Jul. 16, 2019
The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), in close collaboration with national partners, has launched a high-potential project in which research will be put into effective use to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa by promoting a range of sustainable intensification and diversification innovations for rice-based systems, while reducing their environmental footprint.
The project titled ‘Sustainable and Diversified Rice-based Farming Systems’ is conducted under the ‘Putting Research into Use for Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture and Resilience (PRUNSAR)’ program co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
PRUNSAR works through CGIAR Research Programs to achieve results that impact positively on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and poor rural communities and generate lessons for scaling up. PRUNSAR is under the EU Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) thematic program priority area focused on food, nutritional security, and sustainable agriculture.
This project contributes to the ‘Sustainable Farming Systems’ Flagship Project of the CGIAR Research Program on Rice in Africa. About 3000 stakeholders in Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal are expected to benefit directly and about 27,000 indirectly. The main beneficiaries include small-scale farmers, millers, input dealers, equipment manufacturers, extension agents, researchers and service providers, especially youth.
Rice is the most rapidly growing food commodity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and boosting domestic supply is clearly important for the region. At the same time, rice needs to be produced in more sustainable and environment-friendly ways amid challenges posed by climate change.
“This project focuses therefore, on intensification and diversification options to enhance production in rice-based systems in a sustainable manner,” said Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice Agronomist, who is coordinating this project. “This will lead to improved food and nutritional security and increased income for farmers, while minimizing impact on the environment.”
The project will capitalize on AfricaRice’s work with the Sustainable Rice Platform – which has developed the world’s first rice sustainability standard and impact indicators – to identify sustainability levels of rice farmers in Africa.
“Using farmer-participatory approaches, the project will promote innovations to improve water, nutrient and labor efficiencies,” Dr Saito added. “We will also identify scaling approaches, including business models, that are most effective for disseminating the innovations.”
The project will focus on the following technological interventions, among others:
- RiceAdvice android application, which provides personalized advice to farmers on rice management practices and can increase rice yield by around 0.5 to 1 t/ha and profitability by US$200/ha
- Good agricultural practices (GAP) or integrated crop management (ICM) options, such as appropriate variety and crop-establishment method for flood-prone areas
- Intermittent flooding or alternate wetting and drying (AWD) to improve water productivity of rice at field level
- Appropriate labor-saving machineries for smallholders, such as seeders and motorized weeders
- Crop diversification options for lowland rice-based systems (appropriate legumes, pulse species, wheat and vegetables for rotation with rice)
The project will be implemented by AfricaRice in close association with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) in Nigeria, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in Rwanda and the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA) in Senegal. Technology development and testing will also be conducted in Côte d’Ivoire.
About 27 participants attended the project launch, 2-3 July, at AfricaRice research station at M’bé, Côte d’Ivoire. These included representatives from the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI), the National Center for Agricultural Research (CNRA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), ISRA, the Local Rice Promotion Project (PRORIL), NCRI, the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), and AfricaRice.
After conveying deep appreciation to EU and IFAD for their support, the project partners actively participated in in-depth discussions following the presentations and developed country plans, including scaling mechanisms. They agreed to emphasize sharing of knowledge, capacity development, policy findings and raising of awareness and visibility of the project in line with project guidelines.