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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Liberian Rice Company Closing Gap On Imported Rice

Monrovia – A Liberian entrepreneur, Reverend Robert Bimba, has stressed the need for Liberians to start feeding themselves with homemade rice.

Reverend Bimba, who is the head of the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP), says the group is currently cultivating rice to supply the Liberian market.

CHAP has implemented several projects for the Ministry of Agriculture, West Africa Productivity Program WAAPP/World Bank, WHH, and UNFAO.

CHAP also has the following priority areas, Livelihood and Agriculture, Health & Hygiene, Education, Community Mobilization, SRI Program, capacity building training, Village Savings and Loan Program, and Value Chain among others.

Bimba said “for too long Liberians have lived on imported products including rice to survive”.

He told FrontPage Africa that CHAP is using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) for dry season farming as a climate smart innovation with less water, “Rice plant can do better with less water,” he said.

He also disclosed that CHAP has profound expertise in the Liberian rice sector, saying, it is the focal point organization on SRI in Liberia with support from IFAD, the World Bank, CNS-Riz (Mali), SRI-Rice (Cornell University, USA), and Abide in the Vine Fellowship Owego, NY, USA.

Rev. Bimba said US$2 is million spent per annum on subsidizing projects and the US$200 million spent on the importation of rice can be invested in the rice sector.

He noted that when more funding is infused into the agriculture sector, it will provide job opportunities for young people in the country.

He, however, disclosed that CHAP currently has milling machines with a capacity of producing a minimum of 8 metric tons a day.

Bimba disclosed that CHAP in collaboration with other partners and has begun developing a roadmap for the supply of Liberian rice to the local market.

“If we put our time and focus on eating our own rice and work towards promoting it, we will all start to feed ourselves from our own soul,” he said.

“There are people who want to always see your downfall in the job we do for our partners, but they are all detractors and we will not pay attention to them because this project is also geared towards the production of more food and to reduce hunger in the country.”

He called on all Liberians to join CHAP for the fight against hunger.

“Join us in our big bumper SRI harvest. Rush and buy your own Liberian milled rice now US$20 /25kg white rice and US$30/25kg red rice, let support each other and stop tearing each other,” he noted.

This story is courtesy of Front Page Africa. For more information: company-closing-gap-on-imported-rice/