Agriculture sector despite its decreasing contribution to the national GDP is an important part and parcel of Thai economy, social and spiritual life. Rice, which occupies over 50% of the area, is by far a most important crops in the Kingdom not only to meet the domestic consumption needs but also for export to number of countries in the world. Thai Rice fetches a premium price in the word market and known for its quality and high standard. Majority of rice are grown in Central and NE part along with Northern part of the country. The geographical, hydrological as well as social and economic base in North and NE Thailand requires special attention in the wake of serious challenges on account of several important drivers but not limited to climate change, resource degradation, globalization and above all re-orientation towards the ‘Sufficiency Economy” and Sustainable Agriculture Production policies of the HM the King, which is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

To improve farmer livelihoods, natural resources and infrastructure must be considered and developed. Soil is an important factor in agricultural production. The poor soil health is a major problem in Thailand, with an area of about 27.988 million hectares, salt affected area is about 2.302 million hectares. Farm holding areas are about 24.31 million hectares or 47.31% of the total area of Thailand in 2010. More than a half of farmer’s lack land ownerships that contribute to the problem of access to resources in the production of food security. Water management is a main problem lead to water shortage where irrigation areas cover just a 22.5% of the total agricultural land use areas. The agricultural sector is likely to have communities with a high proportion of the elderly population due to low birth rate and low attraction to new generation in term of income. Agricultural policy in 2012 fiscal year was mainly focused on urgent issues to embark and the reconstruction of agricultural economy. Crop insurance was introduced in relation to policy on food security.

To address some of the above-mention challenges under the broad umbrella of available policies of MoAC, principles of SRI, which has been applied and tested on a pilot basis by farmers group in Central and NE Thailand, provides a robust opportunity to undertake systematic action research as envisaged in the AIT-EU SRI Project. Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in collaboration with Thai Education Foundation and DoAE has undertaken multi-year projects utilizing the principles of SRI, which provide evidence of not only factor productivity increase but also the increase in knowledge and capacity of the farmers to apply sustainable agriculture practices in their own farm.


Implementing Partner

  • Ministry of Education (MOE)


Slide Presentation



Photo Collection



Videos

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Workshops / Conferences



Reports and Articles


Past Activities

  System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Thailand overview

Although initial 2001 trials of SRI methods by the Multiple Cropping Center (MCC) at Chiang Mai University were not successful, continued evaluations by MCC, the McKean Rehabilitation Center (see MRC trials) and others led to a national SRI network, which was formalized at a national SRI workshop held in Chiang Mai in May 2003. A February 15, 2005, meeting of the SRI Network in Thailand held at MCC reviewed progress of network members (4 government groups and 9 NGOs and projects). With Thailand Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN) coordination, the SRI Network organized a workshop in June 2005 co-hosted by the Surin Farmers' Support Project (SFS) in the southern section of northeast Thailand.

During 2005-2006, Abha Mishra, at the time a PhD student at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), wrote successful proposals to the Asia Rice Foundation USA (see resulting journal article) and the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food to support participatory action research with farmer field school groups to evaluate SRI.The CPWF project, undertaken by an AIT team headed by Prof. V. M. Salokhe (Professor at AIT), introduced SRI through action-research with villages in northeast Thailand (see report at Cornell website)

The 2008 AIT project proposal on Community preparedness for climate change and increased water use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in central Thailand was selected for the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Showcase 2008 Programme. The project, which used FFS extension, took place in Ratchaburi Province between 2009 and 2011 (see summary report).

A Southeast Asia regional workshop on SRI involving Mekong River Basin (MRB) countries (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand) was organized at Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand, June 22-23, 2009, in collaboration with the World Bank Institute. During 2011, AIT began a EU- financed regional project, Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning around the SRI in the Lower Mekong River Basin, which is focused rainfed SRI in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. During 2012, a thesis and several academic papers were published on SRI (see 2012 updates for summaries). One of these, Rice root growth and physiological responses to SRI water management and implications for crop productivity, won the SAWADA Prize for best paper published in the journal Paddy and Water Environment Engineering for the year 2012. Also during 2012, AIT recieved an EU grant for working on SRI in the Lower Mekong Delta River Basin in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The details could be seen at the SRI homepage hosted at Cornell University Website .

Challenge Program for Water and Food

A competitive grant was won by AIT from Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) to undertake a series of action research in Roi-et, NE Thailand in collaboration with the Thai Education Foundation (TEF) and Local office of the Department of Non Formal Education (2006-2008). With funding support from FAO-IPM to the NGO partner, TEF, an additional third season experiments were carried out.

The followings provides short summary of the project (http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/countries/thailand/index.html):

  • An innovative Participatory Action Research (PAR) program was initiated in Ban Chaeng, Roi-Et province, NE Thailand during wet season of 2006 to meet the project objectives of increasing water productivity of rice by using some elements form the SRI principle in-combination of inter- cropping of local bean species for the first 40 days of rice growth and development. During first season PAR (June-Dec. 2006) 3 experiments were set-up; testing of two different seedling age (12 days and 30 days (farmers practice) under two different water regime; and, testing of performance of three local bean species (Mung bean; cow pea and jack bean);
  • Younger seedlings performed better under either of the water management practices and a total yield of 477 kg./Rai and 597 Kg./rai with 30 days and 14 days old seedlings were achieved respectively (F = 12.33; df = 1, 5 ;P < 0.0248), (Tukey’s test [SAS Institute 1999]). Whereas, under flooded condition (15 cm or more ponded water), yields of 456 kg/rai and 531 kg/rai with 30 days and 14 days old seedlings were achieved respectively ((F = 18.33, df = 1, 5, P < 0.0123), (Tukey’s test [SAS Institute 1999]). Similarly when a hybrid variety was tested in following dry season similar trends of yield increase were obtained;
  • A much higher yield under SRI and Bean at 1200 Kg./rai at 14% moisture were obtained. In all cases, the productivity of supplementary irrigation increased up to 4kg/m3 of water. In contrast, water productivity at farmer’s level are in range of 0.5 to 0.6 kg rice/m3 of water in the region. Net return from the level of 100 baht/rai was increased up to 3000 Baht/rai. Experiences showed that farmers and trainers proved excellent partners in this action research initiative which allowed them to better understand SRI principles and which helped them, in turn, to generate location-specific and knowledge-intensive sets of agronomic practices for better rice yields with lesser inputs.

Civil Society Organization (CSO) - Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) initiative

The AIT in association with International Water Management Institute (IWMI—a CGIAR* center) and Thai Education Foundation (TEF—a national NGO) with funding support from the World Bank through CSO- CGIAR Competitive Grant Programme set up a multidisciplinary and integrated mode of enquiry in Roi-Et and Surin province of Northeast Thailand. The purpose of the study was to address the major and common constraints to rice production in Northeast Thailand, that include poor fertility and physical conditions of the soil, frequent flood and drought, and limited farm management skill. The team investigated and assessed the results of a collaborative action research, and undertook season-long learning and training to address the above stated constraint. The overall objective of the project was to increase the productivity of Jasmine rice production systems through integration of various indigenous (termite mound soil) and exogenous soil rejuvenating techniques (bentonite) and/or innovative agronomic crop management practices (IACM), under the umbrella of SRI principles, using the farmer field school (FFS) approach that could lead to enhanced incomes and poverty alleviation in Northeast Thailand. The project envisaged that a forward linkage to markets and at the same time a backward linkage to research institutions of national and/or international would immensely benefit farmers and participating partners in the long-term.

The three season action research works involving farmers, researchers, traders and extension personnel demonstrated that the average yield of Jasmine rice, variety “HomeMali”, increased up to 40- 50% under the IACM practices compared to farmers’ practices (FP) so called “conventional practices”. Average net return under IACM was 2.5-3 times higher compared to FP. The higher net return under IACM/SRI was due to significant reduction in seed cost (almost 90%) and increased paddy yield. Water productivity in terms of grain yield per kg of water inflow to the field during land preparation and crop growth period was also higher under IACM compared to FP. The FFS approach provided an excellent platform to bring all stakeholders together at farmers’ field for coherent and inclusive actions to address such cross-cutting issues and opened the channel for information flow from local to international level (see Mishra et al, 2012)

APFED Showcase Project (2008-2010)

“Community preparedness for climate change and increased water-use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Central Thailand” project has been funded by UNEP through its APFED project in 2008. The project with its partner, Department of Agriculture Extension (DoAE), RTG, rice farmers in Ratchaburi province, extension personnel, and scientists from AIT were able to successfully adapt several practices of SRI to achieve higher yields with less amount of land, water and other external inputs. Such practices are widely known to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, thus, combining the best of science for climate-change adaption at community level.

Based on baseline survey and extensive discussions while formulating the various interventions (treatments), the existing Parachute method of rice transplanting was adapted using principles of SRI as one of planned innovative treatments in these participatory trials. Higher rice yields (over 8.0 tons/ha) coupled with higher water productivity and greater net returns in the planned interventions plots (SRI plots) (4 replications) resulted into development of locally-adapted technologies at plot scale, meeting the major aims of the project. A number of extension workers along with farmers were trained in these processes from the local government and are expected to carry forward this learning to newer places with new farmer groups. The farmers also shared their results with other visiting farmers from Southern Thailand during the Field Day, which aimed to showcase their hard work to other members of the local community and encourage them to adopt climate-friendly rice production system. Average 82% attendances (at 18 weekly meetings), over 80% enhancement in knowledge along with sustainability of seedling raising method for parachute transplanting are some of the immediate impacts that were established during the project, indicating its success in meeting set objectives (see Mishra and Kumar, 2011).

Regional SRI Consultation

A two-day Southeast Asia regional learning event on SRI involving MRB countries (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand) was organized at AIT, Bangkok, Thailand, 22-23 June 2009, in collaboration with World Bank Institute, Washington DC, USA followed by a field-visit on 24 June 2009 in NE Thailand. The workshop was attended by about 50 persons representing government organizations and ministries, non- government organizations, development organizations, academicians, journalists from print and audio- visual media, farmers, students and a United Nations agency. The current situation of SRI adaptation and adoption in the region and challenges, especially in the context of climate change and water productivity, were presented and deliberated. Emerging issues were captured for in-depth discussions.

The deliberations resulted into a set of recommendations, and chief among them were regional collaboration for scientific benchmarking and adaptive measures, as well as development of quality extensions materials for SRI dissemination. In addition, local and regional-level institutionalization of SRI support capacities was proposed to further disseminate and sustain SRI. Finally, a session on SRI in relation to water productivity and climate change clearly enlivened the imagination of a majority of participants. This session resulted in acceptance of the potential role of SRI principles in reducing crops’ vulnerability to climate change, expecting that scientific studies would produce reasons for adding SRI in local and regional plans and initiatives of governments and regional groupings (like ASEAN).

In summary, these initial initiates provided opportunity to scale up SRI efforts at national and regional level for addressing the productivity and food security concern of rain-fed smallholder farmers in Lower Mekong River Basin countries. The SRI-LMB project intervention can be seen as a first step towards this direction.

  Abha Mishra gets Best Paper Award for Paper on SRI Roots and Water Management (27-29 Nov 2012)

Asian Institute of Technology's (AIT) Dr. Abha Mishra has been conferred the SAWADA Prize for the best paper published in the journal Paddy and Water Environment Engineering for the year 2012. The award was granted during the International Society of Paddy and Water Environment Engineering (PAWEES) 2012 Conference titled "Challenges of Environment and Water Management in Monsoon Asia" held November 27-29, 2012, at the Royal Irrigation Department, Pakkred, Thailand.

The award, which consists of a plaque, certificate and a cash award of Japanese Yen 100,000.00, is granted to authors for publishing an original article of extraordinary significance in the journal Paddy and Water Environment during a twelve-month period. The paper, Rice root growth and physiological responses to SRI water management and implications for crop productivity, is coauthored with Prof. Vilas M Salokhe. It reports on research findings on rice root responses while applying SRI water management principles under semi-field and field conditions, along with variations in plant density and microbial density in the soil. The article considers the relevance of exploiting roots' potential for plasticity to enhance crop productivity, in the context of impending water constraints and effects of climate change. (See AIT news article and research paper ).

  Asian Institute for Technology (AIT) APFED Showcase Project on SRI Concludes (2009-2011)

The summary report of the 2009-2011 AIT project on Community preparedness for climate change and increased water use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in central Thailand is now available. The project was part of Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Showcase 2008 Programme and was intended to build capacity of rice farmers, researchers and extension personnel and other stakeholders to raise the rice production while reducing its requirement for water but also mitigating adverse climate change that results from greenhouse gas emission. It helped farmers to become partners for climate-change mitigation and adaptation, preparing for and coping with, strategies through adapting and adopting improved crop and water management practices towards such as intermittent irrigation, which is well- known and scientifically established way for reduction in methane emission. (See article on 2010 field day with 180 farmers).

  Community preparedness for climate change and increased water use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of SRI in                 central Thailand (2008)

The 2008 AIT project proposal on Community preparedness for climate change and increased water use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in central Thailand was selected for the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Showcase 2008 Programme. The project, which used FFS extension, took place in Ratchaburi Province between 2009 and 2011 (see summary report).

  Asian Institute for Technology (AIT) SRI Project Selected for APFED Showcase 2008 Programme (2008)

The AIT project proposal on Community preparedness for climate change and increased water use efficiency for rice cultivation using principles of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in central Thailand was selected for the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Showcase 2008 Programme. The project intends to build capacity of rice farmers, researchers and extension personnel and other stakeholders to raise the rice production while reducing its requirement for water but also mitigating adverse climate change that results from greenhouse gas emission.

This proposal logically builds upon the three successive proposals (two completed, Asia Rice Foundation USA award 2005 and Challenge Programme for Food and Water 2006) and one ongoing (CSO-CGIAR pilot project 2007) and a Ph.D. thesis research with the involvement of Professor V. M. Salokhe, Professor S. Rakshit, Dr. Prabhat Kumar and Dr. Abha Mishra along with farmers in Thailand and Cambodia, FAO colleagues, Cornell university colleagues, International Water Management Institute and partners from government and non-government organization. Drs. Prabhat Kumar and Abha Mishra coordinate the project, which was one of 353 project proposals received this year. (See final report completed during May 2011).

  Interest in SRI Growing in Universities and Government in Thailand (18-20 July 2007)

In a report from a visit to Bangkok, July 18-20, 2007, Norman Uphoff describes interest from faculty and administration at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and Khon Kaen University as well as from the director of the government' Rice Department. This interest is undergirded by results from the SRI demonstrations and evaluation of AIT faculty, staff and students in Roi-et Province under a grant from the Challenge Program for Water and Food.

  Green Manure Intercropping with SRI Methods Proves Promising in N.E. Thailand (1 Jul - 30 Dec 2006)

A project of the Asian Institute of Technology and Thai Education Foundation, funded under the Challenge Program for Water and Food of the CGIAR system (Small Grant Project No. 564) has issued a second report on its participatory action research, for the period July 1-December 30, 2006, which documents results from farmer field school evaluations of SRI methods in Roi-et Province. The evaluations, managed by farmers and monitored by AIT/TEF staff, showed that 14-day seedlings outperformed 30-day seedlings under both just-moist and flooded conditions, by 25.1 and 16.5%, respectively. The just-moist conditions required only 1/3 as much water as conventional flooding

The study also evaluated the interplanting of mung bean, cowpea or jackbean with SRI rice production. The first gave the highest yield of rice (5305 t/ha, KD6 variety). SRI rice yield was 13.6% higher with mung bean than when grown without the leguminous crop. Water requirements with intercropping were similarly 2/3 less than with farmers' practice. Rice yield in general with SRI was almost double that from farmers' practice. The AIT/TEF team planned to continue with this work for a second year through September 2007.

  Abha Mishra Brings in Two Grants for SRI Research (12-16 Nov 2006)

Abha Mishra, a PhD student in Agriculture Systems and Engineering at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand, together with her team, won two competitive grants to study SRI in Thailand. She received a Travel and Study Grant Award from the Asia Rice Foundation USA, and was subsequently successful in the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CWFP) Small Grants Competition for support of participatory-action research with farmer field school groups evaluating SRI. Her Asia Rice Foundation award financed experimental work to illuminate the possible effects of soil biological factors and alternate wetting and drying in SRI. Part of her findings are published in a 2008 article in Experimental Agriculture (44:365-383).

The CPWF project was undertaken by a team from the AIT introducing SRI through action-research with villages in northeast Thailand, for which Dr. V. M. Salonkhe is the principal investigator. Their successful proposal (out of 126) to the CGIAR's CPWF Small Grants Competition was for a project on Increasing water use efficiency by using mulch under SRI (System of Rice Intensification) management practices in Northeast Thailand. The project, which began in January 2006, was intended to help farmers to innovate and localize the agronomic practice suitable to increase water use efficiency, i.e. flooded rice to AWD rice with SRI management practices using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology. This was further integrated with local innovations like use of green manure crops as intercrops, use of rice straw so that suitable mulching could be achieved within the framework of existing production practices. The broader aim of the project was to establish whether alternative water use methods, which not only increases the rice yield but also adds to the overall sustainability, are feasible without bringing any major technological input from outside (see April-June '06 and July-Dec. '06 project reports and related video ).

A paper that Mishra prepared with three colleagues working in FAO's Integrated Pest Management programme in South and Southeast Asia prepared for the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food Forum held in Vientiane, Laos, November 12-16, 2006 (see report on CPWF Forum ).

  CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food Forum (12-16 Nov 2006)

An international forum was held in Vientiane, November 12-16, on land and water management practices that contribute to sustainable food production with reduced water use. SRI initiatives were represented by Abha Mishra and Prabhat Kumar from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and by Rajendra Uprety from Nepal. A team of SRI farmers from northeastern Thailand attended to present their experience with increasing food production while lowering their water requirements. (see Uphoff's review of the event).


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