WEST AFRICA: Is the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Pro Poor? Labour, Class and Technological Change in West Africa


SRI increases yield and profitability in West African rice farming, especially when locally adapted. Farmers adjust SRI to fit lowland rice farming, where water cannot be controlled and to address labour constraints. Additional labour for transplanting (instead of broadcasting) – coinciding with an existing labour bottleneck – constrains SRI adoption. SRI is mainly practised by marginal and accumulating farmers and to a lesser extent by medium farmers. Accumulating farmers invest in agriculture, farm profit-oriented and overcome labour constraints by hiring. Thus, they can practise SRI on larger scale and their absolute benefits are higher. Nevertheless, they rely on hired labour to do so, which strengthens workers’ bargaining position. Consequently, SRI benefits all: accumulating farmers who employ as well as marginal farmers and hired labourers. Contrary to findings from Asia, SRI seems to be relatively pro-poor in West Africa.