The project 'System of Rice Intensification with Beans Intercropping' is running since 2017 in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir. The project consisted of farmer-participative experiments involving agroecological innovations in rice cultivation. The project results as of 2020 showed rice yield up by 20%, straw yield up by 60% and farmers' net income up by 60%, with no use of agrochemicals. This difference in income means a lot in a place where agriculture is the main economic activity and the main source of food.
This method of rice cultivation based on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) reported up to 40% less water use. This is important given that agriculture consumes 70% of all freshwater withdrawals worldwide and rice farming accounts for 50% of this share. Under this new system, weed infestation decreased by up to 70%, without any use of herbicides. The lower environmental footprint of rice cultivation under this system is important for a ecologically-fragile region of Kashmir.
The current fundraising aims at reaching out to more farmers with the innovation to create a movement out of this successful innovation. You can learn more about this new method of growing rice in the YouTube video: Rice iCrop - Intercropping Rice and Legumes: https://youtu.be/AprcXULHGmw
Background and Motivation
The challenges faced by the food systems of our times are manifold—resource intensive farming, decreasing quality of food, unequal distribution of food and income, and waste. Input intensive agriculture, dependent on mineral fertilizers and pesticides, has skewed the socio-economic balance against the main growers and caretakers of food i.e. the farmers. Taking into consideration the ecological consequences of modern industrial agriculture, and the pace at which the principal natural resources vital for food—soil and water—are being exhausted irreversibly, the idea of a sustainable food system looks difficult to realise. In a 2020 communique regarding the pandemic, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (iPES Food) termed the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to rethink the world food systems and called for an urgent shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecology-based agriculture.
Aims of the Project
Rice, in addition to being the staple food for more than half the world population, is the main food for Kashmiris and is the source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of families. The importance of rice for food sovereignty and sustainable livelihoods in the region can hence not be stressed enough. Given that a transition to agroecology-based agriculture is need of the hour, rice can play a pioneering role, given its importance as a world crop. This project is a step in this direction.