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Rice farmers look to reap rewards of new technique
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Rice farmers look to reap rewards of new technique

Vientiane Times, 5 Mar 2010

The Department of Irrigation (DOI) this year plans to encourage
farmers around the country to plant 5,000 hectares of rice using the
single seedling, or System of Rice Intensification (SRI), method.

Agricultural officials from Vientiane and various provinces around the
country yesterday met in Vientiane to discuss how to best promote SRI
to village groups and expand its use to more areas of the country.

SRI involves planting rice seedlings only 7-12 days old, spacing
seedlings at least 30cm apart, using good water management, rigorous
weeding and improving soil quality using tools and, later in the
cycle, organic fertilisers, said DOI Director General, Dr Khamphad
Sourinphoumy.

The method is best suited for use in flat areas with irrigation
channels and is considered beneficial because growth times are
reduced.

It can also save money because farmers spend less buying seedlings, as
they need 6kg less than the 60kg a hectare required when using
traditional methods.

SRI also improves productivity by using less land, labour and water.

Dr Khamphad said farmers who use SRI increase their yields by 50-100
percent, reduce water usage by 30-50 percent, lower capital expenses
by 10-30 percent and increase income levels by 100-300 percent.

The department first introduced the method in 2007 and the number of
farmers using the method continues to increase every year.

In 2008 the department encouraged farmers to use the new method to
plant more than 100 hectares of wet season rice, and 1,470 hectares of
dry season rice.

In 2009, farmers planted more than 2,550 hectares of wet season rice
using SRI and about 3,600 hectares of dry season rice.

To reach the 2010 target, Dr Khamphad called on the Agriculture
Ministry to establish a committee responsible for overseeing expansion
of SRI from the central to the local level and to promote the new
method to communities around the country .

Farmers in Luang Prabang and Xayaboury provinces have had particular
success with the method, regularly producing yields of nine tonnes a
hectare, he said.

SRI gives a high output of rice, usually between 6-8 tonnes a hectare,
according to a report from the DOI.

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