Impact of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Practices on Cropping System Resilience to Fluctuating Climate Conditions in Timbuktu Region, Northern Mali, West Africa


Cereal production covers only 4.5 months of annual household
consumption in the Timbuktu region, at the edge of the Sahara
desert. Along the Niger River and its seasonally‐flooded arms,
small‐scale, village‐b d ase i i ti rr gation schemes, 30‐35 h t ec ares in size,
have become important for food security. Irrigation using diesel
motor pumps is costly. Cropping area per households is only 0.3
hectares, driving farmers to increase rice productivity. Since 2007,
the NGO Africare and the Regional Government Agriculture Service
have worked with communities to adapt the System of Rice
Intensification (SRI) to local conditions. In 2007, one farmer
achieved a 9t/ha SRI yield compared to 6.7 t/ha in his control plot
(Africare, 2008). In 2008, 60 farmers from 12 villages averaged a
9.1t/ha SRI yield compared to 4.9 t/ha in their surrounding fields
(86% increase) (Styger, 2009).
Water availability for irrigation depends on the rise and recession of
the Niger River, which is determined by the date the rainy season
Yield and Yield parameters
Average paddy yield for 130 SRI farmers was 7.71 t/ha
compared to their conventionally grown fields with 4 48
Table 1: Rice yield (t/ha) and yield parameters for SRI and
farmer practice plots (n=130, adjusted to 14% grain moisture)
SRI practices combine the transplanting of single seedlings at the 2‐leaf stage (1), with wide spacing (25cmx25cm) and planted in line
(2), alternate wetting and drying irrigation (2), the use of a cono‐weeder instead of hand weeding (3), and the application of organic
manure during soil preparation (not shown). Last picture shows SRI field at harvest (4)
begins and by amount of rain in the watershed. In 2009, when 270
farmers from 28 villages practiced SRI, flooding was delayed by
more than one month compared to 2008. Villages that are located
at a greater distance from the Niger River need to wait longer for
the water to arrive. This creates a natural gradient for when the
cropping season will begin (see satellite photo). This poster looks at
crop performance and productivity in relation to crop‐season timing
under SRI and current practic