• Farmer Exchange Visit in Surin, Thailand (10-13 November 2014)

    Single, younger and wider spaced rice plants taking climate variability in its stride

    Younger single seedling (ต้นเดี่ยว/”Tn Deiyw”) & wider spacing led to tremendous response in plant’s vigor that resulted to “ZERO lodging” of the rice plants in Surin grown with SRI. The response was not only limited to commonly grown Homali 105 (Jasmine rice) rice but also niche varieties like Black Jasmine, Rice Berry and glutinous varieties like Ka Kho 6 (RD 6). Healthy and vigorous growth are paying rich dividends to the farmers and translating into higher yield, which many SMART farmers reported in terms of 4.6-5.5 Tons/ha, which is more than double compared to the normal yield. This was witnessed during a Farmer Exchange Visit recently held in Surin province of Thailand, 10-13 Nov 2014.

    A two day, “Farmer Exchange Visit” was organized by the Department of Non-Formal Education, Surin, Thailand in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations under the EU funded regional project “Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning around the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the Lower Mekong River Basin” (SRI-LMB). The purpose of the visit was to foster knowledge exchange for fuelling similar innovation pathways in other project countries Cambodia and Lao PDR and Vietnam. A common dialogue platform was introduced at the provincial office of the SRI-LMB where farmers and district trainers from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand were able to share their ideas and "innovated" themselves for ongoing/upcoming FPAR (farmer’s led local experimentation) activities in their respective countries. Simultaneous flow of Khmer and Lao language, which is widely spoken by Thai farmers in Surin, provided direct communications links and better understanding among participants.

    The objectives of the exchange visit were: (1) to strengthen the capacity of farmer and district trainers in designing, conducting, evaluating and managing experiments through Farmer Participatory Action Research (FPAR), and (2) to strengthen regional networking on matters related to the implementation of SRI research and development among farmers, extension agents and research institution representatives. The two days visit to SRI-LMB project sites, those included local experimentation and SRI demonstration fields in Chumphonburi and Srikhoraphum districts of Surin, extended cross-border peer-peer learning and enhanced the momentum for learning and encouragement among the learners.

    It was interesting to observe that despite of the prevailing bad weather conditions felt this year in Thailand; SRI experiments setups were not much affected. The farmers and trainers are very hopeful to have a great start next season with more area under SRI in Thailand and also in Lao PDR who are going to initiate their field set up in dry season this year.

    • Please check our photo gallery for the complete set of Farmer Exchange Visit pictures.