Water-Sparing Rice Farming Proves Viable

Faced with pressure on supplies of irrigation water due to climate shifts and an increasing population, rice farmers in irrigation schemes have adopted a new crop management system that allows them to grow their crops without flooding their paddies throughout the season. Governments through Irrigation Agricultural Development Centre (IADC), has borrowed a technique from India known as the system of rice intensification. It has proved to be an effective way of growing rice with limited water in African nations. The system has been widely practised for at least 10 years in Asian countries, where it has been shown to produce greater yields. Traditionally, rice farmers have grown their crop in paddies kept under water from the time of planting to maturity. However, the new system moves them away from the old practice of flooding to a new approach of growing the crop in paddies that are intermittently dry, and planting the seedlings in lines and more widely spaced apart.

"It was not easy to change farmers from what they have always known (as) the correct practice to a completely new one that they have never seen anywhere else," said Raphael Wanjogu, the principal research officer at Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD). Wanjogu explained that the system of rice intensification (SRI) is part of the response to changing climatic conditions, as well as a strategy for improving food security. Rice is one of the major staples, eaten by all communities. But a country like Kenya produces only 110,000 tones of rice every year, much less than the 300,000 tones consumed annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The shortfall is filled by imports from Asian countries, particularly Pakistan, Thailand and India. The rice intensification programme aims to change that. Source: http://allafrica.com

 

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