Africare News In Brief
Africare’s System of Rice Intensification Project (SRI) Wins InterAction Best Practice Award
WASHINGTON DC, May 23, 2011 - For the second year in a row, Africare was recognized by umbrella group InterAction's Best Practices Initiative (BPI). This year's Best Practice Award went to Africare Mali's System of Rice Intensification (SR) Project for its success in natural resources management and adaption to climate change.
With funding from USAID and in continuation of generous support provided by Jim Carrey's Better U Foundation, the Timbuktu Food Security Initiative (TFSI) is working with rural smallholder farmers to end the cycle of relief-based food aid distribution by building sustainable, resilient food security systems at the local level. Through a highly participatory approach, the project experimented with the construction of community-managed Village Irrigated Perimeters (VIPs) and the adoption of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). As integrated components of a larger holistic food insecurity intervention, VIPs and SRI empower smallholder farmers to identify local solutions to food production, access value-added market linkages, and eliminate household hunger. After 4 years of SRI implementation, the project has successfully resulted in:
- Tripling of average rice yields from 3mt/ha to 9mt/ha;
- Reduction in water requirements by up to 40%;
- Reduced reliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides; leading to
- Declines in input-associated costs (labor and capital investments reduced by about 23%);
- Significant increases in income generated per hectare (up to 68% gains per household unit).
Farmers have been consistently enthusiastic about the benefits of SRI and their enthusiasm has been contagious – spreading far and wide to surrounding communities. The many advantages of SRI include increased yields, reduced seed, less weeding, and stronger and faster plant development. In addition, smallholder beneficiaries have found that the application of organic matter reduced synthetic fertilizer use by 30%. Furthermore, the environmental benefits associated with SRI methodology (i.e., reduced water requirements, intensification of production on less land, stronger stem and root systems, diminished methane gas emissions, reduced nitrogen fertilizer use) mean that, even in the face of increasing climate variability, smallholder farmers are able to remain productive, secure, resilient, and self-reliant. Africare is currently working with local research institutions to field test new, improved rice varieties and build sustainable institutional capacity to adapt innovative technologies to the local context. Thus, the project provides an excellent example how community-led, diversified agricultural growth can also seamlessly manage soil and water resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their food and livelihood security needs.
The Lead Farmer Approach: Moussa Ag Demba
Moussa was born in 1960 in Bagadadji, district of Douékiré, Timbuktu Region, Republic of Mali. His family has traditionally relied on subsistence farming and has struggled daily to meet their basic needs. Africare helped Moussa’s village construct a Village Irrigated Perimeter and as the project progressed, he became one of the first farmers to utilize the System of Rice Intensification methodology. Today, Moussa harvests 11 tons of rice per hectare compared to 4-5 tons before the introduction of the SRI. Moussa now helps to organize and train his fellow farmers in SRI farming techniques. His enthusiasm is contagious and he has been elected President of Agricultural Cooperative Society of his village, President of the Union of 6 Agricultural Cooperatives in the Kessou area, and finally, President of the Federation of the Unions of the Co-operatives of the Goundam District.
See press release here.
Read more about the project here.