50,000 Farmers in 13 Countries: Results from Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa
By Erika Styger and Gaoussou Traoré
The System for Rice Intensification (SRI) has tremendous potential to close the rice production gap in West Africa and to place the region on the desired trajectory of rice self-sufficiency, according to a new book published on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Dakar, Senegal.
50,000 Farmers in 13 Countries: Results from Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa is a publication by Dr Erika Styger and Dr Gaoussou Traore, written for the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development, (CORAF/WECARD), Africa's largest sub-regional research organization. The 120-page book documents the results of using the SRI approach in rice farmers’ fields in 13 West African countries between 2014 and 2016: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
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Overall, the project benefited more than 50,000 farmers directly and reached more than 750,000 people indirectly — of whom 31.6% were women. Yields for farmers increased overall by 56% for irrigated rice from 4.23 t/ha to 6.6 t/ha (average of 292 sites) and 86% for lowland rainfed rice from 2.53 t/ha to 4.71 t/ha (average of 441 sites), by merely planting rice differently and in keeping with the SRI method. The project trained 33,514 people (of which 1032 were technicians) and the number of institutions working with SRI increased from 49 to 215 during the project period.
What’s the Rice Situation in West Africa?
Rice is one of the primary staple food for most of the 430 million people living in West and Central Africa. Its sustainable production and transformation are crucial to the food and nutrition security of the region.
While overall rice production in the 13 countries increased by 24% from 2010 and 2016/17 to 9.9 million tons of milled rice, rice consumption was growing by 35%, faster than expected. Self-sufficiency rate in 2016/2017 reached 54%. The goal set by the “Regional Rice Offensive” of the ECOWAS States is to reach rice self-sufficiency by 2025, producing the 24 million tons of milled rice that are projected to be consumed in the region.
Scaling for Further Impact
“If SRI is to make a real contribution to rice self-sufficiency in West Africa, many more farmers must adopt it,”
say the book authors, Dr. Erika Styger, technical lead for the Regional Coordination of the project and Associate Director for Climate-Resilient Farming Systems at Cornell University, and Dr. Gaoussou Traoré, Regional Coordinator of the project and Coordinator of CNS-Rice.
"How many farmers must be reached before we reach the “tipping point” where SRI becomes the standard for rice cultivation in West Africa? A possible target for the follow-on project could be a farmer adoption rate of 33%, reaching 1.5 million rice farmers and 2.43 million hectares."
Rice self-sufficiency would be a reality in West Africa if all farmers adopt the practice. As calculated by the authors
“If 100% of rice farmers in West Africa had used SRI in 2017, rice self-sufficiency would already have been achieved with a 5% surplus. Replacing rice imports with rice grown in the region would have saved 4.16 billion USD in foreign exchange for 2017 alone.”
Publication Release Coverage
West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program Website: April 18, 2018, in French
Cornell University Chronicle: May 1st, 2018
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, News: May 1st, 2018
SciDevNet Article, May 29, 2018
FoodTank Article, May 30, 2018
Citation of publication
Styger Erika and Traoré Gaoussou. 2018. 50,000 Farmers in 13 Countries: Results from Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa; Achievements and Regional Perspectives for SRI; SRI-WAAPP Project Summary Report, 2014-2016; West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP). The West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), Dakar, Senegal. 120p.