The system of rice intensification (SRI) was developed by Father Henri de Laulanie in Madagascar in the early 1980s. He was a Jesuit priest who spent over 30 y working with farmers in this country (Barkelaar 2001). Because it is a set of recommended practices, SRI is considered a system rather than a technology. Rather than being simply adopted, practices associated with SRI should always be tested and varied, according to local conditions (Uphoff et al 2002). Reported results with SRI methods were remarkable.
In some areas in Madagascar with the poorest soils and where yields of 2 t ha-1 are known, farmers using SRI get yields averaging more than 8 t ha-1, with some getting 10-15 t ha-1 (Barkelaar 2001). Yuan (2002) stated that, if inbred varieties can obtain such a high yield, it is quite possible that hybrid rice, especially super hybrid rice, can yield even higher using SRI methods. This belief is based on two considerations. First, hybrid rice varieties have 44 December 2005 greater yield potential than inbred varieties under the same conditions. Second, traditional Chinese cultivation methods are similar to SRI in some respects, such as the use of organic fertilizers, wide spacing between plants, manual weeding (instead of using herbicides), keeping soil wet, and alternate drying and flooding.