System of Rice Intensification (SRI) versus farmer practice — A comparative evaluation in the Timbuktu region of Mali


The Goundam and Dire circles in the Timbuktu region are among the most food-insecure areas in Mali (CSA,
2005). Due to the very low annual rainfall (150–200 mm), recessional agriculture is practised along river
branches, ponds, and lakes seasonally flooded by the Niger River. The intensity of the flooding determines the
amount of land under agriculture, which is highly variable from year to year. Yield levels in this cultivation
system are low, with deep-water rice producing, on average, 750 kg/ha, and sorghum 600–900 kg/ha (DRA
Tombouctou, 2007).
The NGO Africare has worked with local farmers to build village-based small-scale irrigation schemes of
30–35 ha each that can be irrigated by one diesel motor pump. With these irrigation systems, farmers can have
full water control and can achieve higher and more reliable yields compared to the traditional recessional
agriculture. As 80–100 farmers share the land under irrigation in such schemes, the average irrigated crop area
available per household is only about one-third of a hectare (0.83 acre). Getting maximum yield from these
small landholdings is essential for reducing poverty in the area. These irrigation schemes have become an
important support for improving the food-security situation of the region. With high land and water availability
in this region, there is much potential and scope for improving production and extending the surface areas.



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