Rice is an essential part of cuisine in many countries – especially when it comes to preparing an array of international dishes. As you settle into the latest green restaurant or want to embrace a more ecologically sound method of cooking, consider an approach that has taken more than 30 years to cultivate. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) involves methods that alter the way rice is typically grown. In the end, you are left with more eco-friendly rice and less strain on the planet.
What is SRI?
Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, has a website devoted to explaining the System of Rice Intensification. It states that SRI is "a methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice cultivation by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. SRI practices lead to healthier, more productive soil and plants by supporting greater root growth and by nurturing the abundance and diversity of soil organisms."
The Benefits of SRI
The methods of SRI first started in Madagascar during the early 1980s, and are currently being used in more than 35 countries. Through innovation, farmers with limited resources are now able to increase their rice production by using 80 to 90 percent less seed and 25 to 50 percent less water. Additional, the method means good news for the earth, as fewer to no chemical fertilizers and pesticides are needed in the process.
Not having to purchase new seeds or switch to high-yielding varieties is another benefit of SRI farming methods that growers enjoy. Farmers can still nurture the seeds they have historically cultivated in their culture. When the method is followed correctly, rice plants display a better resistance to pests and diseases. This further reduces the need to use chemicals as a preventive or corrective measure.
Adapting to SRI methods of farming is a process – one that requires skillful management. To reap the fruits of water conservation and healthier food, more work is needed to create an improved system of growing. For example, increased weeding makes sure that water is productively used for the plants, which is important in countries that do not possess large water supplies.
Increased biodiversity arises when soil is not saturated, as flooded paddies are a common characteristic of rice growing in many countries. When paddies are unflooded, methane is not produced – meaning there is a decrease in the amount of 'greenhouse gases' released into the air, which contributes to the global warming crisis.
Purchase Eco-Friendly Rice
If you are interested in sampling rice grown under SRI practices, Lotus Foods offers a variety of different SRI and organic rice to outfit your kitchen, including Cambodian Flower Rice, Madagascar Pink Rice, and Indonesian Volcano Rice. Grown on small family farms in limited quantities, you can easily enhance the taste, texture, color and nutritional value of your healthy dishes.
By Yona Williams