SRI-PADI Research Group News: Rice Conference in Indonesia and New Research Blog
Dr. Anizan Isahak represented the National University of Malaysia and the SRI-PADI Research Group at the International Conference on Promising Practices for the Development of Sustainable Paddy Fields in Bogor, Indonesia (October 7-9, 2009). After returning to Malaysia, she officially opened the SRI-PADI blog athttp://sripadiukm.blogspot.com/, which reports on some of the May 2009 results presented in more detail at the PAWEES conference. Despite several constraints, yields for the variety Beranang were highly encouraging giving about 7 and 5 tons per ha for MR219 and UKMR2 respectively while the yield for Tanjong Karang were about 4 tons per ha for both varieties. (Yields are higher than the national average of about 3 tons per ha obtained for organic irrigated rice and match or exceed the national average of about 4 tons per ha. for conventional irrigated rice.)
Launching of Year of Rice Action (YORA) for West Malaysia 2009-2010 Includes SRI Presentations
Southeast Asian Council for Food Security (SEACON) and its Malaysian alliance DHRRA-Malaysia (Development of Human resources for Rural Areas, Malaysia), with support from Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) and SRI-PADI, jointly organized a one year campaign dedicated to saving rice, paddy farming and its heritage in Malaysia. With the theme of “Rice for Life and Livelihood,” the Year of Rice Action (YORA) 2009-2010 Campaign was launched on July 20, 2009, in Kampung Matang Pasir in Gunong Semanggol, Perak. Anizan Isahak, from the National University of Malaysia’s SRI-PADI Group, gave a presentation on her work with SRI over the past year.
Report on the Introduction of SRI in Sabah
More than 250 farmers attended the SRI seminar “SRI and Poverty Alleviation Opportunities” in Kota Marudu, located at the northern part of Sabah. The event, organized by Victor Lee, also included several farmers whose SRI experiences are described below:
Razipin, from the village of Marakau in the the foothills of Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu, is one of seven farmers from Sabah whom Victor Lee and his colleagues sent during 2009 to Indonesia for training at Pak Alik’s SRI training center in Ciamis, West Java. On November 25, 2009, Razipin planted a 100 sq. meter demo plot using discarded mushroom stalks from nearby farms as organic fertilizer. After skeptical villagers began to observe the impressive tillering and vegetative abundance, two consecutive meetings of village chiefs were held and the Ranau district government’s agriculture officer was summoned to provide explanations. On March 9, 2010, Razipin harvested his field (see enlargeable photo at left) and recorded a yield of 9 t/ha. The district agriculture officer witnessed the event and submitted a letter of invitation for training to be done for many other farmers in his territory (see photo at right).
Joseph, a village chief and farmer, also trained with Pak Alik – both locally at the village of Tampios, Sabahat, (Sabah, Malaysia) and at the Ciamis SRI training center in Indonesia. Anticipating a successful harvest (right), Victor Lee and he have made plans to bring village chiefs from some 200 kampungs to be trained by a team spearheaded by Joseph and Razipin in April. A large SRI demo/training plot is planned for Joseph’s fields along with meeting facilities for 100 persons near Nunuk Ragang, which will be the area’s first official training center for SRI.
Organic SRI Workshop Held in Malaysia
On Jan 31, 2009, an organic SRI workshop was attended by about 20 participants comprising government officers from the Malaysian Agricultural and Rural Development Institute (MARDI), Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (FELCRA) officers, lecturers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Southeast Asia Council for Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON) members, farmers from Semanggol and Tanjong Karang and Kajang residents. The workshop, which was facilitated by Pak Deri and Misnan of NOSC in Indonesia, was jointly organized by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kajang Municipal Council, Nagrak, SEACON and Seri Bayu Teratai (see article with photos.)
Malaysia Represented at India’s SRI National Symposium
Dr. Anizan Isahak represented the National University of Malaysia at India’s SRI National Symposium held in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu (December 1-3, 2008). Dr. Isahak helped create SRI-PADI, a faculty-led SRI working group at the National University of Malaysia, which has acquired modest funding to begin field evaluations in February 2009. During the symposium, she also met with Annie Mitin, executive director of the Southeast Asia Council for Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON), with whom she discussed an SRI “soft launch” in Malaysia for 2009.
SRI Trainings in Indonesia and Malaysia
Through arrangements made by Prof. Iswandi Anas of the National Indonesian Agricultural University (IPB), Dr. Isahak attended a training session on organic SRI at the National Organic SRI Center (NOSC) in Nagrak, Indonesia in the latter part of December 2008. During the visit, plans were made for two NOSC trainers to come to Malaysia during January 2009 to conduct organic SRI trainings. SRI evaluation/demonstration plots at the two sites where the trials/demonstrations were planned. Farmers, entrepreneurs and academicians were expected to attend this training, which was intended for participants from the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) and the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (FELCRA), which was expected to begin its own trials during 2009 (see SEACON article).
SRI Group Formed at National University of Malaysia (UKM)
Dr. Anizan Isahak at the National University of Malaysia relayed information about a newly-formed research group at UKM called “SRI-PADI.” It includes soil scientists and plant physiologists together with a geneticist, a microbiologist, an environmental scientist, a food scientist, and an engineering geologist. The group plans to invite also mechanical engineers (to develop appropriate machines and implements for mechanization) and nutritionists (to assess the nutritional value of SRI rice). The group is seeking research funding and will conduct workshops and conferences on SRI. Faculty of UKM already have good connections with farming communities in rice-growing areas of Malaysia that can facilitate trials and evaluation.
Formation of the group follows from a visit by Norman Uphoff from Cornell in June 2008, when he met with the Minister of Agriculture and senior staff in the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as with rice scientists at the Malaysian Agricultural and Rural Development Institute (MARDI), and with a representative of the NGO community interested in sustainable agriculture. A meeting was also arranged with faculty at the National University of Malaysia (UKM) by Dr. Anizan Isahak. The visit was sponsored and supported by an interdisciplinary group of Malaysian professionals who are interested in developing training programs for the introduction and spread of SRI methods in Malaysia.