The System of Rice Intensification as a Social-technical System

KTI Group members Harro Maat and Dominic Glover are involved in ongoing research on the emergence and spread of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
SRI is a method of rice cultivation that was developed in Madagascar in the 1980s and 1990s. Since about 2000, the system has spread to other rice-producing countries. SRI is claimed to be more productive and more sustainable than conventional rice cultivation methods, but these claims have been questioned or dismissed by some rice scientists.

The spread of SRI could therefore be seen as surprising, since efforts to promote scientifically validated technologies and recommended practices often have limited impacts on farmers’ behaviour. SRI seems to be spreading in spite of the lack of consensus among rice scientists.

Our work on SRI seeks to understand the social processes, institutional mechanisms and economic factors, as well as the technical considerations, that have led to SRI’s apparent success in social, institutional and technical terms. This research thus aims to generate new insights into processes of grassroots innovation and technical change in developing-country agriculture, leading to lessons for agricultural policy, scientific research and extension practice.

These projects involve collaborations with colleagues from other parts of Wageningen University & Research Centre, including Plant Research International and the social science chair groups Development Economics (DEC) and Communication and Innovation Studies (CIS), as well as colleagues from India.


  • The Evolution of the System of Rice Intensification as a Socio-technical Phenomenon (2009-2011)
    Project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    This short project involved a desk-based review of scientific literature and other materials to clarify the state of knowledge on SRI and identify issues for further investigation. The project incorporated short visits to Madagascar and the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where we met scientists, extension workers, NGO representatives and farmers to ensure that our observations were connected to ground-level perceptions and concerns.

    The final report from this project was presented to the Gates Foundation in April 2011. A seminar, discussing the findings of the report, was held in Wageningen on 25 May 2011.

    More information
    The Evolution of SRI as a Socio-Technical Phenomenon

  • The System of Rice Intensification as a Socio-economic and Technical Movement in India (2010-2014)
    Project funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research, Science for Tropical Agriculture programme (NWO-WOTRO).

    This project involves four Indian PhD candidates and two post-doctoral researchers based in Wageningen. It is a collaborative effort between the KTI group, the Development Economics Group (WUR), and the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (Odisha, India).


Publications produced under this programme include the following: