The problem of ill-health is inextricably linked to the problem of food availability. Many rural communities rely on their land to provide them with calories, nutrition and possibly a small income. The primary crop is rice, and most farmers do not have irrigation. Dependence on a single rain fed crop places these farmers and communities in a vulnerable position.
Small and marginal farmers have been hit by the vagaries of the monsoon and higher costs for seeds and fertilizer. Farming, once a mainstay of the rural economy, is becoming an increasingly unprofitable and unsustainable livelihood. In this situation the new organic rice growing system developed by farmers in Madagascar shows great potential to to improve yields 100 to 400%. It is popularly known as The Madagascar Method or System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
Agriculture at JSS
JSS is working with 50 farmers in 5 villages to apply SRI methods to an acre of each farm, with the goal of spreading the use of organic SRI farming throughout the villages served by JSS. At our demonstration plot in Ganiyari and in numerous farms in the field, we have shown that it is possible to at least double the yield of rice crops in Chattisgargh.
SRI focuses on healthy soil conditions to promote better vegetative growth of the rice plant. SRI practices include transplanting seedlings earlier, maintaining wide, regular spacing, and intermitantly wetting and drying the field instead of flooding. Additionally, organic inputs are used instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and genetically modified seeds.