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Indian farmer sets new world record in rice yield

MANILA, Philippines - Indian officials have confirmed a farmer’s claim of beating the rice yield world record of 19 tons per hectare previously held by hybrid rice developer Yuan Long-ping of China.

Sumant Kumar, a rice farmer from India’s state of Bihar who uses a new rice-growing method called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), reported a harvest of 22.4 tons (448 cavans) per hectare last November. His claim was confirmed in a verification visit by Bihar State agriculture officials, including the agriculture director, the official in charge of national food security, “a team of agriculture experts”, and the Nalanda district agriculture officer, who said, “the team found the claims true.”

Sumant’s neighbors got slightly lower yields, but still ahead or at par with the previous world record. Rice farmer Krishna Kumar got 22 tons, Nitish Kumar 19.6, Ramanand Singh 19.2 and Sanjay Kumar 19 tons. All used the SRI method. Almost 90 percent of rice farmers in the Nalanda district are already using SRI, district agriculturist Sudama Mahto said.

In the Philippines, the highest yield claim on record is 355 cavans (17.8 tons) per hectare, attained by Fernando Gabuyo of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, using what is called the Rice Profit Protocol (RPP). The national average is below four tons per hectare.

In 2004, a study by Roberto Verzola calculated the average paddy yield among SRI practitioners in the Philippines at six tons per hectare.

Verzola today coordinates the national network SRI Pilipinas, whose trainers conduct one-day SRI trainings upon request. SRI Pilipinas also sends the free SRI primer by mail to farmers who text their name and address to 0939-117-8999.

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Last September, SRI farmers in Luzon hit by typhoons Pedring and Quiel found that their SRI-grown rice plants survived the two typhoons better than their neighbors’, aside from raising yields and cutting costs.

Verzola urged the Department of Agriculture to fund SRI promotion and trainings among farmers, to prepare them for the 2012 typhoon season

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