Summary of SRI in Zambia


The first System of Rice Intensification (SRI) trial in Zambia, and possibly the first in Southern Africa, was initiated in late 2005 by Henry Ngimbu, voluntary agricultural advisor to the Esek Farmers’ Cooperative Society. Their 12.5 x 12.5 meter plot yielded 96 kg of dried paddy (6.144 t/ha) in Solwezi, North-Western Province, an area where the average rice yield is 1-2 t/ha. Motivated by its members’ success, the cooperative hosted a National SRI Launch and First SRI Harvest in Solwezi on June 30, 2006, attending by 300 persons including the Permanent Secretary for the North-Western Province. The next year, the Esek Farmers’ Cooperative Society won second prize for its SRI work at the North-Western Province Agricultural, Commercial, Mining and Industrial Show. With a grant from the American Embassy, Henry subsequently trained farmers in other parts of Zambia, including Zambezi province.

In November 2009, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Zambia engaged Henry Ngimbu to train farmers in its COMACO program in the Eastern Province, where a major conservation and development effort is underway to conserve wildlife in the Lwanga protected area with farmers assisted to increase their agricultural production as an alternative to poaching (see COMACO video). WCS hired Henry as a full-time Rice Grower Specialist starting in June 2010 to expand upon the training that he did for COMACO farmers the previous year. He also undertook several trainings in Musele ADP on behalf of World Vision during 2010.

In early 2010, a new NGO which Ngimbu created, Centre for SRI Initiative (CSRII), was given legal recognition by the government. In February 2011, CSRII received funding from the American Embassy to train 300 farmers in the Zambezi District of the Northwestern Province in SRI methods (see final report). At the same time, COMACO’s Value Chain Program, organized an official SRI launch in Chinsali district of the Northern Province which symbolized the Zambian Government’s support for SRI farming practices in Zambia. During January 2013, the System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII) was founded. Later that year, SCII sent Henry Ngimbu to Cameroon to help get SRI established in that country.

During 2019, the COMACO Program reported that it has promoted the SRI to over 35,000 rice farmers, helped Zambia move toward self-sufficiency in rice, and is making plans to export rice in the future.

Progress and Activities

2019 Update
  • arrowCOMACO Promotes SRI to Over 35,000 Rice Farmers[March 11, 2019] As of 2019, COMACO has reportedly extended the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to over 35,000 rice farmers in Zambia. COMACO believes that SRI methods have the potential of increasing rice yields is 3-4 fold and also allows farmers to achieve this increased production without having to use any chemicals. According to the it recent newsletter, COMACO’s SRI promotion is making Zambia more self-sufficient in rice. COMACO is making plans to export rice in the near future and acknowledges S3P (Ministry of Agriculture) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy for their help in supporting this initiative.
  • arrowCSRII Obtains Rice Milling Equipment from US Embassy to Improve Market Access for SRI Rice[June 1, 2015] Henry Ngimbu reported that the US Embassy has continued to recognize successful SRI efforts taking place in Zambia by providing funds to the Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative (CSRII) to purchase rice milling equipment. The rice mill is intended to improve market access for rice grown with SRI methods by small scale farmers in rural communities. Many of the farmers associated with the rice mill are the same ones who began practicing SRI farming in Zambia as early as 2006 with technical assistance from Norman Uphoff’s original SRI program at Cornell University. Henry and others from CSRII attended a signing ceremony at the US embassy in Lusaka on June 1. Olivia Vent, Lotus Foods SRI consultant, and Craig Zarnosky, Peace corps in Solwezi, Zambia, provided additional input for the proposal. (See announcement in the Zambia Daily Mail.)
  • arrowSRI-Rice Director of Programs Assists COMACO in Zambia[May 15, 2014] Erika Styger traveled to Zambia April 15 – May 1, 2014, to work with the NGO Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) on a rice production systems diagnostic in the northern and eastern regions of Zambia. The report indicates that SRI be improved and expanded in the COMACO area. Styger also assisted in the design of a four-year SRI project funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Henry Ngimbu, who has worked with SRI-Rice on projects in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa, joined the group.
  • arrow SRI Expertise from Zambia Helps Put Cameroon on the Global SRI Map[February, 2014] With the assistance from Zambia’s System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII), Cameroon became one of the first countries in Central Africa to adopt SRI. An initiative by the British NGO Skills for Development brought Henry Ngimbu from Zambia as an SRI trainer/monitor/evaluator for three short-term assignments during the 2013. Cameroon’s first-year demonstration trials, which were managed Henry Ngimbu in Cameroonby three women’s clubs in Ndop, Cameroon, had yields ranging from 4.0 tons/ha to 12.8 tons/ha (average 8.2 tons/ha) as opposed to their previous paddy yields of 3-4 tons/ha; only 6% of the members had previously ever achieved yields more than 5 tons/ha. Henry is shown at right (in blue shirt) attending the inaugural ceremony to launch SRI in Cameroon that was held December 5, at Njama-Njama Park in Ndop farms, Cameroon. (See report for more information).
  • arrow System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII) has New Chairman[March 21, 2013] Dr. Kaumba Godfrey Chinyama was selected as the new chairman for Zambia’s System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII), which was founded in January 2013. Dr. Chinyama has a PhD in Physics and over twenty years experience as a university lecturer and researcher at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia. He is currently Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Physics in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia. His experience will help SCII to realize its vision to make better use of SRI research outcomes for the benefit of resource-limited people in Zambia and other nations.
  • arrow New System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII) Extends SRI Principles to Other Crops in Zambia[January 2013] Based on the success of using SRI methods for rice production through the Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative (CSRII) that was founded in 2010, a new organization that has been formed in Zambia to extend SRI principles to other crops. The System of Crop Intensification Institute (SCII), which is being launched by Henry Ngimbu, will focus on rice as well as sunflower, soybean, jatropha, maize, sesame, tomatoes, and castor. (See announcement.)
  • arrow The Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative (CSRII) Makes Progress on U.S. Embassy Grant in Northwestern ProvinceSRI training in West Bank, Zambezi district 2012The Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative (CSRII), which was founded in 2010 by Henry Ngimbu, was awarded funds from the United States Embassy in Zambia to carry out several workshops in the Zambezi District in the Northwestern Province. Through the U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program in Zambia approximately 300 farmers, 200 of which were women, were trained in SRI methods at the workshops between May and August, 2011. The trainings, which involved 12 farmer groups from 6 catchment areas, also introduced farmers to additional implements such as the rotary weeder and the planting distance marker (see progress report for details). During April 2012, Ngimbu forwarded a PowerPoint presentation from a mid-term report about activities in the West Bank of the Zambezi district (at right). The project will conclude in August 2012.
  • arrow Official SRI Launch and Field Days in Chinsali District in the Northern ProvinceFollowing successful rice establishment of the 2010-2011 SRI paddies in the Chinsali district, M. Chitambi at SRI Launch in Chinsalithe Rice Value Chain Program, a sub-sector of COMACO programs based there, organized an official launch for the SRI. On February 17, 2011, Mr. Miximo Chitambi, Chinsali District Commissioner in the Office of the President and guest of honor, cut the ribbon at the the Mumbi farm (photo at right – click to enlarge). The occasion symbolized the Zambian Government’s support for SRI farming practices in Zambia. (See WCS/COMACO report.)

    On February 17-19, mid-season SRI Field Days were conducted in several parts of Chinsali district in conjunction with the official SRI launch. The significance was seen in tillers where SRI had average of 30 tillers at 42 days from transplanting, while only an average of 3 tillers in 62 days from broadcasting. Farmers were amazed to see Mr. Chilufya’s SRI farm which produced an average of 70 tillers about 60 days from transplanting.

    In addition to helping to acquire seed and to mill and market rice, a major thrust of the SRI strategy had been to develop and make available more location-specific technologies. Farmers have developed and modified various tools on almost all the SRI farms. The Field Days provided an opportunity to participants to observe simple but effective farm tools, such as weeders and farm markers developed for providing precision spacing between hills for planting seedlings shown below.

    Marker in Chinsali, Zambia Marker in Chinsali, Zambia Weeder in Chansali, Zambia SRI tool in Chansali, Zambia
      Marker for spacing transplants   Another view of the marker   Implement for weeding   Tool to prepare fields

    As better results are being observed using compost in the project area, SRI farmers also learned more about this type of input, which both adds nutrients to the soil slowly and improves soil structure. Compost composition includes biomass (e.g. rice straw, plant trimmings and other plant material) with some animal manure added if available. Biomass suggestions included, among others, banana leaves, which can add more potassium, cuttings from leguminous shrubs to add nitrogen, and other plants such as tithonia and Afromomum angustifolium, which are thought to increase phosphorus availability. (See WCS/COMACO report for more information.)

  • arrow World Vision Sponsors Farmer-Field School SRI Workshops in Musele ADPSeveral World Vision training workshops on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Best Practices and Group Work Dynamics were undertaken using the Farmer-Field School (FFS) approach on November 1-5, 2010, in Musele ADP, Zambia. The purpose of the workshops was for participants to  acquire skills in SRI-based farming practices, to develop strategic plans for improved productivity in their paddy rice crop, and to develop good group dynamics. World Vision will continue to work with farmers who want to use SRI to improve rice productivity and to develop sustainable livelihoods.

    Kisasa SRI training group Nov. 2010In the Musangeji rice farming block, about 100 participants, primarily women, from different villages were trained during the 2-3 November training. In addition to limited market opportunities, low yields are associated with present practices, in which paddy seed is broadcast, with no seed selection, water control or weeding. On November 1, training at Kisasa Zone farming block (see photo at right) was provided to two groups of 15 members each. The third training was held at Kanzala Fish Farming Cooperative Society situated near the boundary between Solwezi and Mwinilunga districts. Twelve of the thirteen cooperative society members participated in the November 4-5 SRI training workshop. The members, who have constructed over twenty fish ponds at Kanzala area, decided to take the opportunity to harness the water flowing out of the ponds for use in irrigated rice farming.

  • arrowCOMACO Expands SRI ExtensionThe Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Zambia has hired Henry Ngimbu as a full-time Rice COMACO training in Mufuwe 2009Grower Specialist starting in June 2010, to expand upon the training he did for WCS in Mfuwe in November 2009. (Seedbed construction carried out at the training is shown at right. Click on the photo to see additional photos).

    COMACO stands for Community Marketers for Conservation, an initiative which has now 30,000 members, farmers who pledge to give up poaching in the wildlife-rich Lwanga reserve, a huge area about 60 x 450 miles in extent. The program and its successes are described in a video produced by the National Geographic Society.

    Henry pioneered SRI in Zambia in the North-Western Province working with a farmers’ cooperative in Solwezi in 2005-06 to test and demonstrate methods. Henry expanded his SRI work into Zambezi Province in 2006-07.

  • arrow Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative Established in ZambiaOn February 1, 2010, Henry Ngimbu received the certificate of incorporation from the Government of Zambia for a new NGO to promote SRI knowledge and use. The Centre for System of Rice Intensification Initiative (CSRII) now has a mandate to commerce operations in this country.
For 2005-2007, see Zambia archives

Reports and Articles

PowerPoint Presentations

(NotesClick here to see most of the below SRI Zambia presentations on Transcripts are at the bottom of each presentation. There is a “full screen” button at the lower right corner of the presentation to enlarge the presentation. If you have trouble viewing the slideshow, make sure you have a current version of Flash installed and JavaScript enabled.)

Practical Information

Photo Collection