Willem Stoop began investigating the advantages of introducing SRI into Mali and other West African countries in 1999 while working at West African Rice Development Association (now the African Rice Center). Although Norman Uphoff had discussions with World Vision/Mali and the government’s Institute for Economic Research (IER) on setting up SRI trials in Mali in 2003, substantial progress with SRI began only in 2007 when Africare, an NGO working on agricultural and rural development, initiated SRI demonstration trials in the Timbuktu region. The experiments were managed by farmers in the Goundam district with technical assistance from Erika Styger, who learned about SRI while doing her PhD thesis research in Madagascar with CIIFAD.

During the 2007/2008 cropping season, Africare undertook a first demonstration of SRI in two villages. The yield increase using SRI was remarkable: 8.98 tons/hectare, 34% more than the best use of farmers’ rice planting methods (see report). The evaluation was expanded during the 2008/2009 season with support from the Better U Foundation. Average SRI yield of 53 farmers in 12 villages reached 9.1 t/ha. On average SRI yields were 66% higher compared to the control plots with 5.49 t/ha and 87% higher compared to the surrounding rice fields with 4.86 t/ha (see report). During 2010, participation of volunteer farmers in Africare’s SRI projects increased to 270 farmers in 28 villages with an average yield of 7.71 t/ha compared to 4.48 t/ha in farmers’ usual practice fields (a 72% yield increase). An irrigation test showed that under SRI practices, water savings can be expected to be at least 32%.

Africare also began working to adapt SRI principles to wheat during 2009. The “System of Wheat Intensification” (SWI) showed potential for significantly increasing yields levels, by developing better direct-seeding techniques, reduce the spacing between plants, and by targeting the optimal planting time (see report).

During the 2009/2010 season, USAID’s Integrated Initiatives for Economic Growth in Mali (IICEM) project introduced SRI methods into irrigated areas of Gao, Mopti, and Timbuktu (not already reached by Africare) as well as rainfed rice systems in the Sikasso region, with consistent yield increases and reduction in chemical fertilizer use by farmers (see report). During May 2011, InterAction, a Washington D.C.-based alliance of NGOs, awarded Africare the Best Practice Award for Natural Resources Management and Adaptation to Climate Change for its SRI work in the Timbuktu Region. Also during 2011, Kokou Zotoglo, the rice value chain leader for USAID/West Africa’s Expanded Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (USAID E-ATP) program, and Djiguiba Koyaté, his counterpart at USAID/Mali’s Integrated Initiatives for Economic Growth in Mali (USAID IICEM), were given the “Tiwara” (“Lion of Work” in Bambara) award from government and civil society leaders in the Circle of San in the Ségou region for their work promoting SRI.

On November 14-18, 2011, a sub-regional SRI training workshop was organized by Africare Mali in Goundam (in Mali’s Timbuktu Region) with participants from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. During 2012-2013, a project carried out by the local NGO 3A-Sahel in conjunction with SRI Global and SRI-Rice at Cornell allowed 70 farmers in 7 villages to realize increases of 4.3 to 8 tons per hectare in spite of Mali’s civil war during that year. Two additional phases followed in 2013and 2014 that allowed additional scaling up to new villages and continuing support for the original villages. The final report notes that average yield increase of 63.36% over the usual farmer practice; 40 farmers were intensively trained, 166 received some training, and 71 received only minimal technical support.

During July 2012, the National Center of Specialization for Rice (NCOS Mali) at the Institut d’Économie Rurale (IER) co-organized a West Africa SRI Workshop in Burkina Faso that attracted 60 participants from 13 West African countries. The 3-year project, Improving and Scaling Up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa (SRI-WAAPP), that evolved from the 2012 workshop formally began in 2014. SRI-WAAPP is an initiative of the World-Bank-funded West Africa Agricultural Projection Program (WAAPP). As of 2016, There are 115 sites where farmers have been trained in SRI methods by the project. (See map at right for locations).

Progress and Activities

2018 Updates
  • arrowField Day on SRI Held in Forgho[November 12, 2018] On November 8, 2018, the Regional Directorate of Agriculture of Gao, in partnership with the Green Innovation Center for the Agribusiness Sector (CIV) of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), organized a field day on SRI. The showcase plot No. 10 of the late Abdoul Aziz Moussa in Forgho Almata (in the rural district of Soni Ali Ber) served as the center of this event which was chaired by the head of the statistical office monitoring-evaluation and communication to the Regional Directorate of Agriculture, Soumana Koïta. Also present were the assistant for the dissemination of the VICs, Karamoko Sanogo, the Regional Director of the Rural Engineering, Drissa Keita, the Mayor of the Soni Ali Ber commune, Abdul Razack Y. Maiga, as well as several farmers. According to the article in, SRI’s importance is that it can produce higher yields in addition to saving fertilizer, water and seeds. For instance, a farmer who can usually harvests 2-3 tons per hectare can obtain 5-6 tons with SRI if they can control their water use. As SRI has already proven be effective in Mali and other countries, the National Directorate of Agriculture through the regional directorates collaborates with GIZ to promote SRI in combination with other technologies such as Deep Placement of Urea and bio-fertilizers (organova, fernova, biostimulant). The results obtained are quite positive, with an average yield of 7.5 tons/ha and a growth rate ranging from 40 to 50% by contribution to the average yield in the PIV and an average yield of 2.5 tons/ha in the lowlands.Baillourou Abdoul Aziz Maiga, one of the producers practicing SRI, testifies that there is a big difference between SRI and conventional practice, especially in terms of seed: With the SRI, he transplanted one hectare with eight kg whereas with the conventional practice, it is more than 40kg. Also, with SRI he plants one plant per hill versus 2-4 seedlings per hill as is common with conventional practice. Finally, SRI is economical in terms of water. “I invite my fellow farmers to practice SRI, because it brings more than the conventional method,” said Bachourou producer Abdoul Aziz. The mayor of the commune of Soni Ali Ber, Abdul Razack Maiga, says that his commune has 22,000 ha irrigable and has 108,000 farmers, fishermen and agro-fishermen. Here, with SRI and the assistance of PASSIP, the living conditions of the farmers has been improved and today they are no longer in exile because they manage to save money. He invited agricultural technicians and their partners to promote this practice and to support farmers. The assistant for the diffusion of the CIV, Karamoko Sanogo, indicated that the objective of this open day is to move toward a national program for the SRI farming system. Today, he argued, “we can say that rice is part of the staple food of the people of our country, but it turns out that in cultivating it, farmers are confronted with climatic and environmental problems. This is why we have found it necessary to bring in innovative techniques and technologies that take into account the environmental and climatic aspects and increase the production of farmers.” [See French language article on the Maliactu website for more details.]
  • arrow Can A Hungry Mali Turn Rice Technology into “White Gold”?[October 19, 2018] An article by Dieneba Deme published by the Thomas Reuters Foundation considers the benefits of SRI for Mali. Here are some excerpts: “When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage. Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe – but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community. “We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ. With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique, known as rice intensification (SRI), to adapt to the effects of climate change. The method has raised hopes that Mali’s small-scale rice farmers might be able to increase their productivity to meet the country’s gargantuan appetite for the grain. SRI is used on both irrigated and non-irrigated land, meaning it is possible to cultivate rice even in Mali’s desert, pilots conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development have shown. Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries.””Interest in SRI has mounted as droughts and erratic rainfall become more common, added urgency to efforts to create a steady stream of food from farmland to cooking pots. Mali is West Africa’s second-largest rice producer, but it still imports 18 percent of its rice annually, according to Abdoulaye Koureissi, national coordinator for a rice farmers platform. Imports prevent local production from reaching its full potential, he said. And longer droughts and other forms of unpredictable weather are destroying an ever-larger share of crops across this country. Malian authorities are looking for ways to reduce imports and become self-sufficient in rice, said Kouyaté at GIZ. For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification. The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilisers with organic ones, he said. What’s more, SRI naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate, he said.”

    “Kouyaté said that rice intensification uses up to 40 percent less water than traditional rice growing methods. The European Union and other international funders have supported aid projects that encourage the practice in six of Mali’s administrative regions so far. This year, around 100 small-scale farmers were trained in the method through a GIZ-backed effort, Kouyaté said, and hundreds more have been trained in other areas of Mali. Yet, rice intensification has remained largely experimental, with no governmental policy in place to bolster the adoption of the practice, Kouyaté said. Another obstacle, experts say, is that many farmers using techniques hundreds of years old are often reluctant to try new ways of growing rice. And the cost of a rice transplanting machine – a key part of the system – is between $2,100 and $2,900, more than many farmers can afford. Koureissi, of the rice farmers’ platform, said he has also seen farmers discouraged by the time investment required to learn the new method, teach it to their farmhands and then practice it “(Rice intensification) asks for a lot of time spent in planting rice, because the seedlings are planted very young, 8 to 15 days old, maximum,” he said. But Sibiri Konaté, who has been farming rice for nearly three decades in Baguineda, a small town in the country’s south, said the new technique has changed his life. Konaté went across the country to get training on rice intensification from another farmer two years ago. On his four-hectare farm – part of a larger communal allocation – Konaté said he has seen his harvest jump from seven to 10 tonnes per hectare. Even in bad years ‘I always manage’ to get a harvest, he said. ‘But it is difficult to get other farmers here to commit.’ ” [See full article. There is also a French language version.]

  • arrowAgronomie Africaine article Correlates Farming Practices and Yield[February 15, 2018] According to a 2017 article by Bagayoko et al in Agronomie Africaine, an exploratory study was conducted from 2008 to 2011 in the Office du Niger to determine the feasibility of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) cultural practice. The experiments consisted of 3 treatments: farmer practice (T1) ; SRI (T2) with 5 tons of manure and the recommended rate of mineral fertilizer and SRI with 5 tons of manure and half of the recommended dose of mineral fertilizer (T3). A total of 40 farmers were involved in the three year evaluation, in which large spatial and temporal variabilities were observed. Yields varied between 4.5 and 10 t /ha and more for SRI and between 3 and 8t t / ha for the conventional practice. There was a significant correlation between farming practices and yields, and between yields and soil factors (especially N and P). More than 60% of the variations in performance were due to the control of cultural practices and water management in both systems (conventional method and SRI). Because of large spatial variability of yields, it was concluded that the SRI can lead to low yields if proper cultural practices are not followed.
2016 Updates
  • arrowSRI Training Sites Expanded Under SRI-WAAPP[May 23, 2016] SRI continues to expand the areas of Mali where rice is cultivated, as can be seen in the SRI-WAAPP project site map above. The map, which is current as of 2016, shows 115 sites where farmers have received training in SRI since the project formally began in 2014. Arecent article on the WAAPP website explains that farmers have adopted SRI in order to increase production, but have also used less seed. With traditional methods, farmers were planting 120 kg of seeds and receiving yields of 3-4 tonnes/ha, but with SRI, farmers have used only 15 kg of seeds and received 8-8.5 tons/ha. The increased production is also reducing the amount of rice that has to be imported into Mali.
2015 Updates
  • arrow Continued Success for 3A-Sahel’s SRI Project Near Douentza Douenza 2014[February 2015] Following on successful 2012 and 2013 SRI projects, a third renewal of the 3A-Sahel SRI project near Douentza, Mali, took place during 2014 and was concluded as of January 2015. The final phase of the SRI Global grant, which was funded by the Bridging Peace Foundation, included large-scale dissemination of SRI from May 2014 through January 2015 in the villages of Deri, Kokoro, Koundioume, Sobbo, N’Dempaba, Saréféré Mirgna, and Douentza in the Djaptodj, and Douentza communes, in the zone of Douentza, Mali. These activities allowed rice farmers in the area to learn about and appreciate SRI and to achieve an average yield increase of 63.36% over the usual farmer practice. Some formal training was provided to 166 farmers, and 40 farmers growing rice on 10 hectares were intensely trained and supported by the technical staff. In addition, 71 farmers used SRI techniques to grow rice on 23.75 hectares, with only minimal technical support. See the final 2014-2015 summary project report or the full length French language report for more information. [Previous reports are also available on the first phase (2012-2013), which introduced SRI in ten villages in the region, and the second phase (2013-2014), which introduced SRI to six additional villages while scaling up SRI in seven other villages where it had already been introduced.]
  • arrowMali Represented in SRI Events in Thailand[November 10, 2014] Gaoussou Traoré (West Africa Agricultural Production Program, WAAPP), Minamba Bagayoko (WAAPP / Institute for Economic Research (IER)) and Ousmane Djire (Societe Cooperative Artisanale des Forgerons de l’Office du Niger) made presentations at the Workshop on Smallholder Crop Production Equipment for SRI, held November 1-3, 2014, at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Pathumthani, Thailand. In addition to the equipment event, which was attended by 60 participants from 12 countries, they also participated in the Workshop on Building Alliances around SRI and Agro-Ecology (October 26-27, 2014) and the 4th International Rice Congress and Workshop (October 27-31, 2014), both of which were held in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • arrow Successful SRI Project in Douentza Winds DownDouentza group 2013[March 2014] The 3A-Sahel SRI project near Douentza, Mali, reported on its introductory trials in the villages of Amba, Batouma, Kiro, N’dempaba, Deri, and Douentza during the first half of 2013, which were followed by scaling up dissemination of SRI from June through December 2013 in the villages of Boré, Falembougou, Manko, Kokoro, Saréféré Mirgna, Koundioume and Sobbo in the Dangol Boré, Djaptodj, and Douentza communes, all of which are located in the zone of Douentza, Mali. Overall yields using SRI techniques were 51% higher than yields obtained from the usual farmer practices in the area. A follow up project is under consideration. (See final 2013 project report).
  • arrowImproving and Scaling Up SRI in West Africa Project Begins Its First Phase[January 2014] Improving and Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa is in the 3-year first phase of a regional World Bank-financed project to increase rice productivity throughout a 13-country Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) area. The project, which includes Mali, is part of the larger West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP). The project is designed to increase rice yields by 30% in targeted areas in each of the participating countries by strengthening the human and institutional capacities, by focusing on innovation and development of SRI practices and technologies that are adapted to the local environment, and by facilitating knowledge exchange and meeting the demand for knowledge among the stakeholders associated with the rice value chain. The development and extension of technologies and methodologies for increasing the productivity for each crop or set of crops in the WAAPP is delegated to individual focal institutions across the region; the Government of Mali’s Institut d’Économie Rurale (IER) is the designated National Center of Specialization in Rice (CNS-Riz), and is responsible for the majority of the rice components of the WAAPP. As part of their mandate to improve rice productivity across the region, CNS-Riz has teamed up with Cornell University’s SRI-Rice to implement the regional project on Improving and Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa.’ (See project website.)
  • arrow Project in Douentza Succeeds Despite the War in Mali[April 2013] A project co-sponsored by SRI Global and SRI-Rice was carried out by the local NGO 3A-Sahel continued to operate successfully in Mali during 2012 despite occupation by the Islamic jihadists who swept down from the north. The introductory SRI trials from June through December 2012 in the villages of Boré, Falembougou, Manko, Kokoro, Saréféré Mirgna, Koundioume and Sobbo in the Dangol Boré and Djaptodji communes, in the zone of Douentza, Mali. SRI yields ranged from 6 to 11 tons per hectare, and controls from 2 to 6 tons. SRI yields were from 2 to 6 tons higher than controls. SRI-Rice helped design and analyze the data sheets for the project. Press reports of the project were reported in the Cornell Chronicle (January), PeriodiCALS magazine (March) and Farming Matters (March). (See also 2012 project report to SRI Global).
  • Farmers viewing last year's resultsThe 3A Sahel in Mali was continued during 2013, starting with some organizational meetings with the farmers (see photos at right). Building on the 2012 pilot project, which was successful in testing SRI with 70 farmers in 7 villages (despite being the middle of a war zone), 3A Sahel is working to expand use of SRI to all 254 rice farmers in these seven villages, and also to introduce SRI to 60 farmers in 6 new villages. While the 2012 project continued on despite its location in the middle of a war zone, the area is now free of control by the jihadists, who fled following intervention by French and government of Mali forces early in 2013. (See SRI Global Facebook page for more information).
1999-2012 -see Mali activity archives

Reports and Evaluations

Blog and News Articles

Practical Information

Slide and Poster Presentations


Photo Archive

  • Photo collections by Erika Styger are available on the SRI Timbuktu Website and the SRI Timbuktu Blog
  • Additional photos by Erika Styger and her colleagues in Mali are available in the SRI-Rice photo collection can be seen in the slideshow running in the summary section at the top of the page. If you do not have Flash installed, click here to see individual photos which are made available on Picasaweb. (Also note slideshow feature).