Mr. Nguyen Huy Lieu, Phu Tho Province
”If only I’d known about SRI earlier…”
These are words that Mr. Nguyen Huy Lieu repeated many times during a field-day workshop to evaluate the application of SRI. Mr. Lieu is one of the first 30 farmers in Kinh Ke commune, Lam Thao district, to participate in SRI trials for the 2008 spring crop. In the beginning, despite the training he received from experienced technicians and the field visit he paid to successful SRI fields in Ha Tay, Mr. Lieu still doubted that SRI techniques would improve his yields. Traditionally, rice seedlings are transplanted when they have four or five leaves and four to six tillers per cluster. But the SRI method is to transplant smaller seedlings, with only two leaves and one tiller, and to space the transplanted seedlings much more widely than is traditionally done. Out of curiosity, though, he decided to try SRI in one sao (a Vietnamese unit of area equal to 360 square meters) of his family’s rice paddies.
Getting More for Less
Taking note of the instructions and information that he had received, Mr. Lieu realised that if he followed the principles of SRI, his fields would need just one-fifth of the seeds normally required and one-half of the labour for transplantation. Moreover, his fields would need half as much fertiliser as he normally used, and would require no pesticides. On top of these reduced inputs, the average yield for one SRI sao is 260kg, while that of a non-SRI sao is just under 200kg. “Doing the calculations, I realised that using SRI would increase my profits by 120,000 VND per sao. What’s more, the SRI grains look plumper, shinier and even cleaner,” said a happy Mr. Lieu.
Changing Mindsets, Improving Livelihoods
With the spring crop producing encouraging results, Mr. Lieu has become convinced of the benefits and effectiveness of SRI, and for the autumn crop, he and his family are planning to apply SRI in 3.6 sao. At the moment, his SRI crop is in the “red tail” phase, with about 18 to 20 strong, long, and grain-rich flowers per cluster. To Mr. Lieu, this is a sign that his SRI field will be much more productive than his other fields. Having gained both technical instruction and practical experience in the application of SRI, and having seen the results of SRI first-hand, both in his fields and in the fields of others, Mr. Lieu has now become a strong advocate for SRI in his community, encouraging others to overcome their hesitation and embrace the new technique.