SRI FEATURE ARTICLE: May 12, 2016
The Newest SRI Champions: Farmers and Extension Agents in Côte d’Ivoire
By Hillary Mara, based on report by Alphonse Bouet, National Facilitator of SRI-WAAPP Côte d’Ivoire
Through the project on Improving and Scaling up the System of Rice Intensification in West Africa (SRI-WAAPP), the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is being tested at various sites throughout Côte d’Ivoire. (See map at right for site locations). According to the SRI national facilitator, Alphonse Bouet, this is intended not only to improve the productivity of rice farming, but to help the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice and to increase its export capacity. SRI-WAAPP is 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) project area. The project, which is being implemented January 2014 - June 2016, is part of the larger West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP).
The National Agency for the Promotion of Rural Development (ANADER) led a test of preliminary extension efforts, training 155 rice farmers in SRI at nine test sites. This first attempt at SRI in Côte d'Ivoire found comparative improvements over conventional methods, including grain per panicle increases of 12-48% at all nine sites and yield increases of up to 67%, as well as noteworthy farmer interest with 92% of targeted farmers following through with the pilot test. These extension efforts have already inspired SRI adoption outside of test sites, with a significant amount of land being independently cultivated outside of the project area.
This major success and unanticipated rapid spread is thanks to the efforts of various people who have stepped up as SRI champions. Two dynamic extension agents, Gnamien Kouakou and Saïbou Idée, led trainings with rice producers outside of the project scope and are active on the SRI Daloa Facebook group (right) using pictures and stories to spread the message about SRI. Also notable is Adama Yeo, a farmer with 20 years’ experience cultivating rice under conventional methods. Despite his years of knowledge and expertise with rice, he enthusiastically experimented with SRI and quickly received notice and admiration for his active involvement in SRI extension activities in the Daloa sub-Prefecture. Furthermore, Adama has mobilized 140 women farmers to start SRI activities in the coming growing season! This attests to the benefits Adama found on his own test plot and, if all goes as he believes it will, his trainees will embrace SRI with the same enthusiasm.
Other SRI champions who received direct training from ANADER, Marcel Kouakou Yao and Nangolo Coulibaly, were responsible for training nearly 30% of the total project beneficiaries, despite funding obstacles for trainings and activities. These champions also inspired farmers to independently grow 22 hectares of rice in the SRI method outside of the project in Tiassalé and Yamoussoukro! (See photo of training at Yamoussoukro at right.)
These remarkable results and rapid uptake by farmers in Côte d’Ivoire has been possible thanks to these champions joining the ranks of others around the world who are committed to spreading the knowledge about SRI to improve farmer’s livelihoods. (See full report in French on recent work by ANADER in Côte d’Ivoire.)
For more information on SRI in Côte d’Ivoire, see the SRI-Rice Côte d’Ivoire page.