The System of Rice Intensification in Practice: Explaining Low Farmer Adoption and High Disadoption in Madagascar
Cornell Dept. of Applied Economics & Management Working Paper
28 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2002
Date Written: March 2002
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has received a fair amount of attention in recent years both in and outside of Madagascar, where incredible yield increases have been achieved using few external inputs and less water and seed. SRI initially seemed well suited to Madagascar due to the unavailability or cost of fertilizer and the inability of most farmers to grow enough rice to feed their families. Despite its promise, farmer adoption of SRI in the areas where it was promoted has been low, "disadoption" (abandonment) of the method has been high, and those who continue to practice the method rarely do so on more than half of their land.
To help explain this phenomenon from an economic perspective, a study was conducted in five communities in Madagascar in 2000, using both participatory research methods and a household survey of over 300 farmers. Based on the study, we find that SRI is difficult for most farmers to practice because it requires significant additional labor inputs at a time of the year when liquidity is low and labor effort is already high. Thus, the poorer the farmer and the more his income depends on rainy season crops, the less able he is to take advantage of the technology.
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