What is SRI?
SRI is a set of practices for growing paddy rice using less water, yet results in increased yields and grain quality. SRI has many other benefits, including reduced inputs, use of less seeds, lower production costs, uses less water, as well as environmental benefits like eradication of mosquito breeding in paddies and increase in net incomes from rice production.
SRI was Pioneered by JKUAT Professor
SRI was introduced in Kenya at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in August 2009, through the efforts of Prof. Bancy Mati of JKUAT. The initiative drew the support of partners who include; rice farmers, staff and students of JKUAT, researchers from the Mwea Irrigation and Agriculture Development (MIAD) – in particular, Dr. Raphael Wanjogu, staff from the National Irrigation Board (NIB)- particularly the General Manager of NIB, policy makers, and international partners such as the World Bank Institute and Cornell University of USA.
Institutional support for SRI
The piloting of SRI at farmer level in Mwea Irrigation Scheme was supported by The World Bank, from a then on-going project called Natural Resources Management (NRM). AICAD followed with seed funding supporting the first SRI research work, an MSC which confirmed that SRI indeed works in Mwea. From February 2010, JKUAT Innovation Fund has been supporting a programme on SRI research, training and extension work. From 2011, the National Irrigation Board (NIB) has funded the extension of SRI to Western Kenya, covering; Ahero, Bunyala, West Kano and South West Kano Schemes, including Mwea Irrigation Scheme itself.
Achievements made by the SRI project
Increased rice yields
The SRI project has been a great success. Farmers who adopted the method have seen their rice yields go up to 7 tons/ha for Basmati variety (which is low yielding ) and up to 12 tons/ha for BW variety (high yielding). Moreover, rice grown under SRI matures faster, has a harder grain which when milled, does not easily break. A bag of SRI paddy is heavier, weighing 10-20 kilos more than conventional paddy. Water management through SRI breaks the mosquito breeding cycle since larvae die within two days of drying the paddy field reducing the incidence of malaria. Occurrence of water-borne diseases such as Bilharzia is also reduced as well as parasites such as leeches.
Capacity Building and Outreach
There have been extensive training, awareness creation and outreach activities implemented to promote SRI. These have included Field Days, Open Days, Seminars, Practical Demonstrations, Video Conferences. Also SRI has been displayed at Agricultural Shows, adverts in the mass media broadcast and SMS messaging targeting SRI farmers. In addition, thousands of training manuals have been printed and distributed at all SRI training events. From these efforts, the adoption of SRI has grown, such that by the end of 2012, there were over 4,000 farmers practicing SRI, with over 3000 acres of paddy fields being under the SRI system. The project has also built the capacity of 1 PhD and 4 MSC students who conducted their research on SRI. Further, over 20,000 persons from all over Kenya had been reached by the SRI message through various awareness creation forums implemented.