EVEN as the government continues to insist that there is no rice supply shortage but only an abnormal increase in the price of the staple owing to soaring world market prices of commodities, the fact is the country is not 100-percent self-sufficient in rice.

As it is only able to produce 90 percent of the rice it needs, the Philippines has had to import the grain from other rice-exporting countries every year. For this year, the government is importing 2.1 million metric tons to maintain its two-month inventory.

To be sure, the Philippines has been resorting to rice importation over the last half-century. Since 2001, however, rice imports have grown to 1.32 million metric tons every year, making the country the number one rice importer in the world.

But to farmers and NGO advocates who have been propagating a rice planting method developed in Madagascar back in 1983, rice self-sufficiency is not only not impossible to attain, the government need not have to resort to importation to feed almost 90 million Filipinos.

The method they are using is called System of Rice Intensification (SRI), discovered by a French Jesuit agriculturist, Fr. Henri de Laulanie, in the course of his collection of the rice-growing practices of Madagascar’s farmers to increase their yields. Successfully tested in over 25 countries, SRI has been found to increase yields by 20 percent or more, and reduces farmers’ costs from seeds, water and external inputs (use of chemical fertilizers and other toxic chemicals).

Length: 00:10:25
File size: 26.8 MB
Videographer/Producer: Alecks P. Pabico
Video editor: Francis Ventura

Among the first to adopt SRI in the country was the late Dr. Edwin Acoba, director of the Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture. In 2001, he instructed ATI’s regional training centers to test SRI. One of Acoba’s supervisors then, Noe Ysulat, now director of the training center ng ATI in Region XII, seriously tried the system and to this day demonstrates and advocates SRI’s use in Cotabato and Southern Mindanao.

At about the same time, software engineer and social activist Roberto Verzola was also experimenting with SRI in a small farm in Tagkawayan, Quezon, and was easily impressed by the farming method. In 2002, he and other SRI advocates from the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Philippine Greens, Pabinhi, and Negros-based Broad Initiatives for Rural Development formed SRI-Pilipinas to provide trainings to farmers’ groups nationwide in the use of SRI.

With a meager funding it was able to acquire from the agriculture department, SRI-Pilipinas produces SRI primers and training videos that it then provides at cost to farmers’ groups.

But Verzola, the group’s coordinator, is urging the government to allot funds for SRI training to farmers so they can become familiarized with “this amazing method of growing rice.” SRI, he says, can be the key to the country’s rice self-sufficiency.

What makes SRI different from traditional rice planting are its core practices, which consist of the following:

  • carefully transplanting very young seedlings (two leaves, eight to 12 days old) at one seedling per hill in a square pattern of wider distances (25 centimeters by 25 centimeters or more);
  • no continuous flooding while the rice is growing, either keeping the soil moist or alternating between wet and dry every three to six days;
  • using a mechanical weeder every 10 to 14 days for weed control and soil aeration; and
  • use of compost and organic matter to encourage the growth of soil organisms.

Though the scientific community’s verdict on SRI remains mixed, Dr. Norman Uphoff, former director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development (CIIFAD) of the Cornell University, is among the scientists who have been convinced by what they desrcibed as SRI’s “incredible” results.

Based on his own empirical tests, Uphoff documented such results as increased tillering (usually averaging 30 to 50 tillers per plant or more); bigger panicles (generating 200 to 300 grains/panicle or more); larger root systems (that are five to six times more resistant to uprooting; improved grain quality (fewer unfilled and broken grains); and remarkable resistance to pests, diseases, storms, drought, and cold spells.

Uphoff’s studies also validated SRI’s greater yields from the use of less water as it promotes more root growth and aerobic soil conditions that increase root exudation. Rice plant roots, he noted, degenerate under continuously flooded conditions.

The larger root systems have also been attributed to the plants’ ability to acquire more nutrients that help resist pests and diseases.

The same results are being reported by farmers in SRI production and demonstration farms in Plaridel and Malolos, Bulacan. (see video)

(Photo credits: Still photo of Fr. Laulani taken from Dr. Uphoff’s slide presentation; Dr. Uphoff’s photos taken from the websites of the China government and Cornell University)

9 Responses to Alternative planting method key to rice self-sufficiency



April 22nd, 2008 at 3:22 am

Very nice audio and video presentation, Alecks. This is one project which the government must invest its full resources.

I notice however that everytime I browse PCIJ I see a very unflattering ad on the left: “Meet Philippine Women Filipino Beauties Seek US Men. Browse Photo Profiles. Join Free! http://www.FilipinaHeart.com.



April 22nd, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Hi Alecks,

I do appreciate your generosity in producing the SRI video in Tagalog and the effort of Francis for his effort in video editing.

This is my first time to view SRI in Tagalog and I am sure more farmers will be more convinced with the method after viewing this video.

If possible, please post this video in YouTube and tag it with words bigas, palay and SRI.

I also would like to request if you can post it on the SRI-Pilipinas group link on – http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SRI-Pilipinas/links

Thanks a lot and best regards,



Alecks P. Pabico

April 23rd, 2008 at 11:44 am

Thanks, jcc. I doubt though if the government would do that given that it takes its cue from the International Rice Research Institute, which has a pronounced bias for hybrid rice production.

It’s also a disincentive to shift to SRI because there’s nothing much to be sold — or profit from, to be blunt about it — in terms of seeds, fertilizers, and other chemical inputs that hybrid rice growing imposes on farmers.

Or as Obet Verzola puts it: “Hybrid rice production attracts a lot of businesses, as well as people who would want to make money out of the whole thing.”



April 24th, 2008 at 1:34 am

we go back to the same problem: “our sense of morality, patriotism and good conduct” is terribly flawed.



May 10th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Thanks a lot Alecks for posting this page to the SRI Main and SRI Philippines websites. The Tagalog version will surely be appreciated.

Best regards,



david sumajit

December 28th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

thank you alecks for this video. i want to show it to our fellow farmers but internet in my hometown is yet to come. matanong ko lng kung papaano madownload yung video para maipanuod ko din sa kapwa nating magsasaka.
thanks alot.


Chito B. Santos

February 26th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Lahat ng kinausap ko na magtatanim ako ng SRI system, pinagbawalan ako. Itunuloy ko ang sa akin. Sa unang 3linggo, wala silang makita sa mga seedling. Lahat sila tumatawa sa akin. After 30 to 45 days, gumanda na ang laki ng sa SRI system ang sa kanila naging yellowish ang kulay, naglagay naman sila ng 46-0-0. Ang sa akin 14-14-14.
After 45 days, marami ng suhi (30-50), higit na malaki at matataba. Nagtataka sila kung paano nangyari ang sa SRI. Alam ko may gagaya na sa SRI. Target ko 90cavan @ 54kilos sa 5000sq.m.. Ginamitan ko sya ng NUTRIENT MANAGER FOR RICE as per Philrice advice.

Maraming salamat sa mga nakabasa.



Mila Celeste

May 28th, 2012 at 10:20 am

Hi good day. I am very much interested to learn your SRI method. Do you conduct training or seminar? I m a volunteer of an NGO promoting alternative use of organic resources and other environmental concerns and has teamed up with some LGU and public schools. My friends and I are about to start with our experiment on rice l here in La Union. I”m considering of adapting the SRI method so we can pilot it at once. My mobile no is 09178257878 and 09238747778. I will appreciate to hear from your group soonest possible time. Thanks for the info posted.


Jacinto P. Valera

October 15th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Greetings Mr. Aleck,

I am Jacinto P. Valera of Sibalom, Antique, Western Visayas, an IT Instructor. I heard SRI from my colleague who happened to attend an SRI event somewhere in Iloilo City. I am not a farmer myself, but upon hearing the technology, I am amazed and even without basic technical knowledge on farming, using my common sense and basic knowledge maybe about plants growth, I can seem to understand and took interest on SRI. I made some browsing (videos, materials) about it and brought me on your site here.

I am very much convinced of the technology. For this reason that I have a few verbal encounters to some of my farmer friends and I am planning to make some inquiries on our local Department of Agriculture if there are initiatives on the adaptation of SRI in our locality (or at least suggesting it some our farmer folks).

I am quite lost in the way of the organizations (GOs and NGOs) who are in-charge of SRI. I am very much willing to communicate with you for any further information that may lead to adapting of SRI also in our town or province maybe (as I have seen in some sites that Antique have low or no statistics yet of using SRI).

Thank you and God bless.

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