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Re: Dryland Rice Farming WAS Madame, I'm Adam, not...

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Dryland Rice Farming WAS Madame, I'm Adam, not...
  • From: Keith Addison keith@journeytoforever.org
  • Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 13:35:55 +0900

> That piece from Japan on how to grow rice without flooding the field with
> water was fascinating. Never grew rice. Do any of the pros on this list
> if that method of rice cultivation would work in the US of A?

Yes, dryland rice(it might be irrigated, but not flooded) is grown in a
number of states in the US.  It's been grown at least as far back as Thomas
Jefferson's time when he imported dryland rice from a couple of different
countries to the US for experimentation.  He also risked his life to smuggle
some Italian rice seeds, but that's another story.

One other bit of rice info that people interested in food security might
find interesting is that traditionally there are weeds that grow in rice
fields that are valued as edible greens with lots of essential vitamins.
These are weeded/harvested and eaten.

In the demented modern system these weeds/greens are poisoned with the
result that the rice growers and their children are suffering from
malnutrition, blindness, etc. from lack of vitamins with the greens missing
from their diets.  So an expensive patented genetically engineered yellow
variety has been created to sell to rice farmers to "solve" this problem.
There is some concern that the vitamin levels of the genetically engineered
rice in conjunction with the large quanties of rice eaten may cause
overdosing of some of the vitamins, but I don't know the current state of
research on that.

That's quite right about the edible "weeds".

This is an excellent piece on so-called "golden rice", from GRAIN's "Seedling":
Seedling - March 2000
Engineering Solutions To Malnutrition

From Greenpeace: "Greenpeace says its calculations show that an adult would have to eat at least 3.7 kilos of dry weight rice - about nine kilos of cooked rice - to satisfy his or her daily need of vitamin A from "Golden Rice." A normal daily intake of 300 gram of rice would provide about eight percent percent of the vitamin A needed per day, Greenpeace charges. A breast feeding woman would have to eat at least 6.3 kilos in dry weight, or almost 18 kilos of cooked rice per day."

Another matter is fish.

"Traditionally, rice was grown in conjunction with fish, which were raised in the flooded field. The fish eat insects harmful to the rice plant, help to fertilise the system, and provide an important source of animal protein and income for rural people. Frogs, shellfish, crabs and other aquatic animals play a similar role, and are now recognised as important elements in both rural diets and in integrated pest management..."
-- Pade and Sawah: Rice in Indonesia The Wet Rice Field Ecosystem

I had an argument with IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) scientists about this in 1983, but they just sneered at both me and the fish - they said the extra yields from the HYV (?) "Green Revolution" rice (highly chemicalized and industrialized, nutritionally inferior) more than made up for the loss of the fish, which amounted to a pathetically low protein yield anyway.

"From a human perspective, the system is poly-cultural, not mono-cultural, and humans enter the rice field food 'chain' at many points. The simplification of this system associated with the technology of the Green Revolution remains a major cause for concern, and research at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and also at research centres in Indonesia is trying to revive some of the key advantages of stability and diversity inherent in the traditional system."

Something else IRRI et al was being told 20 years ago, and sneered at.

Ho hum. "Of course we know now..." Sigh.

Adam, I can't see any reason that the SRI system couldn't be used for rice in the US as much as anywhere else. It's best for small-scale, local farms - but then what isn't? If the agribiz types can't adapt their machinery and chemicals to the system that shouldn't mean it's a no-no but a yes-yes.


Keith Addison
Journey to Forever
Handmade Projects
Osaka, Japan

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