Scaling Up the System of Rice Intensification in 13 West African Countries
Erika Styger¹* and Khaoula Jaoui²
1 Climate-Resilient Farming Systems, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, 14850, New York, USA
2 Sahara and Sahel Observatory, Tunis 1080, Tunisia
*corresponding author email: email@example.com
RICOWAS, the largest SRI scaling-up project to date, will be implemented over four years in 13 West African countries, starting in January 2023. RICOWAS can be considered a follow-on project to the SRI-WAAPP project, which was implemented from 2014-2016 and reached 50,048 farmers growing rice using the SRI method at 1,088 sites on 13,944 hectares across 13 countries, with 56% and 86% SRI yield increases for irrigated and rainfed lowland systems, respectively, over conventional rice production. The objective of RICOWAS is to improve climate resilience and increase the rice system productivity of smallholder rice farmers across West Africa using a climate-resilient rice production approach. The project aims to reach at least 153,000 rice growers with indirect benefits to an estimated 1.5 million people. Given the highly diverse nature of rice systems and climate zones in West Africa, RICOWAS will apply the conceptual framework for SRI with four interactive crop production principles, i) encourage early and healthy plant establishment, ii) minimize competition among plants, iii) build up fertile soils rich with organic matter and beneficial soil biota, and iv) manage water carefully to avoid both flooding and water stress. These principles remain the same no matter where SRI is applied and provide the foundation for adaptation to local conditions. With SRI at the center, RICOWAS additionally integrates agro-ecozone specific Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) practices to maximize the adaptation potential of the vulnerable rice production systems throughout West Africa, calling the new approach Climate-Resilient Rice Production (CRRP).