Challenges and Coping Strategies in the Uptake of the System of Rice Intensification Practices in Oluch Irrigation Scheme, Homa-Bay County, Kenya
System of rice intensification (SRI) is a novel technological approach aimed at improving rice productivity using environmental-friendly and cost-effective agronomic practices. Although its utility has been demonstrated in several settings in sub-Saharan Africa, its implementation is still considerably low. This study explored the challenges faced and coping strategies used by Kenyan smallholder farmers who contribute substantially to domestic rice production, in the uptake of SRI practices in rural setting in the western part of the country where it was previously been introduced. The study involved a survey of 101 smallholder rice farmers in Oluch Irrigation Scheme in Homabay County, to understand the challenges and coping strategies to the uptake of the system of rice intensification practices. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis was done to guide in summarising the results using the SPSS package. The findings revealed that a host of challenges impede the acceptance of SRI in Oluch irrigation scheme, mainly insufficient knowledge, shortage and high costs of labour, weak stakeholder networks in the rice value chain; pests and diseases; and high cost of agricultural inputs to facilitate SRI. Notably, none of these challenges were overwhelmingly prevalent across majority of farmers, but that they were accosted by multiple complex and competing challenges limiting their opportunities for uptake of different SRI practices. It was observed that the nature and manifestation of these challenges necessitated the involvement of multiple actors in the rice value chain to address them. This formed the basis for a multi-stakeholder approach to address challenges that limited the implementation of new agricultural technologies, especially the utility of innovative approaches such as innovation platform to promote the uptake of SRI.
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