The future of humanity lies in using the best possible methods of farming. An enormous industry, Agribusiness, has risen around that concept. But what they’ve sold is nothing but a lie. If there is a future, it lies in simple methods, not industry-funded science with its intensive oil-based factory farming.
by Heidi Stevenson
Using absolutely no machines, a farmer in India has produced a rice crop so large that it puts all modern methods and their claims to complete shame. Sumant Kumar has produced 22.4 tons of rice on a single hectare, about 2½ acres, of land.
Sumant Kumar has outproduced—by a full two tons!—the Chinese agricultural scientist called the “father of rice”, who’d previously held the record for rice output.. It puts to shame anything produced by World Bank funded scientists of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. No genetically modified crops, for all their claims, have come close.
And Sumant’s achievement is simply the best of a large number of Indian farmers of his region who produce rice using the same methods he does. They all achieved outputs over 17 tons. The world’s average is about 4.3 tons per hectare and India’s average is a mere 2.3 tons.
Clearly, the Gates Foundation is on the wrong path entirely—at least if its goal is actually to improve crop yields. Obviously, modern science is not the solution to world hunger.
The Indian farmers’ methods are simple. They use the tools of their forefathers. Plows are still pulled by bullocks. Hand tools are used to harvest. There is no automated planting. Scientists cannot find anything special about their soil to explain it. The only explanation is their method.
Sumant and his neighbors are using a method called System of Root Intensification (SRI). Traditionally, seedlings are planted in clumps in water-filled fields. These Indian farmers are starting only half as many seeds and they’re planting them when they’re much younger, one by one, spaced at intervals of about 10 inches (25 cm). Soil is kept dryer and weeding is done heavily around the young plants’ roots, which helps assure that they are well aerated and don’t have to compete for water or nutrients.
The method was introduced by the Professional Assistance for Development Action, an Indian NGO. Instead of focusing on the typical Agribusiness mantra of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetically modified crops, they focus on the methods of farming.
The Observer quotes Dr. Surendra Chaurassa of the region’s agricultural ministry:
Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more. This is revolutionary. I did not believe it to start with, but now I think it can potentially change the way everyone farms. I would want every state to promote it. If we get 30-40% increase in yields, that is more than enough to recommend it.
No kidding! When genetically modified approaches are often not even reaching standard yields, when the best they can claim—and almost never meet—is a 5-10% increase in yields, how can anyone suggest a technological approach?
The SRI method is the traditional way of farming by villagers of Madagascar. In the 1980s, Henri de Laulanie, agronomist and Jesuit priest, observed their techniques and codified the method. Norman Uphoff, director of the International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development at Cornell University has been spreading the word.
Let’s be clear here: SRI is not a new technology. It’s ancient. It isn’t scientific, at least not in the sense that modern science accepts. There have been no double-blind trials. No years of research. It was obvious from observation that it works, and that it works better than any modern technology can even imagine. As Uphoff is quoted by The Observer:
It is a set of ideas, the absolute opposite to the first green revolution [of the 60s] which said that you had to change the genes and the soil nutrients to improve yields. That came at a tremendous ecological cost. Agriculture in the 21st century must be practised differently. Land and water resources are becoming scarcer, of poorer quality, or less reliable. Climatic conditions are in many places more adverse. SRI offers millions of disadvantaged households far better opportunities. Nobody is benefiting from this except the farmers; there are no patents, royalties or licensing fees.
That lack of patents, royalties, and licensing fees is of great concern to Agribusiness. As you might expect, a representative of that industry, Achim Dobermann of the International Rice Research Institute, told The Observer:
SRI is a set of management practices and nothing else, many of which have been known for a long time and are best recommended practice. Scientifically speaking I don’t believe there is any miracle. When people independently have evaluated SRI principles then the result has usually been quite different from what has been reported on farm evaluations conducted by NGOs and others who are promoting it. Most scientists have had difficulty replicating the observations.
Why would anyone believe him? He falls back on that same ol’ “fertilizers, pesticides, genetic engineering” mantra. Of course scientists in the pay of Agribiz will have “difficulty replicating” SRI techniques! Their paychecks veto any results that might show SRI’s benefits. That is, of course, why their work is better defined as pseudo science, at best, and junk science at worst. As agronomist Anil Verma of the Professional Assistance for Development Action, states:
If any scientist or a company came up with a technology that almost guaranteed a 50% increase in yields at no extra cost they would get a Nobel prize. But when young Biharian farmers do that they get nothing. I only want to see the poor farmers have enough to eat.
Those big prizes are set aside for the right sort of people, not those Madagascan farmers, who originated SRI, or even those who codified and teach it.
Of course, the big money outfits, like Gates Foundation, are tied at the hip to Agribusiness money, so they promote the earth-destroying methods of modern intensive farming and genetic engineering, none of which have proven to accomplish anything positive, but only to destroy small farmers around the world.
One must wonder what will become of these Indian farmers if Monsanto grows one of the life-destroying crops next to their fields. Will they claim ownership of future crops that have been destroyed by cross-breeding? Most likely. That’s their usual method. If they can’t sell their filthy products, they use the courts to force people to pay for them after they’ve destroyed natural, sophisticated, healthy, and profitable farms.
Tagged agribiz, agribusiness, best method to grow rice, indian farmers, indian farmers rice, indian rice farming, indian rice growing, indian rice production, junk science, rice output record, rice production record, sri agriculture, system of root intensification