IPM in Rice
Rice is the second major cereal in Afghanistan after wheat. There is no major problem of insects or diseases in rice, except the conventional cultivation method that uses 40-50 days old seedlings, transplanted randomly in a field that is always kept flooded is an important impediment to better plant growth and thereby achieve higher yields. The focus of IPM in rice is thus to improve the management of crop, supporting better plant growth for achieving higher yields.
Fitting very much with the overall concept of IPM, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has been introduced as the overall strategy to improve rice yields. SRI is characterized by higher yields with reduced use of water and external inputs, especially chemical fertilizers.
Using SRI, rice yield can be doubled or tripled to as high as 10, 15 even up to 17 tons per hectare depending on the skills and experience of farmers on the method, while reducing the water use by 50-70%. Because water is a scarce resource in Afghanistan, SRI bears huge potential for improving the productivity of rice in Afghanistan.
SRI is laid on the improvement of soil health and development of root system by bringing a change in the management of crop. SRI involves transplanting young seedlings in rows, single per hill in wider spacing, providing enough room for the plants to grow fuller and larger. Composts or manures are applied to improve the soil biology.
Water is maintained only at moist condition with alternate wetting and drying the field. In addition, rotary weeding is done to aerate the soil to facilitate more oxygen into the soil, while cleaning the weeds more effectively.Because of vigorous plant growth, rice grown with SRI hardly requires any pest control activity. Moreover, plants are more resistant to any adverse condition, making SRI even as the most effective technology for climate change adaptation.