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Summary of SRI in Kenya

On August 18, 2009, a meeting of stakeholders was held at the headquarters of the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, located in the Kirinyaga district of the Central Province, to formally launch the evaluation and demonstration of SRI in Kenya. The meeting was organized by Bancy Mati, program manager of the IMAWESA Network (for Improved Management of Agricultural Water in Eastern and Southern Africa), and Jean Njiru, former Humphrey Fellow at Cornell who has now returned to Kenya and is helping get SRI introduced in her country, with assistance from Markus Wolfe, irrigation specialist in the World Bank office in Nairobi.

The initiative to evaluate and promote the adoption of SRI in Kenya began as a multi-stakeholder, participatory 'project' combining research, capacity-building and outreach activities. Spearheaded by IMAWESA, the partners include the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD), the World Bank and World Bank Institute (WBI), the Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD) Centre, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the National Irrigation Board (NIB), the Ministries of Agriculture and of Water and Irrigation (MWI), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, the private sector, and the farmers themselves.

The World Bank Institute organized a videoconference on September 11, 2009, that enabled the experimenting Kenyan farmers to interact with persons in other African countries and India who have considerable personal experience with SRI crop and water management to be able to advise on best SRI practice. A subsequent Stakeholders' Meeting on the System for Rice Intensification was held January 27, 2010, at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) complex at Girgiri, Nairobi. Later that year, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through its Research, Production and Extension's Innovation Fund, began supporting a three-year SRI research and capacity-building at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme. The World Bank Institute organized an SRI study tour to several SRI projects in India for 18 African officials and project staff from six countries during June 2010. Kenyans participated in a third WBI videoconference on climate-smart agriculture August 24, 2011.

The First National SRI Workshop was held May 7, 2010. In July 2010 an SRI Resource Center was opened at MIAD in Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga District in Kenya's Central Province. The National Irrigation Board (NIB) and JKUAT began implementing a six-month project in July 2011 to scale-up SRI in the Ahero, West Kano, Bunyala and Mwea Irrigation Schemes.

By 2012, approximately 3,000 farmers have been trained in SRI methods with adopters now numbering about 2,000 in the four irrigation schemes (Ahero, West Kano, Bunyala and Mwea). Bancy Mati reported yields up to 9 t/ha have been achieved with Basmati rice and over 17t/ha for a high-yielding IR variety; water savings ranged from 25-33%, depending upon the season. An article published in the March 2012 edition of the International Journal of Current Research and Review showed water productivity (kilograms of rice per cubic meter of irrigation water supplied) averaging 120% higher for the three varieties under SRI management. A subsequent 2013 Agricultural Water Management article studying adoption and economic return with SRI compared to farmer practice found that showed a SRI benefit-cost ratio of 1.76 and 1.88 in the first and second seasons, respectively, compared to 1.3 and 1.35 for farmer practice. A film about SRI in Kenya won first prize on July 20, 2013, at the 2nd African Agricultural Film Festival in Accra, Ghana; Bancy Mati subsequently showed the film at the 2015 COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in Decmeber 2105. A segment on SRI aired on the widely-viewed Kenyan TV show, Shamba Shape-Up, during 2013, which reached a wide audience in Eastern Africa. During November 2014, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) launched two AICAD-sponsored SRI projects in the in Mwea and Western Kenya irrigation schemes.

Progress and Activities

2015-2016 Updates
  • arrowBancy Mati Makes the Case for SRI at the COP21 Climate Change Conference

    [December 20, 2015] Responding to an invitation by the African Climate Policy Center (ACAPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for side events at the African Pavilion during COP21/CMP11 global climate change event in Paris, Bancy Mati traveled to France to show her film “System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Growing More Rice with Less Water. Experiences from Kenya” under the sub-theme “Climate-Smart Agriculture and food security.” While at the COP21 Conference, which was held November 30 - December 12, 2015, she also gave a video interview of her SRI work to journalists from the University of Queensland, attended the exhibitions at "Espaces Generations Climat," and participated in both the TerrAfrica side meeting on sustainable land management in Africa and the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 (SIF15). (See Bancy Mati's COP21 Conference report for details.)

  • arrow Water Research and Resource Center at Jomo Kenyatta University Launches Two SRI Projects

    JKUAT project[December 10, 2014] Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through its Water Research and Resource Center (WARREC), launched two SRI projects in Mwea and Western Kenya irrigation schemes. Bancy Mati is the Principle Investigator for the projects, both of which are funded by the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD). ‘Enhancing Adoption of SRI through Capacity Building and Linking Farmers with Industry and Niche Medium and Main Outlet Markets,’ is a six-month project to build the capacity of farmers to enhance adoption of SRI and facilitate linking SRI farmers to industry and niche markets. Identifying solutions to Key Challenges Facing Adoption of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Kenya, a three-year US$60,000 project, is intended to improve rice production through adoption of SRI by small-scale rice farmers. (See report on the WARREC website.)

  • arrow Research on SRI Fields Under Changing Weather Conditions Published in International Journal of Agronomy

    [April 15, 2014] An article by W. O. Nyang'au et al, "Estimating rice yield under changing weather conditions in Kenya using CERES rice model," was published in the March 2014 edition of the International Journal of Agronomy. The study, which was undertaken with farmers in Mwea and Western Kenya irrigation schemes, revealed that increase in both maximum and minimum temperatures affects Basmati 370 and IR 2793- 80-1 grain yield under SRI. Increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration led to an increase in grain yield for both Basmati and IR 2793-80-1 under SRI and increase in solar radiation also had an increasing impact on both Basmati 370 and IR 2793-80-1 grain yield. The results of the study indicated that weather conditions in Kenya do affect rice yield under SRI and, as climate change is in evidence in Kenya, the changing patterns should be taken into consideration in agricultural plans to improve food security. [For details, see open access article.]

  • arrow SRI Featured on Kenyan Television Show

    [November 2013] The popular Kenyan TV show Shamba Shape-Up aired an episode (Series 3, Episode 13) on October 1, 2013, that included a visit to a farmer's field and a follow-up visit to see how his SRI trials turned out. Advice on how to undertake SRI was provided by an expert from the National Irrigation Board. The first 7:20 minutes of this 24 minute episode is about a successful SRI undertaking on Evan's farm. (See video in English or in Swahili). As Shamba Shape-Up reportedly has over 11 million viewers in East Africa, the discussion of SRI in the series will hopefully have a good impact in East Africa!

  • arrowBoro with weeder Adoption, Constraints and Economic Returns of SRI-Grown Rice in Mwea, Kenya

    [September 18, 2013] The paper "Adoption, constraints and economic returns of paddy rice under the system of rice intensification in Mwea, Kenya," authored by J. A. Ndiiri et al, was published in the November 2013 edition of Agricultural Water Management. SRI adoption was assessed and net income advantages were compared to farmer practice (FP) during the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 main growing seasons in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme. (See article for details of practices.) Forty of the 50 SRI farmers from 18 units that were sampled increased yields by1.6 t/ha (33%) while seed requirements were reduced by 87% and water savings averaged 28%. While SRI required 9% more labor costs on average, results were variable, and, in three units, labor costs were reduced by an average of 13%. While SRI required 30% more labor for weeding than FP in the first season, this was reduced to 15% in the second season when push-weeders became available. (See example of weeder at right.) SRI gave a higher benefit-cost ratio of 1.76 and 1.88 in the first and second seasons, respectively, compared to 1.3 and 1.35 for FP.

    The results indicated that SRI practices of planting younger seedlings with wider spacing and intermittent irrigation lead to increased paddy rice yields with concomitant rise in the income accruing to farmers. The authors also concluded that the net benefit could increase with availability of mechanical weeders and use of organic fertilization. Finally, up-scaling of SRI in Mwea can be expected to help achieve greater national and household food security.

  • arrow SRI Film Wins First Prize at the 2nd African Agricultural Film Festival

    Bancy wins film award 2013[July 17, 2013] A film about SRI has won first prize at the 2nd African Agricultural Film Festival in Accra, Ghana. Produced by Bancy Mati (shown at right accepting the award), the entry entitled "System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Producing More Rice with Less Water! The Kenyan Experience" was presented at the festival which was organized by FARA in conjunction with the 6th African Agricultural Science Week. The prize will be awarded officially on July 20 at the close of the conference. (See video).

  • arrow Article on SRI Water Productivity in Mwea Irrigation Scheme Published in the International Journal of Current Research and Review

    [April 15, 2012] An assessment of water productivity for rice production using SRI methods and the traditional continuous flooded rice practice in Mwea, Kenya, was published in the March 2012 edition of International Journal of Current Research and Review. The article by J.A. Ndiiri, B.M. Mati et al, Comparison of water savings of paddy rice under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) growing rice in Mwea, Kenya, reported on field experiments conducted in 2010/2011 at Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD) of Mwea Irrigation Scheme (MIS) during the main 2010-2011 growing season. The results showed that SRI methods gave the highest water-saving and yields for all the three varieties. Yield increased by 0.6t/ha, 2t/ha and 1.5t/ha while water savings were 2528m3/ha, 2268m3/ha and 2846m3/ha for the Basmati 370, BW 196 and IR 2793-80-1 varieties, respectively. Similarly, calculations showed water productivity (kilograms of rice per cubic meter of irrigation water supplied) averaging 120% higher for the three varieties under SRI management (2.16 kg/m3 vs. 0.98 kg/m3).

  • arrow SRI Adoption and Yields Improve with Capacity-Building Efforts

    Bancy Mati at SRI harvestBancy Mati (right), the driving force behind SRI adoption and research in Kenya, has provided a document summarizing how SRI is evolving there. Just two and a half years since the practice was introduced in Mwea, it is evident that SRI is now being well-accepted. Approximately 3,000 farmers have been trained in SRI methods and adopters now number about 2,000 in the four irrigation schemes (Ahero, West Kano, Bunyala and Mwea). Mati estimates that tens of thousands have been reached radio broadcasts (also in local languages), newspaper articles, exhibitions and JKUAT open days.

  • This 2011-2012 season has shown good results with yields: Up to 9 t/ha for the lower-yielding Basmati variety compared to 5 t/ha with conventional management and over 17 t/ha for a high-yielding IR variety compared to 9 t/ha without SRI practices. According to research findings, water savings have ranged from 25% in dry weather to 33% in wet weather. A few farmers had access to rotary weeders, but more are anticipated in the coming year.

    Kenyan farmers as well as other rice stakeholders are excited about SRI. A bag of SRI paddy reportedly weighs 10-20 kg more than that of conventional rice, mostly because of greater grain filling (fewer unfilled grains). When milled, the SRI rice has more whole grains (less breakage) so it sells faster, sometimes earning KSh2/kg (˜2.5¢/kg) more than conventional rice. It is interesting to see farmers who have not openly adopted SRI changing their behavior too: Some have reduced flooding of their paddies with water, while others are planting in lines and at wider spacing. As part of the regular training to reach the unreached, which includes those who are slowly leaning towards SRI, an SRI field day was held at the Wamumu block in Mwea on January 30, 2012. The training was conducted almost entirely by several of the 115 farmers who have completed the Training of Trainers (ToT) course.

FOR 2009 -2011 SRI ACTIVITIES, see SRI Kenya Archives

Reports and General Articles

Research and Scholarly Papers (in chronological order of receipt)

Conferences and Meetings (incomplete after 2010)

  • The First National Workshop on SRI in Kenya
    Date: May 7, 2010 at the
    Venue: African Institute for Capacity and Development (AICAD) campus in Juja, near Nairobi.
    Cosponsors: The workshop was planned and implemented as a collaborative, cost-shared activity by the partners, notably JKUAT, IMAWESA, NIB and AICAD.
  • Field days & SRI trainings:
    - Mwea - August 5, 2010, December 7, 2010, July 21, 2011and November 18, 2011
    - SRI Open Day - November 4, 2010
  • Stakeholders' Meeting of the System for Rice Intensification (SRI)
    Date: January 27, 2010
    Venue: World Agroforestry Centre complex at Girgiri, Nairobi
    Organizing Partners: Improved Management for Agricultural Water in Eastern and Southern Africa (IMAWESA)/IFAD, Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (AICAD), World Bank (WB), World Bank Institute (WBI) and AICAD
  • Video conference: Producing More with Less Water and Farm Inputs for Climate Adaptation: Knowledge Sharing on System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
    Date: Friday, September 11, 2009
    Sites: Nairobi, Kenya; Antananarivo, Madagascar; Kigali, Rwanda; Chennai, India; Washington, DC, USA
    Organizing Partners:
    World Bank Institute (WBI), The World Bank, Improved Management for Agricultural Water in Eastern and Southern Africa (IMAWESA) , Africa Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD), Global Development Learning Network (GDLN)

Practical Information

PowerPoint Presentations


Photo Collection

  • SRI-Rice Kenya Photo Collection is provided by Bancy Mati. The photos are running as a slideshow in the summary section at the top of the page. Click on the photo showing to enlarge it or to show captions. (See also photos from ALL countries).









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