In November 2011, five Indian farmers broke the old world record in rice yield of 19.0 tons/hectare (380 cavans/ha), held by world-famous scientist Prof. Yuan Long-ping, inventor of hybrid rice.
The best of the five, Sumant Kumar, got a yield of 22.4 tons/ha, the new world record.
How did these five farmers beat the old world record? They all used a new method of growing rice, which they learned in 2008. The method is called System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
The new world record tells us three things about SRI:
ONE: SRI is farmer-friendly. Using it, ordinary farmers obtained a yield higher than the best rice scientist in the world could attain. They got a yield higher than IRRI, Philrice, or any other rice scientist has attained. With SRI, farmers can do better than scientists.
TWO: SRI leads to quick results. Prof. Yuan Long-ping had devoted almost 40 years of his professional to improving rice yield, and managed to go as high as 19.0 tons/ha. The five farmers learned SRI only in 2008. Within three years, they had broken Prof. Yuan’s record.
THREE: SRI is reliable. If only one farmer had broken the world record, we might hear comments like, “Tsamba!” (“Lucky break!”). If two or even three had done it, Doubts might persist among a few hardline skeptics. But with five SRI farmers, there is no doubt at all, that SRI is effective in improving rice yields.
We have been promoting SRI among farmers since 2000, long before it became the world record-holder in rice yield. With this development, there is no more reason for the government to keep ignoring this method.