I was pretty experienced in circulating at the event. This list indicates the kinds of contacts and discussions that a venue like the World Food Prize Symposium provided for personal communication:

     Raj Shah, the administrator of USAID: I met him with Biksham Gujja (WWF) and Duddeda, a WWF-sponsored SRI farmer from India, gave him an SRI booklet and my business card; Shah said that he would discuss SRI with USAID’s leader for biotechnology; met also Ron Senykoff, executive director of USAID’s Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), who came to the Oxfam panel of SRI farmer presentations, and when we talked afterwards, he suggested trying to get BIFAD to support a ‘white paper’ on SRI, will follow up; John Becker, senior BIFAD staff member, also came to the SRI farmer presentations, and we talked afterwards about reasons for the resistance to SRI within USAID.

     Prabhu Pingali, director for agriculture for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: he met also with Biksham and Duddeda, who had a long conversation on SRI with him in their shared language Telegu; Roy Steiner, agriculture program staff member for the Gates Foundation: we had a brief conversation, Roy is former a student of mine at Cornell and we have co-authored a book together; Joe DeVries, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): we had only a brief conversation as Joe, another former student of mine, but he had been resistant to SRI, favoring plant-breeding approaches instead.

     M.S. Swaminathan, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, India: the first World Food Prize laureate and a supporter of SRI in India, spoke with him twice; Uma Lele, former World Bank senior researcher: a long-time friend who was a visiting researcher at Cornell in the early 70s, friendly toward SRI, we spoke twice; Hans Herren, CEO of the Millennium Institute: 1995 WFP laureate and supporter of SRI, we spoke several times; Gordon Conway, an advisor to DFID in the UK and former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a long-time skeptic on SRI, but he said that he has a more positive view after reviewing the SRI website; during our brief conversation, he said that he will write a favorable box on SRI in the next edition of his book A Doubly Green Revolution.

     Stan Doerr, CEO of the agricultural NGO ECHO based in Ft. Myers FL: we spoke at some length, and he invited Erika Styger to participate in ECHO’s East African agricultural workshop in Tanzania in February 2011; Marv Baldwin, president, and Bev Abma, executive director for overseas programming, of the NGO Foods Resource Bank: we talked several times; I talked about SRI also with four farmer-activists whom the Bank had brought to the WFP events from The Gambia, Ivory Coast and Zambia.

     Alex King, country director for Kenya for the NGO Heifer International: we met at a breakfast and I sent him material on the Kenya SRI initiative and gave him contact information for Bancy Mati in Nairobi; Djibo Banaoud from Niger, responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the Food Crisis Cell of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet: sent him materials on SRI afterwards; Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange: spoke with her after her plenary panel presentation; it turned out that she was an undergraduate at Cornell so I put her in communication with Sue Edwards in Addis Ababa regarding SCI.

     John Buchanan, senior director for food security for Conservation International: very interested in SRI from a natural-resource-conservation perspective, came to Wednesday program; Dyno Keatinge, director-general of the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan: met after a panel organized by the WorldWatch Institute, formerly a deputy DG of ICRISAT so he already knew about SRI from Biksham Gujja, wrote to him to discuss the use of SCI methods with vegetable crops; Dennis Garrity, director-general of International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF): we had worked together on a CIIFAD program in Philippines when he was a researcher at IRRI, had long discussion and gave him copy of our soil biology book, has favorable attitude toward SRI; Zeyaur Khan, International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE): friendly to SRI, contributed a chapter to our soil biology book published four years previously and had visited Cornell the previous week.

     Rattan Lal, Ohio State University: also contributed a chapter to our soil biology book, friendly to SRI, spoke with him to reinforce his interest in SRI; Chris Dodswell, Sasakawa Africa Association: personal assistant to Norman Borlaug for 20 years, had informed him about SRI several times at previous WFP events, friendly greeting, but not much discussion; Gurdev Khush, 1996 WFP laureate for his work on developing ‘new plant type’ at IRRI: now retired from IRRI and at the University of California-Davis, knows about SRI, but previously not very friendly, friendlier interaction this time.

     Pedro Sanchez, Earth Institute, Columbia University, former director-general of ICRAF, and 2002 WFP laureate: still skeptical about SRI, had long discussion, am sending him the scientific papers that he asked to see; Marco Ferroni, director of the Syngenta Foundation for Development: a Cornell alumnus and friendly toward SRI after several previous discussions, spoke briefly, agreed to meet the next time he visits Cornell; Earl Kellogg, University of Illinois retired: long experience with BIFAD, we had served together on the advisory committee of Higher Education for Development for six years, had previously informed him about SRI, sat together at lunch.

     Robert Thompson, Purdue University retired: long experience with the World Bank, former dean of agriculture at Purdue, strong ties to agribusiness and the Farm Bureau, sat together at a breakfast; Mahabub Hossain, executive director of BRAC in Bangladesh, but formerly senior economist at IRRI who has been privately friendly toward SRI, talked briefly; Louise Fresca, formerly deputy director-general of FAO, now at the University of Amsterdam: knows about SRI, spoke briefly after her panel presentation; Ron Phillips, University of Minnesota: currently a member of IRRI’s board of trustees, talked briefly.

     Darrel Herde, event coordinator for Numana: Serving the Starving: met Friday morning, interested in CEDAC’s work with farmers in Cambodia to diversify smallholder farming systems, sent him CEDAC’s report on SRI’s role in multi-purpose farming; Pamela Pine, founder and CEO of Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse: a Cornell alumna, have sent her a Reuters report on the introduction of SRI in Assam state of India to reduce the trafficking of girls from poor families; V. Ravichandran, Vee Kay Vee Seeds: a progressive farmer and businessman who is already practicing SRI in Tamil Nadu, India.

[3] By 2009, the dossier supporting the nomination of Sebastièn Rafaralahy and Justin Rabenandrasana for the World Food Prize included supporting letters from Ministers of Agriculture in Cambodia and Madagascar; plus letters from senior government officials in  India, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam; from research institutions in China, Cuba, Egypt, The Gambia, Iraq, and Iran; from NGOs in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Ecuador, India, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Switzerland, and Zambia; from universities in Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam; and from the private sector in Japan.

[4] There was a kind of ‘coup’ within Association Tefy Saina when some field staff ousted and replaced the national officers at the annual meeting. The election was disputed on a number of procedural grounds, and the ouster was challenged in court proceedings. No matter what the merits on either side, this was something that would not look good to the outside world. Sebastièn and Justin were eventually restored to their positions, but the controversy detracted from Tefy Saina’s standing within Madagascar and would have been a disqualification for the WFP selection committee.

[5] See the brochure on these farmers that was prepared for the World Food Prize side-event: ‘Farmers Leading the Way from Crisis to Resilience’.

[6] These letters came from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, USA, Vietnam, and Zambia.

[7] The laureates in these years were: 2012 -- Daniel Hillel, an Israeli water management engineer who had pioneered work on micro-irrigation; 2013 -- three leaders in molecular biology research and its application in genetic modification: Marc van Montagu, founder and chair of the Institute for Plant Biotechnology in Belgium; Mary-Dell Chilton, founder of the Syngenta subsidiary, Syngenta Biotechnology; and Robert Fraley, executive vice-president and chief technology officer of Monsanto; 2014 -- Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, wheat breeder at CIMMYT who developed high-yield varieties with disease- and stress-resistance; 2015 -- Fazle H. Abed, founder and chief executive of the Bangladeshi NGO BRAC. Abed was an early supporter of SRI in Bangladesh, being a personal friend since 1986 whom I told about SRI when we met in Dhaka in 2000. BRAC provided the base of operation for Bangladesh’s national SRI steering committee from 2002 to 2006, and it was one of the first organizations in Bangladesh to use SRI in its field program.

     By 2015 there were a number of additional seconding letters for my nomination, including letters of support from the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); a former director-general of the International Center for Improvement of Wheat and Maize (CIMMYT); the CEO of Syngenta International; the director-general of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); the director of the Aga Khan  Foundation’s rural development programs; a former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Cambodia; the president of the West African Confederation of Rice Producer Associations; a former president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who had served also as president of The Club of Rome; and two senior professors at the University of Tokyo, who served as president and secretary of the Japan Association for SRI (J-SRI). There were also 27 more letters of support from 14 additional countries, particularly reflecting SRI’s spread within Africa: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania; and Dominican Republic, Korea, and Malaysia.

[8] Much of the financial support for the World Food Prize comes from individuals, communities and church groups that are concerned with reducing world hunger. But an analysis of public records has found that 26 of the 125 donors who gave over US$500 were agribusiness concerns or charities affiliated with such concerns. Over half a million dollars were received from Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill, Monsanto and General Mills, with significant support also from the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, according to Alex Park, ‘The World Food Prize, brought to you by Monsanto,’ Mother Jones, June 19 (2013).

     Park’s analysis concluded that agribusinesses and foundations contributed less than one-third of the total funding. But with small donors widely scattered and unable to have much influence on the Foundation in Des Moines, the larger donors had disproportionate sway. Five members of the WFP Council of Advisors in 2014, out of 14 members, were sympathetic to SRI, it should be said, as were several of the WFP Laureates selected in the past. But the selection of Monsanto and Syngenta executives for the award in 2013 for their work on genetically-modified crops created considerable controversy.

     In its first 27 years, the prize went to political leaders in four years, and to civil-society figures in another four years. Crop breeders and geneticists received the WFP in eight years, and in 16 years the prize was given to professionals associated with the CGIAR system for some or all of their careers. In several years, the prize went to nutritionists or businessmen. But the predominant theme was how to increase food production and availability within the established paradigm of crop genetic improvement using fertilizer and other inputs.

     This focus reflected the interests and achievements of Norman Borlaug. Twice before his death, I was able to speak with Dr. Borlaug about SRI, but he remained skeptical to the end, believing that genetic improvements and ‘modern’ inputs are required to produce enough food to meet the world’s food requirements.

[9] In 2021, Max Whitten, retired head of the plant pathology division of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research and associated with the University of Queensland, took initiative to nominate me again for the World Food Prize, together with Ngo Tien Dung, retired head of the Plant Protection Division of the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development in Vietnam. Dung had given leadership in his country for introducing integrated pest management (IPM), one of the best IPM programs in the world, and then he gave leadership for the introduction of SRI in Vietnam. This too was unsuccessful, but Max thought that it was worth his time and effort to make the nomination.

[10] The SEED award was also supported by the European Union, by ministries in India, the Netherlands and South Africa, and by the U.S. Department of State, among others.

[11] This is the announcement of the award to the SRI Global Marketing Partnership which was established by CIIFAD with CEDAC in Cambodia, the Kolaharena Federation in Madagascar, and the Community Camp Program in Sri Lanka, an association of farmer organizations.

[12] About six months after the award was made, the Award program received some funding from the large international re-insurance company SwissRe, so the SEED program was able to provide US$ 25,000 for market development. This was valuable start-up support for the partnership’s early steps.

[13] The grant of US$83,000 was used mostly in Cambodia to cover travel needed to establish commercial relationships and to obtain organic certification for the rice produced. An additional benefit, hard to put a value on, was the personal contact that the director of CEDAC, Koma, was able to establish with Cambodia’s Minister for the Environment, Dr. Mok Mareth, when they both sat together at the prize-giving ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in April 2005. It was helpful to have Cabinet-level support for Koma’s and CEDAC’s work on SRI.

[14] The work of Lotus Foods to enhance SRI’s acceptance is discussed in Chapter 17 and again in the next chapter.

[15] Olam International, one of the largest agribusinesses in the world, has a sourcing and buying network that directly or indirectly engages about 5 million farmers globally. Its mission statement justifies its commitment to promoting ‘sustainability’ as not just the right thing to do, but as having business benefits.

[16] The Agropolis Fondation is a French entity devoted to agricultural research and development. The Olam press release announcing the prize also listed the names of the international jury. The person organizing the selection told me at a reception that the jury, which included the Chief Scientific Officer for the CGIAR system, had been unanimous in its decision for SRI. This was probably made possible by our Cambodian colleague Koma having been appointed as a member of the jury, having the prestige conferred by receiving the Magsaysay Prize in 2012. He could personally vouch for the claims made in the application about SRI’s productivity, water saving, etc. To have the CGIAR’s Chief Scientific Officer concurring in the decision was a boost for SRI even if only a few knew about it. This official ended up actually presenting the award in the ceremony when the CEO of Olam International was not able to attend the event.

[17] The blog was posted in December 2015, and the Nature advertorial was published 11 months later.

[18] Verghese’s address to the International Rice Congress is posted on the internet.

[19] This posting of frequently-asked questions about Project Drawdown on the internet describes its objectives and mode of operation.

[20] Paul Hawken, editor, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Penguin Books, New York (2017), see pages 48-49.

[21] “Our analysis includes both SRI and improved rice cultivation which involves improved soil, nutrient management, water use, and tillage practices. SRI has been adopted largely by smallholding farmers and has much higher yield benefits compared to improved rice production. We calculate that SRI can expand from [3.36 million ha to 53 million ha] by 2050, both sequestering carbon and avoiding methane emissions that altogether total 3.1 gigatons of CO₂ or its equivalent over 30 years. With increased yields, 477 million additional tons of rice could be produced, earning farmers an additional US$ 678 billion in profits by 2050. If improved rice production grows from [from 28 to 82 million ha] over 30 years, another [reduction of] 11.3 gigatons of CO₂ emissions can be realized. Farmers could realize US$ 519 billion in additional profits.” (page 49).

[22] This prize is described and its annual competitions announced on the Keeling Curve Prize website. The Keeling Curve is named for the scientist who in 1958 first started monitoring carbon dioxide emissions at multiple locations, documenting the long-term accumulation of CO₂ in the atmosphere. Within a few decades there was conclusive evidence that greenhouse gas emissions were increasing, which spurred both public and individual actions to curb them. The Prize was established to raise consciousness about this hazard and to encourage measures that would abate these emissions.

[23] See the Wikipedia entry on this prize. Ramon Magsaysay was one of the most respected Presidents of the Philippines, a country not having had many political leaders who were almost universally acclaimed. He served as president from 1953 to 1957. The Academy that was established in his honor after his death sought to honor and encourage independent, high-minded and public-minded leadership throughout the Asian region. The award is often referred to as ‘the Nobel Prize for Asia.’

[24] See report on the award on the Asian Farmers website. Koma’s acceptance speech focused on the beneficial impacts that SRI use was having in Cambodia on farmers’ well-being. The text is available in addition to a YouTube video.

[25] See announcement of this award. Unfortunately, Sue passed away in 2018, and the SRI/SCI community lost one of its most dynamic and effective proponents.

[26] See the Agroecology case study on ‘planting with space’ posted on the website of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.

[27] See presentation that Sue Edwards on ‘planting with space’ and on organic farming made at the IFOAM-organized program on Agriculture and Rural Development at the Rio+20 summit in 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development convened in Brazil. This presentation was made jointly with a representative of the Centro Agroecológico in Rio do Sul, the first organization in Brazil to take an interest in SRI. As noted above, Sue passed away in 2018, and the SRI community lost a real leader.

[28] Bancy Mati’s video titled ‘The System of Rice Intensification: Producing More Rice with Less Water – Experience in Kenya’ is posted online.

[29] PRADAN lists the starting of SRI work in 2003 as one of its ‘milestones’ on its website, along with the award it received in 2006.

[30] See PRAGATI report on this work with finger millet, aka in India as ragi.

[31] Here is a link to the citation for Pragati’s award.

[32] The acronym BAIF stands for Bharatiya Agri-Industries Foundation. It made this presentation on its SRI work in Dangs district of Gujarat at the all-India SRI symposium convened in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu in 2008.

[33] See the Iraq page on the SRI website, and discussion of Khidhir’s research work in Chapter 8.

[34] This is the announcement for the award, which was supported also by USAID and the UK’s DFID agency. This is the website for the Millennium Alliance.

[35] Here is the Wikipedia entry on this official Odisha State award.

[36] In Madagascar, the government established district, provincial and then national awards for highest rice yield, which were almost always won by SRI farmers. It is noted in Chapter 29 that the winner in 2004, Charlotte Rasonandrasana, was given the national prize for her yield of 13.5 tons per hectare.

     In the Philippines, the government has sponsored ‘derbys’ in which farmers compete to produce the highest rice yield with certain varieties. The contestants are sponsored by seed or fertilizer companies, like hired race car drivers for professional auto racing. As reported in Chapter 31, a farmer who entered on behalf of the SRI community and used an improved inbred variety (rather than a hybrid) and organic methods, competed against all other the entrants, who planted hybrid varieties and used agrochemical inputs. She placed 9th out of 19 entrants. Having had the lowest production costs per kg of rice, SRI would have won the prize if economic returns were considered (but they were not).

[37] This was reported in The New Indian Express, Jan. 27, 2018.

[38] The creation of the award was announced the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2004.

[39] This program is very innovative and commendable. The trainees are colloquially and affectionately referred to as ‘solar mamas.’

[40] See the Wikipedia entry on the Right Livelihood Award. The Nobel Peace Prize has this purpose, but it has recognized many different kinds of activity. The Right Livelihood Award would never have been given to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, just as a Nobel Prize would never have gone to Edward Snowden.

[41] The parallel was symbolized by the two award ceremonies taking place, respectively, in the chambers of the Norwegian and the Swedish parliaments. In 2016, a right-wing government in Sweden revoked the previous agreement to give the RLA access to the Swedish parliament building for presentation of the awards after having hosted the RLA event for the previous 30 years.

[42] See report on this foundation, which also has a commitment to support the arts.

[43] See the Wikipedia entry on Champions of the Earth. The co-nomination came from Y.S. Koma, Biksham Gujja, Bancy Mati and Le Minh.

[44] See the Wikipedia entry on the BBVA Prize.

[45] See the Wikipedia entry on the Tang Prize.

[46] Sue Price, an SRI colleague in the UK (see next chapter), when she learned about the prize suggested that SRI be nominated. The prize is not well-known because the nomination process is not a public one. Sue had come across a copy of a Tang Foundation letter posted on the internet, inviting a Brazilian university to submit a nomination. With this information, it could be determined that Cornell University was also eligible to make a nomination.

[47] The 2018 award was given to Dr. James Hansen, one of the first climate scientists to raise alarms about global warming, a very worthy laureate. But calling attention to climate change, while making clearer the urgency of striving for sustainable development, does not offer any solution for dealing with climate change, which SRI does.

[48] Awarding the Prize is one of the main activities of GCHERA. The first recipient of this prize, established in 2013, was Dr. Ronnie Coffman, director of International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. SRI-Rice operated under his aegis from its establishment in 2010. In 2021, the International Programs were moved into a new Department of Global Development, which became SRI-Rice’s new administrative home.


PICTURE CREDITS: Oxfam America; Lotus Foods; Olam Prize; World Bank/Nepal; PRAGATI; Amod Thakur.

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