The wintering is in the process of settling in the country. In places, significant amounts of rainfall are recorded, which augurs an early start of the rainy season. Ten days ago, the capital Bamako was abundantly watered and the runoff caused significant material damage and loss of life. This situation corroborates Mali-Météo’s seasonal forecasts, which predicted this year rainfall variability. Also, the May-June-July period will be close to normal in the whole country, except for the northern parts of Kayes, Koulikoro, where it will be in deficit with normal tendency.

The irrigated perimeter of Baguinéda is part of the Koulikoro region. On the lands of the Baguinéda irrigated perimeter office (OPIB), the peasants (for those who have committed themselves) are busy completing their off-season rice crops. The off-season campaign is in full swing. The crops are heading-maturation, according to the general observation made by our team that went last Thursday on the perimeter to see the status of activities. “The 2019-2020 crop year promises to be promising and the Baguinéda Irrigation Area Office (OPIB) is already ready,” Interim Director Mamadou Togola said during his visit to the rice fields.
OPIB’s main objective is to improve and secure agricultural production. It is within this framework that several activities are carried out by the structure to improve the yield of agricultural producers in the area. During the winter season, production activities focused on cereals and legumes (groundnuts and cowpeas) and during the off-season, producers are mainly interested in market gardening with an average of 1600 hectares of area all speculations combined. .
The fields visited sufficiently testify to the efficiency of the methods used during the off-season in the OPIB area. In the field of Dramane Diallo and many others, the cultivation method used is the intensive rice farming system (IRS). According to the interim director, this system boosts production, increases production and saves water. It is used by producers only during the dry season. It has already produced results at the level of desire. The owners of the fields using this system have shown their satisfaction and the observation shows the success. According to Dramane Diallo, this system allowed him to make two off-season campaigns with a good return. He first produced maize in the first place before sowing the rice on the same plot before wintering. He plans to harvest quickly before preparing the plot on a larger area this time for the winter season that starts. If the first field awaits the final maturation to be harvested, this is no longer the case in one of its neighbors. Indeed, a few steps away, at the Nouhoum Kanté plot, it was time to thresh the rice harvested on an area of ​​0.37 hectare.
The intensive rice cultivation system (IRS) has been very successful thanks to the commitment of the leaders of the OPIB. Adama Daou, head of the agricultural sector advisory and promotion division, also pointed out that, thanks to the SRI, off-season producers are able to increase their yield. Moreover, at OPIB, a cooperative called “SRI Waati sera” was created to promote this system that improves productivity. Regarding the 2019-2020 crop year, it intervenes in a context of safeguarding achievements, the pursuit of actions, strengthening the capacity of management, the intensification of the main crops in the perimeter. The target for this 2019-2020 crop year is to eventually produce 25,153 tons of cereals, of which 18,341 tons of paddy rice, 6.

Integrating Mechanical Weeding and Planting for Reduced Labour Input in Paddy Rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

The most notable [SRI benefits] are savings on water use and increase in yield. Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) has also paved way for mechanical weed control in paddy fields. One of the major constraints to adoption of SRI is the perceived increased labour input due to the careful transplanting and frequent weed control. This paper evaluates the effect of mechanization on labour input in SRI in comparison to the less mechanized farmer practice. In attempt to reduce drudgery in transplanting under SRI, the drum seeder was used to establish the rice crop by direct seeding. This was then followed by using SRI practices i.e. AWD and mechanical weeding. Direct seeding using a drum seeder was compared to transplanting in both SRI and the common farmer practice. Hand weeding was also evaluated and compared to mechanical weeding. Labour input cost was also compared to the income accrued from the yields. From the study, it was noted that direct seeding using the drum seeder reduced labour input by 97% compared to transplanting. This was possible in that in direct seeding, and there was no nursery preparation and management as in transplanting. The use of a mechanical weeder reduced labour input by 28.3% in relation to hand weeding. Labour input cost for SRI was cheaper (Kshs. 124,080 per hectare) compared to the common farmer practice (Kshs. 139,117.50 per hectare). There was more yield from the SRI practice (2.75 Ton/ha) compared to the common farmer practice (1.88 Ton/ha).

Integrating Mechanical Weeding and Planting for Reduced Labour Input in Paddy Rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

Report Reveals Groundbreaking Results for Rice Farming

A new report from the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAFdescribes the results from “the largest System of Rice Intensification (SRI) project ever undertaken in the world,” according to technical lead for regional coordination Dr. Erika Styger. It reveals higher yields for rice farmers in West Africa using SRI. SRI is an adaptable rice farming methodology for reducing the need for inputs, including agrochemicals, while increasing yields.

Rice is an important crop in West and Central Africa—most of the 430 million peopleliving in the region depend on it as a staple—but West Africa currently consumes more than it produces and has been importing rice from other parts of the world, such as Asia. A regional offensive initiated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aims to change this by increasing regional rice production.

Organizations and farmers are working toward this goal through initiatives such as the “Improving and Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa” project (SRI-WAAPP). This three-year project involved more than 50,000 rice farmers, more than 1,000 sites, and 13 West African countries. It was coordinated by the National Center of Specialization on Rice in Mali along with Cornell University through the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP)—a program of CORAF. The project is “one of the most successful in the CORAF portfolio,” says CORAF’s Executive Director Dr. Abdou Tenkouano. “This SRI project has been groundbreaking in its participatory design and implementation.” “The involvement of the rice stakeholders in the 13 countries since the design of the project was the key factor of success during its implementation,” Dr. Gaoussou Traoré, the project’s regional coordinator, tells Food Tank when asked about this participatory design.

According to the report, use of SRI shows promise for helping rice farmers meet the growing demand in the region. In fact, authors Styger and Traoré write that complete adoption of this method in 2017 would have eliminated the need for rice imports. They also estimate that just in the 2015-2016 growing season, use of SRI produced more than an additional 20,000 tons of milled rice at the project sites, valued at about US$10 million.

The report details yields for farmers using SRI compared with farms using conventional growing practices. An independent evaluation in five countries found that yields increased by 54 percent, 65 percent, and 153 percent for irrigated, rainfed lowland, and rainfed upland systems, respectively. It also found a 41 percent average increase in farmers’ incomes. The project team’s assessment of overall results found even higher yield increases for irrigated and rainfed lowland systems, at 56 percent and 86 percent, respectively. Given these findings, the authors advocate for further scale-up of SRI in the region: “If SRI is to make a real contribution to rice self-sufficiency in West Africa, many more farmers must adopt it.”

However, “successful expansion of SRI will depend on adapting SRI practices to local environments,” say Styger and Traoré. Because SRI is an approach based on a set of principles—rather than a static technology—it is adaptable to farmers’ diverse circumstances, such as irrigated or rainfed systems and different ecological characteristics. “The practices, of course, should always be adapted to suit local conditions,” says Norman Uphoff, Senior Advisor for the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) program at Cornell University. “We see SRI more as a menu than as a recipe.” Dr. Traoré explains that participants of the SRI-WAAPP project used a conceptual framework based on four defining and unchanging principles—“the backbone of SRI”—while agreeing that “the rice production practices or techniques used to implement the four principles may vary and need to be adapted to local agro-socio-economic conditions.”

Though SRI is far from full adoption, the methodology has been spreading around the world and is used in more than 50 countries. Consequently, SRI is used in a wide variety of socioeconomic contexts and can look different between communities and between farms. For example, in some cases where SRI decreases labor requirements, people have raised concerns that its economic benefits will not extend to groups like landless farm laborers. On the other hand, sometimes SRI intensifies labor requirements, particularly while farmers become familiar with it and learn what practices work best for their farms.

CORAF’s Regional Gender and Social Development Adviser Dr. Mariame Maiga worries that SRI’s labor intensity could place additional burdens on women who already have significant responsibilities in addition to agricultural work, including cooking, obtaining water, and caring for children. “Women have to work very hard with SRI to produce rice,” she tells Food Tank. Dr. Maiga recommends that steps be taken to prevent SRI adoption from overburdening women and exacerbating gender disparities. In response, the team adopted a labor-saving weeding technology from India to help make SRI more convenient.

This is just one example of how projects can adjust their SRI implementation, and farmers and organizations all over the world have been finding new ways to adapt SRI. Because the SRI-WAAPP project was so large, the team was able to foster cross-border collaboration: “The regional nature of this project made it possible to connect researchers, extension staff, and farmers working under similar conditions across West Africa and help them to identify and share innovations,” say the report’s authors. “This enabled faster dissemination, adaptation, and adoption of SRI to different rice production systems, ultimately leading to better results.”

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