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Climate- smart rice farming can reduce GHG emissions while ensuring increased productivity and food security for small holding farmers.



Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is the major staple food cultivated by the farmers in the Eastern Ghat region of South Odisha with around 38 % of its land being currently under rice cultivation. The inundation method of rice cultivation with increased use of chemical fertilizers contributes to the emission of GHGs although  farmers are not aware of this. The climate change effects resulting in erratic monsoon cycles negatively affect rice production which is one of the major reasons for food insecurity and chronic poverty of 85% of population.

System of Rice Intensification is an innovative method for higher yield, water saving, and  coping with the  adverse effects of climate change,having at the same time considerable impact on green house gas emissions with a net reduction of 20-40% per ha and more per kg. of rice produced, because of different practices for plant, soil, water and organic nutrient management.In addition, SRI is estimated to reduce fresh water use in rice cultivation by about 25- 50%, cutting production costs and enhancing household food security  and income for farm households.

The project proposes to scale up SRI in South Odisha covering 2000 ha  farmed by 10,000 farmers over a period of 5 years based on the experience changing from flooded cultivation to SRI methods, production will increase by 60- 70 % while GHG emissions will decrease each year. As SRI benefits becomes better known, there can be farmer to farmer spread because SRI depends on Knowledge rather than purchased inputs. Although  SRI is beneficial for farmers and the environment , scaling up requires purposeful efforts.The project will use  video dissemination for extension  and will make critical inputs available  like stress tolerant seeds, organic manures and simple weeders.

The project will measure  GHG emission reduction involving research institutions  and Agriculture Department officials. The project will establish a SRI Farmers Network for up-scaling to other parts of  Odisha.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

Agricultural practices emit over 50% of global non-carbon dioxide GHG emissions. About 7% of these emissions are a result of rice farming, and over 80% of GHG emissions from rice farming are produced in South and Southeast Asia (India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Burma). Many different mechanisms for controlling methane emissions have been proposed, including varietal choice and fertilizer use, but water management and modifying quantities of organic amendment dominate. SRI management contributes to mitigation objectives by decreasing the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) when continuous flooding of paddy soils is stopped and other rice-growing practices are changed.  Methane (CH4) is reduced between 22% and 64% as intermittent irrigation (or alternate wetting and drying, AWD) means that soils have more time under aerobic conditions (Gathorne-Hardy et al. 2013, 2016; Choi et al. 2015; Jain et al. 2014; Suryavanshi et al. 2013; Wang 2006; Dill et al. 2013),  Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions increase only slightly with SRI or sometimes decrease as the use of N fertilizers is reduced. No studies so far have shown N2O increases offsetting the gains from CH4 reduction (Kumar et al. 2007; Visalakshmi et al. 2014; Vermeulen et al. 2012; Gathorne-Hardy et al. 2013, 2016; Choi et al. 2015).  Total global warming potential (GWP) from rice paddies was reduced with SRI methods in the above studies by 20-30%, and up to 73% in one of the studies (Choi et al. 2015).

Rice is the staple food crop grown by the farmers in the proposed  two districts i.e.  Koraput and Raygada in South Odisha. Rice is cultivated on 176,000 ha. of land with a low average yields of 4 tons/ha  which on the other hand accounts  for emission of GHGs, although the farmers are not aware of this effect. In conventional rice farming, the rice field is flooded with water causing anaerobic conditions and resulting in increased methane emissions. In this context, there is utmost need of eco-friendly alternative to the traditional rice farming systems for sustainable production and for coping with the adversities of climate change.

In contrast, SRI changes in the ways that rice plants, soil, water and nutrients are managed can elicit more productive and robust phenotypes from most rice varieties, while also conferring concomitant environmental benefits. Because these changes raise crop yields at the same time that they lower production costs, farmer’s net income ha_1 is raised by more than the improvement in yield. This increase, usually at least 50% but often even more, is achieved with reduced consumption of water, with more resilience to the effects of adverse climate, and with diminished greenhouse gas emissions. SRI method through alternate wetting and drying and mechanical weeding facilitates aerobic condition, thereby, reducing the formation of methane. SRI plants thrive with 40-50% less irrigation water per land area, organic matter-enriched soils are able to store more water and furnish nutrients helping to develop strong root system resulting in a robust plant physiology that is more adapted to climatic adversities.

The proposed project will scale up System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a paradigm shift in the way rice is being grown in Koraput and Raygada District, to cover 2000 ha land cultivated by 10,000 farmers in 5 years. The farmers in these districts practice the inundated method of rice cultivation both under rain fed and irrigated conditions with intensive use of chemical fertilizers producing an average yield of 4 tons/ha. Pragati-Koraput has demonstrated that SRI can give increased production of 7 tons/ha with organic practices, less water and reduced production cost.

In spite of the benefits, it is quite challenging to scale up the technology among farmers due to factors like lack of adequate promotional measures and appropriate financial and policy support. Since SRI involves the transfer and application of new knowledge, it requires effective mobilization of farmers and adequate backstopping to enable them adopt the new practices.

Proposed Activities

The following activities are proposed for further scaling up of SRI

  • Training of Community Resource Persons: As SRI requires dissemination of technical skills, a cadre of local Community Resource Persons will be recruited from the relevant villages and trained to be master trainers, to be able to mobilize the farmers and provide on-field support services during the different stages of crop production.
  • Training for farmers and video dissemination: The CRPs will provide field-level training to progressive farmers at several stages of the rice-growing season. Video dissemination using Pico Projectors will be conducted timed for the different stages of the crop production cycle which will be the most cost-effective and efficient method to increase adoption by the farmers. The progressive trained farmers will in turn train their peer farmers in groups which will help in further scale up SRI use, showing by their success in their own fields how to benefit from the new methods.
  • Skill training to Self-Help Groups (SHGs): As women perform more than 60% of the operations in rice farming, the women leaders of SHGs will be trained in the package of practices like transplanting, nursery raising, mechanical weeding, soil nutrient management, and post-harvest practices. This will not only enhance their skills, but will also enable them to earn extra income as skilled agriculture workers  and at the same time scale up adoption.As women acquire skills, they will gain the status as farmers who are the major workforce in rice farming.
  • Formation and strengthening of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs): Existing FPOs will be strengthened, and new FPOs will be facilitated to enable farmers to have access to Government schemes, institutional credit, information and markets. FPOs will be federated to form a network of SRI farmers for further scaling up.
  • Provide critical input support to farmers: The farmers will be provided with critical inputs like improved and stress-tolerant seeds, organic manures and weeders which are most essential for scaling up.The inputs will be provided through the FPOs, and the farmers will contribute partially to avail themselves of the benefits.In this connection, we have partnership with Tata Trusts and International Rice Research Institute(IRRI) who will support for the inputs like stress tolerant varieties,weeders,organic manures etc.
  • Establishment of Agro Service Centres: Scale-up requires farm mechanization to reduce drudgery and achieve timely implementation of the agriculture operations. The project will establish Agro Service Centres (ASCs) with equipment like tractors, power tillers, transplanters, threshers, etc. at selected clusters to provide custom hiring services at a fair price to the poor farmers. The FPOs will be linked with financial institutions and Government schemes to establish the agro-service centres within the project areas. The revenue generated from the Centres will then used to maintain and manage the equipment, provide service charges and for further establishment  of  similar Service Centres within the project areas as the project is scaled up. 
  • Seed villages and community seed banks: The project will establish seed villages and community seed banks to conserve local, stress-tolerant varieties. Seed fairs will be organised to facilitate exchange of seed among farmers. As the project will promote conservation and multiplication of indigenous seed varieties, field-level research will be conducted for varietal demonstration and local seed multiplication.The resources for the seed banks will be mobilised from Government schemes and other donors so that the farmers get quality seeds in time.
  • Interface with district line departments: The Agriculture Department  and researchers have  a significant role as its staff can provide promotional support to the farmers. The project will create an environment for regular dialogue among the farmers and the line departments and will also involve them in project implementation and monitoring.
  • Monitoring of GHG emission at selected sites: Sample plots will be established in coordination with  research institutions and Agriculture Department, and systematic data will be collected regularly from the sample plots of SRI and conventional rice production to compare the GHG emissions during the entire rice-growing seasons. This will establish valid data to standardize and ascertain GHG emission level from rice fields in the intervention areas and to estimate total amount of GHG reduced annually through SRI method in the districts. The data will be shared at different levels for influencing policy decisions and also to spread awareness among stakeholders.
  • Documentation and dissemination to other farmers in the project areas: The project will document best practices and use video dissemination through Pico Projectors to reach out to other farmers in the area. The project will use other publicity measures like posters and wall writings to spread the message.
  • Implementation strategy:

The Project implementation team will consist of the Programme Coordinator having technical expertise and experience in implementation of such projects. He/She would be responsible for overall implementation of the Project with support of Project Executives and the Community Resource Persons. He/She  will be responsible for overall monitoring of the project, ensure project related documentation, liaison with the line departments’ at district level for convergence and prepare periodical reports. The Project Executives will be responsible for field level execution, technical guidance to the CRPs and FPOs. The CRPs will be trained and will directly work with farmers under the guidance of the Project Executives.

The project will be technically supported by the SRI International network and Resources Centre at Cornell University,USA,part of the international programmes of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Conell. The Agriculture department  and research institutions will also be involved in project implementation and monitoring.

The project will demonstrate a scalable model of community-based, low-carbon rice production that can be scaled up to other rice-growing areas in South Odisha and beyond. By delivering and documenting direct farmer economic benefits which are associated with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions along with a number of other social and environmental co-benefits, the project phase will generate data demonstrating to the Government line departments and others that low-carbon rice farming is an economically sustainable way to address both development and environmental goals.

Who will take these actions?

Pragati Koraput will implement and manage the project involving the Farmer Producer Organizations, women Self Help Groups, Department of Agriculture and research institutions like International Rice Research Institute and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology.

Farmer Producer Organizations: Reaching to farmers through organised farmers’ collective action organizations will be more effective for information dissemination, leveraging Government schemes, accessing institutional credit and making linkage with markets and traders. Thus Farmer Producer Organizations will be involved in the project implementation. Existing farmers’ organizations will be strengthened, and new organizations will be facilitated wherever necessary. The FPOs will be facilitated to form a SRI network for scaling-up SRI and influencing policy decisions.

Women’s Self-Help Groups: Since women in the proposed areas perform more than 60% of the farm operations in rice farming, there is need of more involvement of women in technology transfer. It is always more effective and efficient to engage with women when they are acting together in groups. Thus the project will work with the existing women’s SHGs and also promote new SHGs to develop their skills and knowledge on the different aspects of SRI where women play a key role, especially in nursery raising, transplanting, weeding, and post-harvest.

Department of Agriculture: The government support is very significant both at the policy as well as the implementation level for up-scaling of SRI. Though the Government is providing support for promotion of SRI, it is very sporadic, and the scale is not very significant. So the project will liaise with the Department of Agriculture to mobilize support for subsidies for critical inputs like weeders and organic manure. The district-level Department officials will also be involved in promoting and monitoring and also for post-project support.

Research Institutions: The project will involve  research institutions, i.e., the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), with whom Pragati has technical collaboration. These institutions will provide support for promoting scientifically-tested stress-tolerant varieties of rice which are suitable for the project areas within the changing context of climate and also technological support for the conservation of seeds of successful landraces. This proposal will also be supported technically by the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) at Cornell University, USA, part of the International Programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, which has been catalytic for disseminating the knowledge and practices for SRI ( It is a source of expertise and problem-solving on SRI and gives access to extensive scientific literature (

Where will these actions be taken?

The actions will be taken up in Koraput and Raygada Districts in  South Odisha. These districts having  2,344,845,population  out of which 54% are  tribal communities. More than 85% of population are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Rice is cultivated in  176,000 hectares, almost 38% of the total cultivable land. Rice is the major staple food,and a family of 4-5 persons consumes approximately 400 kg of rice per year. The Jeypore tract in southern Odisha is thought to be one of the secondary centers of origin for cultivated rice (, so a large number of varieties of indigenous rice are found there and in Koraput more generally.  

The project will target the small and marginal farmers initially in two adjoining districts, i.e., Koraput and Raygada, where the farmers are primarily dependent on agriculture, and rice is the major crop produced both for consumption and for sale. Less than 10% of the cultivable lands are irrigated. The communities in the proposed areas are highly dependent on the natural resource base for their survival, and their livelihood systems revolve primarily around agriculture, supplemented by forests and wage labour. The majority of agricultural production is rain fed, subsistence farming, predominantly centred on cultivation of rice and minor millets. The landholdings are very small and fragmented, averaging less than 1 ha. Average annual rainfall is 1445 mm, of  which 75% is received from June to September, 13% is received from Oct- Feb and the rest is received from March-May. Although this should be enough for two crops, there is a lack of technology and infrastructure to tap rainwater and utilize this a second crop. To complicate matters the monsoon cycle is becoming more irregular and erratic with short-term dry spells during the rains which can coincide with flowering or other critical crop-growth stages, causing crop failure. At the same time, heavy and torrential rains (150 to 250 mm per hour) can cause flooding and heavy run-off, resulting in sheet, rill and gully erosion.

The soil is mostly red laterite in nature with textures of sandy loam and clay loam; it is slightly to moderately acidic and it is deficient in nitrogen, potash and some micro-nutrients such as zinc and boron, causing nutrient imbalances. Seed is either broadcast into ploughed dry soil or dibbled in non-puddle soil. Because of a welter of biotic and abiotic stresses, the average rice production in the districts is as low as 4 tons/ha. Depending on the location, between 20% and 60% of food requirements are met from households’ own production, and most of the farm-dependent families face 5-6 months of food insecurity. The subsidized food rations distributed by the Government and purchases from income generated through seasonal NTFPs and wage labour are some of the alternatives to cope with the food-insecure periods, but these are not really sufficient.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2

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What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Flooding continuously in conventional rice cultivation system stimulates the biological process of methane production by inducing anaerobic conditions in the soil which favor the abundance and activity of methanogenic bacteria (Mitra et al., 2012). The project will help reduce GHG emissions by reducing the water requirement by 40-50% and the use of organic manures instead of reliance on inorganic fertilizers which create an abundance of nitrogen as substrate for methane generation. As the project proposes to put 15% of the total rice lands under SRI, GHG emission will be substantially reduced. A study by Oxford and Indian researchers in neighboring Telangana state found SRI management reducing net GHG emissions by about 40% (Gathorne-Hardy et al. 2016). Such numbers can vary widely, however, because they are sensitive to influences of soil structure, water, temperature, pH, and organic matter. There is enough evidence in the literature to support the Telengana findings as indicative of impact.

  • Methane (CH4) is reduced by between 22% and 64% when soils are maintained under mostly aerobic conditions rather than being flooded.
  • Under SRI management, nitrous oxide (N2O) is only slightly increased or sometimes even reduced as the use of N fertilizers is reduced; N20 increases do not offset CH4 reductions, so GWP is reduced.
  • Total global warming potential (GWP) from flooded rice paddies is reduced by 20-30%, and even up to 73% in a study done in Korea (Choi et al., 2015).

Here is a summary of result of one review of SRI impacts done for FAO: FAO.  From Natural Capital Impacts in Agriculture, FAO 2015

What are other key benefits?


  • Higher water productivity with SRI gives ‘more crop per drop’ and will reduce pressure on fresh water use by 40-50%. Increased yield should also reduce pressure to convert additional land to rice farming which will ultimately contribute to reduction in GHG. Farmers may be motivated to take up other crops like pulses in the rice fallows which will contribute to soil health.The farmers will be encouraged to take up other crops like vegetables and tubers which require less water and reduce GHG emission.
  • Use of organic manures and adoption of organic ways of pest management  will restore soil health and reduce water pollution of surface as well as ground water sources.


  • As production will increase by 60-70%, food security will be ensured at household level for an additional of 5-8 months. Households having 0.5 ha of land will have food throughout the year from own production.
  • Farmers will enhance their income as yield increases will generate a surplus for sale.It will take rice farming beyond subsistence agriculture to making profit out of rice production.
  • Production expenditures will be reduced, especially for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as organic manures like pot manure,jibamruta,vermi compost which are less costly and can be prepared by the farmers themselves using local resources (any organic or vegetative material); costs for irrigation  will be reduced as SRI requires 40-50% less water. Reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides will reduce the health hazards both for human beings and livestock.
  • Drudgery of women will be reduced with mechanical weeding as the responsibilities will be shared by men, and women will have more time freed up for other productive and domestic activities, even more time for themselves.
  • As SRI will enhance the skills of women farmers, it will increase their efficiency in rice production,enhance their confidence and status as women farmers.
  • Farm mechanization will increase efficiency of work of the farmers, reduce drudgery and help farmers in timely execution of the agriculture activities.
  • Local seeds and germ plasm will be conserved which is more adaptable to climatic adversity.The farmers can avail the quality seeds in time from their respective seed banks.



What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Direct economic gain from the project over a period of five  years  

1. Area  of land to be covered : 2,000 ha

2. Farmers benefitted :                10000 farmers

3. Yield increased :                        6000 tons

4. Income earned through yield gain:   USD 1200000

Project costs

The estimated total cost of the project is 29500 USD for a period of  one year.This includes the cost for project activities like training, critical input need, establishment of agro service centres and the  research to document GHG emissions. Out of the total budget we have mobilised balance amount   from Tata Trusts  and   IRRI. We have also linkage with Government  and NABARD for part support for this initiative. 

The project fund USD 10000 will be utilized to conduct research which will consist of data collection, consolidation, analysis and presenting with stakeholders for monitoring of GHG emissions in 100 ha of sample plots under different conditions.

The major challenges for the project are:

Getting cooperation of Government line departments may be initially challenging as some of the mandates like organic practices and use of indigenous seeds are not currently promoted under Government schemes. So, as best  it can the project will involve the agriculture department in  implementation and monitoring to gain their cooperation  and understanding of the project.

As the project will collect  data on GHG reduction, we may face some difficulties in capturing the extensive reliable data (e.g., high-resolution soil survey maps, hydrology data,meteorological data) necessary to create a model for estimating GHG mitigation at large scale. Because this is a multi-year project, we may also face challenges in sustaining farmers’ interest and compliance with the required protocols in research. To address these potential challenges, Pragati will conduct participatory outreach and involve the FPOs from the outset to ensure that farmers are informed and reminded of the benefits of the project. We will also involve the research institutions and the Agriculture Department.In this participatory process,Pragati Koraput has considerable experience working with these and similar community since 20 years in the field of Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Agriculture . So it has staff with competence to launch and maintain such a process.


The project will be implemented over a period of 5 years which is realistic timeline to establish the processes for impact assessment especially in agronomic practice changes, yield increase, reduction in the amount of  chemical fertilizers and pesticides used. The research institutions involved IRRI,OUAT,Cornell University and SRI network will like to conduct trial  over  multiple cropping cycles to validate the data so that there should be quality control.The measurable impact on GHG emissions, organic practices and water use will be visible in the medium term within next 10 years and the reduction in GHG emission will have impact within 15 years.

1st Year : We will cover 5000 farmers and 250  ha. The following  activities will be taken up with support of Tata Trusts and IRRI. 

  1. Recruitment and Training of Community Resource Persons:
  2. Training for farmers and video dissemination:
  3. Skill training to SHGs:
  4. Provide critical input support to farmers
  5. Establishment of seed villages and seed banks
  6. Interface with Government  line departments
  7. Research of GHG emission in 100 ha of  SRI plots 

2nd Year: 10000 farmers covering 500 ha .The following activities will be taken up:

  1. Video dissemination:
  2. Formation   and strengthening of   FPOs
  3. Provide critical input support to Farmers
  4. Establishment of Agro Service centres
  5. Interface with Government line departments
  6. Monitoring and documentation of  GHG emissions

3rd Year: 10000 farmers  covering 750 ha. The following activities will be taken up

  1. Provide critical input support to Farmer
  2. Interface with  line departments
  3. Monitoring and documentation of GHG emissions

4th Year: 10 000 farmers  covering 2000 ha and the following activities will be taken up

  1. Strengthening of   FPOs
  2. Interface with  line departments
  3. Monitoring and documentation of GHG emissions

5th Year : 10000 farmers  covering 2000 ha with the following activities:

  1. Training of FPOs
  2. Interface with  line departments
  3. Monitoring and documentation of  GHG emissions

About the author(s)

Prabhakar Adhikari: Secretary of Pragati Koraput, who has 25 years of experience working on sustainable agriculture in the region, and who has piloted the introduction of SRI among the tribal farmers in South Odisha, India.

Dr. Nimain Charan Mishra: Technical Advisor(Agriculture) of Pragati,Koraput, retired Professor and Entomologist of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology has experience in  organic farming and crop intensification.

Dr. Luna Panda: Executive Director of the organization, who has been involved in implementing projects for SRI and sustainable agriculture and who has much experience in community mobilization and institution building in the region. She has participated in action research on both SRI and women’s empowerment.

Muralidhar Adhikari: Team Leader of Pragati- Koraput, who has 11 years of working experience in programmes related to the System of Crop Intensification, which includes crops beyond rice, particularly rainfed crops like finger millet (ragi). He has provided the technical inputs for the development of the proposal, especially related to the programmes necessary for scale up.

Pradeepta Kishore Sethi: Project Coordinator of Pragati Koraput who has been working to promote system of rice intensification through organic practices among 1,800 women farmers in Kotpad block of Koraput District, Odisha.

Related Proposals

Reducing methane emissions from rice farming


  1. Green House Gas Emissions from Rice: RGTW Working Paper Number 3 (2013) Alfred Gathorne-Hardy1
  2. A. Gathorne-Hardy, A, D. Narasimha Reddy, M. Venkatanarayana, and B. Harriss-White (2016). System of Rice Intensification provides environmental and economic gains but at the expense of social sustainability - A multidisciplinary analysis in India. Agricultural Systems 143:159-168. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2015.12.012
  3. J.D. Choi, G.Y. Kim, W.J. Park, M.H. Shin, Y.H. Choi, S. Lee, D.B. Lee, and D.K. Yun (2015). Effect of SRI methods on water use, NPS pollution discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions in Korean trials. Paddy and Water Environment 13: 205-213. doi: 10.1007/s10333-014-0422-6
  4. NABARD (2012). Report on System of Rice Intensification: Pilot Project in Jharkhand (2011-2012). National Bank for Agricultural Research and Development, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.
  5. “Global Anthropogenic Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 1990 – 2030.” Revised December 2012. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Link:
  6. Natural Capital Impacts in Agriculture: Supporting Better Business Decision Making (June 2015) FAO, Rome.
  7. SRI International Network and Resources Center. Website:
  8. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is climate-smart rice production. 4th International Rice Congress, Bangkok (2014).
  1. N. Uphoff, N. and E. Fernandes. (2011). System of Rice intensification gains momentum.