Near the small town of Tumbliband, Kandhamal District in Odisha, there is a small village of 26 households. The villagers belong to the Kandha tribe that forms the majority of the district’s population. They live in and of the forest. It is no surprise, then, that when the village chief, Sada Maji, returned from a training course on SRI, he was excited about trying it out on the village land.
His wife was horrified. “She took one look at the field,” says Sada, “and told me I was being ridiculous. We could hardly even see the rice seedlings after I’d transplanted them because they were so small and so wide apart.” Sada and his wife had a huge argument. She simply didn’t believe that this would work. She feared this enthusiastic experiment would see them going hungry for the year. Sada had to replant the field in the traditional method.
The following year, after they had had some time to discuss the issue, Sada and his wife agreed to try SRI on just part of their field. They haven’t looked back. And neither have the other villagers. “We have surplus rice now,” Sada smiles. “We have rice in the stores. We don’t sell it. But we don’t go hungry now.”