A UFO? Assessment of System of Rice Intensification from the Agricultural Economics Perspective
There has been a heated debate among researchers over the impact of a set of new rice-growing cultivation methods, known as the system of rice intensification (SRI). Farmers’ field-level observations showed that the yield of SRI was more than that of conventional management practices. However, these observations were criticized because of the lack of scientific bases. Indeed, well-managed experimental fields showed no yield gains in SRI practice. In an attempt to reconcile these conflicting observations, this chapter revisits the yield potential of SRI by reviewing recent empirical evidence in agricultural economics that employs a rigorous estimation strategy. All the papers reviewed consistently showed a positive and statistically significant impact on rice yield. Thus, I argue that the yield potential of SRI may be real and not something like an agronomic unconfirmed field observation (UFO) that was once cynically expressed to evoke an unidentified flying object. In addition, I argue that careful management practice exemplified by SRI is important for improving rice yield, which has also played a crucial role in the rice Green Revolution in Asia.
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