Achieving Food Security while using water and land resources in a sustainable manner is a major challenge to any country. Agriculture’s success is therefore hinged on effectively using Innovation to increase productivity and ensure profitability while managing natural resources.
With this in mind, ARIFU, an educational technology company in conjunction with JKUAT’s Prof. Bancy Mati came up with a digital System of Rice Intensification (SRI) training app for rice farmers in Kenya. The app is an important source of information for the farmers on practices towards an increase in rice water productivity.
The ARIFU platform is an interactive chatbot that offers agronomic advice and financial skills training to farmers through mobile phones, giving them access to much-needed information.
SRI, is a package of practices developed to improve the productivity of rice grown in paddles. Unlike the conventional method of continuous flooding of paddy fields, it involves intermittent wetting and drying of paddies of the root zone as well as specific soil and agronomic management practices.
While addressing farmers during the Capacity Development Project for Enhancement of Rice Production in Irrigation Schemes (CaDPERP) field day in Mwea, November 17, 2022, Prof. Mati, a Land and Water Management Professor said the app is a game changer in the agriculture sector, especially for rice farming.
“This app will be accessible to anyone with a mobile phone and will be important in providing up-to-date information to farmers on the new and improved farming practices,” said Prof. Mati who is also the Chairperson of the Association of Irrigation Acceleration Platform (AIAP),
Prof. Mati showed the farmers how to access the SRI digital app which she noted would help the farmers significantly in improving soil conditions and their irrigation methods.
She believes innovation is the way to go if agriculture is to reach its goal and be sustainable in the long term. Prof. Mati further urged the farmers to use innovations and information available that will enhance their farming practices.
According to the ARIFU founder, Mr. Craig Heintzman, ARIFU is a new kind of platform that’s making quality education affordable and scalable.
“ARIFU’s digital learning tools can be delivered to any mobile phone and customized to meet the needs of large consumer goods and development organizations,” observed Mr. Heintzman.
Rice is steadily becoming a staple food in Africa, as urbanization and population growth has seen demand for rice grow rapidly over recent decades. Even with growing demand, the continent’s need outstrips production supply in part due to relatively fewer areas put under rice cultivation and poor yields.
The Kenyan government, through the Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development Centre (MIAD) introduced the technique (SRI) to farmers and it has proved to be an effective way of growing rice with limited water in the country.