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Rice Paddies

Rice PaddiesSHI farmers cultivating rice paddies are able to produce eight times the rice than that of traditional slash-and-burn rice. An SHI Field Trainer will bring a few farmers together on a family’s farm to create a rice paddy system, usually 4 to 8 paddies. SHI will then provide the initial seeds for the rice cultivation and the farmer will learn the techniques to establish a healthy crop. The farmers that provided assistance in digging the original rice paddy system will return to their farms with their portion of seeds. They have the knowledge and skills to construct their own rice paddies without the need for a field trainer to accompany them. With the support of other surrounding farmers, they are each able to build a rice paddy system on their farm and enjoy the nutritional and economic benefits these paddies provide. This approach requires minimal initial resources of tools and seeds, but will provide enough rice throughout the year to make slash-and-burn rice cultivation a much less desirable option for the farmers.

Farmers can also integrate fish into their rice paddies to help with nutrient cycling. The fish eat the insects and weeds while fertilizing the crop. The farmers stagger the planting throughout the year so the fish move through the system as needed. Once the fish become too big for the rice paddies, they become a protein and income source for the family. These systems are conducive to the organic farming practices promoted by SHI and are a great way to make degraded land productive for generations to come. They also provide the farmer, often for the first time, with enough rice to feed her family year-round and sell in the local markets for additional income.

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Photos: Rice Paddies

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