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Improving rice-based rainfed production systems in Southeast Asia for contributing towards food security and rural development through sustainable crop production intensification
A System of Rice Intensification (SRI) project is being implemented in rainfed areas of the Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB) countries, involving smallholder farmers, researchers, extension personnel, development professionals and relevant government staff. The project aims to produce healthier and profitable rice crops under rainfed conditions using SRI methods, evaluated and refined through farmers’ participatory action research (FPAR). Experiments range from the integration of SRI principles with farmers’ current local practices i.e., “SRI-transition” to full demonstrations and assessments of SRI methodology, i.e., SRI demonstration. Results from more than 120 field experiments at 60 FPAR sites in Cambodia and Thailand have shown that SRI-transition and SRI-demonstration have 60 and 100% higher average yield compared to baseline yield in the region for the same farmers and same locales. The economic gains for farmers were higher in rainfed areas when using the new methods. This paper addresses the potential of new strategies to promote food security in rainfed areas in the LMB region by managing household and natural resources more productively.