System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Global and SRI Malaysia, represented by Lucy Fisher and Dr. Anizan Isahak, visited the Philippines last March 29-31, 2019 to check up on the current status of organic SRI farming in the country. SRI is a rice farming methodology used to reduce plant population but increase crop productivity, improve soil conditions and irrigation methods for better root and plant development, and improve plant establishment methods.
Ms. Fisher and Dr. Isahak visited different farmers and farmer groups in Capiz, Iloilo, and Panay. The visit was intended as a follow up for the SRI Asia Networks Workshop held last November 2018 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The workshop was envisioned to be a space wherein organic SRI practitioners can share their experiences and investigate opportunities for collaboration on scaling-up, multi-country research, value chain improvements, accessing resources, and capacity building for SRI networks.
Various meetings and seminar workshops were also held simultaneously during the visit. On March 26, 2019, a Strategic Planning Workshop for SRI Practitioners was held in Lambunao, Iloilo. This was the third in a series of workshops for SRI farming including workshops on establishing visions and missions of the initiative. This aims to establish a framework on how they can achieve their goals.
Organic SRI is endorsed as one way of sustainable agricultural practice that will be the solution, not only for the growing food insecurity, but also the worrying degradation of the environment’s ecological health. Organic SRI will help the farmers spend less on inputs but harvest more produce, heal the soil from excessive use of different chemicals, and produce healthier food for consumption that is free from the toxic chemicals often found in produce from conventional farming methods. The Center for Bayanihan Economics (CBE), represented by Din Daliva, served as one of the supporting facilitator for the event. This is a good opportunity for CBE to eye for partnerships with SRI Global, SRI Malaysia, and other organizations to advance its goals to further improve its practices for sustainable agricultural practice and share this practices and learnings to other farmers. Embodying the bayanihan spirit, CBE is considering to be a part of one of the experiment farms for organic SRI farming and be able to participate in a larger network of SRI practitioners through youth and farmer exchange programs to help them widen their knowledge and understanding of organic SRI.