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Proponents of the 'system of rice intensification' (SRI) proclaim miraculous rice yields, while opponents have dismissed the system as being unscientific (see Can 'rice intensification' feed the world?). But researchers in India and the Netherlands argue that evidence exists to explain the increases.

Highlighting the role of water management and weed control, the researchers, in two letters to Nature, say that improved yields are "not a miracle". A. Satyanarayana has successfully — and cheaply — implemented SRI in India, and urges the scientific community to take a closer look at the reasons for increased productivity.

In a separate letter, Huib Hengsdijk and Prem Bindraban point out that location is everything. They say that SRI has the potential to help reduce hunger and poverty, as one of a range of management practices. But they stress the importance of selecting from such practices according to location-specific conditions.

Reference: Nature 429, 803 (2004)

Link to full letter by A. Satyanarayana in Nature

Link to full letter by Huib Hengsdijk and Prem Bindraban in Nature