CHAP Helps Reduce Spread of COVID-19 among Liberian Farmers using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Principles Robert Bimba, Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP)


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 global health crisis is also affecting food security across Liberia and
throughout Africa, CHAP has initiated ways of keeping the out-grower scheme farmers under the “Rice
Investment for Empowerment” (RISE) program growing food during this crisis period in support of the
Government of Liberia’s C-19 Food Security Plan through the Ministry of Agriculture, calling on everyone
to grow more food during the lockdown. The farmers supported by CHAP, who are located in Nimba,

Grand Gedeh, Cape Mount, Montserrado, Lofa, Bong, and Bomi counties, were already engaged since last year in raising rice production and were at different levels with their improved farming activities at the onset of the health crisis.

CHAP is promoting the principles of the System of
Rice Intensification (SRI) for growing more rice
under the current health crisis as it did during the
Ebola crisis in 2014-2015 under the regional SRI-
WAAPP program. CHAP is continuing supporting
farmers in Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and
Montserrado counties.

The principles of SRI are:

  • Plant just a single plant per hill 
  • Transplant young seedlings @ 2-leaf stage
  • Adopt wide spacing – planting seedlings in
    a grid pattern
  • Alternative wetting and drying (AWD
  • Use mechanical or manual weeders that
    aerate the soil as they remove weeds
  • Use organic soil amendments as base



Many of the SRI farmers under this scheme are actively farming
now, and our Farmers Advisory Service (FAS) is supporting our
team in the field. Several farmers are currently harvesting in
Lofa, and Bong, while others are in different stages: scaring
birds, doing land preparation, caring for the nursery,
transplanting, overseeing farm management, and marketing
An interesting development is that many farmers have come to
see the SRI principles as similar to the COVID 19 awareness
messages as shown in the table below.



SRI Principles as They Relate to COVID-19 Prevention Measures:

COVID 19 Awareness SRI Principle
1 Social distancing  

Wider spacing of plants (25cm

x 25cm) than before

2 Frequent handwashing to reduce the spread of the
Alternative wetting and drying
of the rice field to enhance
plant growth


3 Timely report of all cases for isolation and treatment Quick and timely action;
transplant seedlings very
quickly after they are uprooted
from the nursery


4 Observe any exposed person for 14 days Transplant your seedlings
when they are 8-14 days old
5 Avoid crowded places Transplant just one plant per


6 No touching and hand shaking No touching of plants during
flowering or pollination period


7 Keep yourself healthy by eating nutritious food Improve soil health with more
organic matter, and eat the
organic rice that you grow


CHAP has also engaged the Ministry of Agriculture to make use of one of the four industrial rice mills
in the southeast of Liberia that are financed by African Development Bank under the Smallholder
Agriculture Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization Project (SAPEC). These are intended for
use with ongoing programs of MOA and require collective efforts of all actors in the sector to operate
efficiently. If proposal is approved, this will boost rice production in the Southeast, using SRI methods
to increase yields and double the crop cycle to grow rice twice a year.

Figure 2 SRI Nursery in Bomi

In an effort to ensure that what farmers produce is bought at a fair
price in a timely manner, CHAP under the I Love Liberian Rice
initiative has introduced the Farmers RISEpaymentApp to promote
farmers’ use of the better technology. Training will commence in two
weeks with registration of the first 10,000 farmers across the RISE
investment counties along with Lonestar MTN. This will enhance
timely service delivery for inputs and payment for our farmers.

To make the opportunities of SRI more widely available within
Liberia, the above efforts should make farming a more profitable
business for smallholder farmers. This investment initiative is aligned
with the Government of Liberia’s “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity
and Development (PPAPD).” The System of Rice Intensification
(SRI) is being promoted as an agroecological methodology that is an
excellent example of Climate-Smart Agriculture.