Using system of rice intensification practices to mitigate climate change effects on rice production in Western Kenya


The increasing impacts of climate change and the demand for food threaten the productive and
service capacity of agro-ecosystems. Consequently, adoption of irrigation alternatives that enhance
water use efficiency in crop production is vital. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) increases
crop water productivity through intermittent wetting and drying of rice paddies, under specific
soil and agronomic management practices. The main objective of this study was to determine the
level of adoption, replication and up-scaling of SRI practices among rice farmers in three western
Kenya irrigation schemes. The study used the Farmers Field Schools (FFS) strategy for extending
SRI practices to the farmers and optimizing crop water productivity using reduced inputs. Two FFS
sites were identified from among individual farmers’ fields in each of the three irrigation schemes
(Ahero, Bunyala and West Kano). Individual irrigation scheme farmers’ participation involved
Ahero (40), Bunyala (50) and West Kano (52), respectively. The results indicate a steady increase
of 18 percent of farmers from 120 farmers during the second year to 142 farmers by the end of
the third year of the project work. Comparison of SRI and conventional rice growing reveals that
the SRI strategy leads to higher grain yield through increase in numbers of effective tillers per hill
as opposed to the conventional system. Rice production costs under SRI when compared to the
conventional system are also much lower due to reduced amount of seedlings and its lower water
demands. The need for systematic promotion of SRI as an integrated approach is recommended.

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