How Millions of Farmers are Advancing Agriculture For Themselves
How Millions of Farmers are Advancing Agriculture For Themselves is published by Independent Science News
By Jonathan Latham, Ph. D., December 3rd, 2012
Synopsis: An unheralded and unprecedented farmer-led revolution is underway in agriculture. Small farmers around the world are dramatically boosting their productivity and yields by adopting a growing system called SCI (System of Crop Intensification). SCI is based on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) which is characterized by simple modifications to agricultural practices that synergize to promote healthy plant growth. These modifications include improving soil conditions and greatly lowering plant density (crowding).
Since SRI and SCI methods use fewer seeds, require no fertilizers or pesticides, use less water, and work well regardless of crop variety, they radically boost the income of farmers while also reducing their costs. Unsurprisingly, SRI and SCI are being rapidly adopted, so far in over 50 countries. An important aspect of this story is that SRI and SCI are advancing almost entirely outside the purview of the scientific agricultural research community. Since modern agricultural research mostly ignores farming as a system, and focuses instead on manipulating external inputs and crop genetics, this lack of interest should be no surprise; but the two and three-fold yield improvements typical of SRI and SCI suggest that this narrow scientific focus may prove to have been an error of historic proportions.