Pro-net 21 collaborated a workshop on SRI practice in Indonesia organized by Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Laos.
Pro-net 21 is now conducting “the livelihood improvement project for rural poor in Central and Northern Laos with increased rice yields by a low-input paddy cultivation method (System of Rice Intensification: SRI)" as the JICA Partnership Program.

As a part of the project, a presentation titled as “the current situation of the spread of SRI in Indonesia” was made at Meeting Hall in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on March 28th by inviting Shuichi Sato, who has engaged in the spread of SRI in Indonesia for more than 5 years and made considerable achievement, to Vientiane as the lecturer.

In this workshop, where not only high-ranking officials and the people concerned of Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, but also people in charge of the irrigation section of each province in the country participated, the seminar was very efficient and effective, and the participants’ reaction was also positive.

In addition, it is pleased to receive the comment from Mr Hatano from JICA Laos office that he wants to keep supporting SRI under the JICA Partnership, and to have the opportunity to hear the experience of SRI in Laos from 2001 to 2007 from Mr Sengthong from Oxfam Australia who also attended in the workshop.

After coffee break, the discussion was proceeded by Mr. Kampat (chief of Irrigation Department ), and the experienced people (a deputy director of Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Vientiane Capital, chiefs of Irrigation Section, Agriculture and Forestry Department in each Sayabouly province and Luang Prabang Province, and a manager of farmers management irrigation project in northern parts of Luang Prabang Province) made a speech based on their own experience. It was the most favourable that Laos (Tha Ngone, Sayabouly, Luang Prabang) has already experienced SRI for 2 seasons despite the small areas, and the participants from other provinces felt very familiar to their experience.

The main points of the presenters on the Laos side are following.

(1)The effects of SRI (low input and yield increase) basically are basically recognized.

(2)Especially, it is satisfying to save the amount of seed paddy.

(3)Difficulties to access the rotating weeders requires some support.

(4)The actions against the damages by apple snails and grass hoppers, which are concentrated for one or two months after planting rice, are needed.

In this regard, Lecturer Sato responded as follows.

(3)Though it is better to use rotating weeders, but they are not always needed. The things that rural people can create by themselves such as the board nailed down are also good. The most important thing is to weed in the (earlier) situation where grass is not growing to the eye. To weed earlier in the first time reduces the labor for the second and third weeding.

(4)To control apple snails is effective for drying the rice field completely. It is important to dry well. Moreover, organic pesticides with natural materials (e.g. narural toxins contained in bamboos?)are very effective and this technique needs to be used in Laos as well. In terms of drying the rice field, the current situation of Tha Ngone is not sufficient at all. The effects of intermittent irrigation help to revitalize roots by drying well. Also, drying well has a great contribution especially to saving electricity for pump irrigation.

In this workshop, lots of things could be learnt from the Lecturer Sato’s SRI experience. Especially, his talk about the experience that the spread of SRI was led, not by Ministry of Agriculture, but by Water Resource Department (Irrigation) in Indonesia made good sense. That is to say, the spread of SRI provides considerable benefits to irrigation.

So far, various programs such as “water management” and ”unionisation of irrigation association” have been implemented, but people in Irrigation Department, Laos, generally think about water management only from the engineering perspectives, and thus it is hard to recognize the specific incentives for stalkeholders (farmers and people in charge of irrigation).

In the future, it is expected to consider the “overall agricultural management”, generate synergic effects, and review the essence of better agriculture by farmers, as seen in the case in which enhancing the understandings about SRI by people engaging in irrigation countributes to recognizing the importance of specific water resource to realize the worth of irrigation facilities, becoming able to watch around the rice field more frequently for not only water management but also crop observation. In this regard, it can be said that this workshop, where Irrigation Department officially declared *"New Irrigation Initiative"* was a landmark.

In the future, under the "SRI Lao-New Irrigation Initiative", It is expected that the spread of SRI in Laos will be facilitated significantly.

According to Mr Sato, he made a presentation about SRI in Washington by World Bank’s invitation last month. It was said there that World Bank is planning to include SRI positively in the relevant projects as a component in the future.

In terms of this workshop, it went into the headlines of the Vientiane Times, the national English language newspaper, on April 1st, 2008.

<Presentation by Mr.Sato>
<Group photo of participants>