Rice farmers in Sierra Leone will be able to achieve more than eight times higher yield by using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of rice cultivation, according to the Rice Research Coordinator, West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP).
The SRI system, which aims at higher rice production with less usage of chemical fertilizers, was introduced last year in some parts of Sierra Leone on a trial basis. The WAAPP Coordinator told local sources that the system uses organic fertilizers, known as kennel cake, and a single seedling, which can yield approximately over 200 seeds per panicle, unlike a cluster of seedlings used in the traditional farming system. He claimed that while the farmers achieved a yield of 1.8 tons per hectare with the traditional system, they could achieve around 15 tons per hectare with the SRI system.
However, the WAAPP coordinator says that the process is labor-intensive since farmers have to plant each seedling patiently with sufficient space between the seedlings to allow free flow of water. But he adds that since SRI produces more rice with less seeds, farmers are satisfied. The WAAPP Coordinator is planning to use SRI system throughout Sierra Leone in the next season. He says that the country’s rice production would increase significantly in the coming years.
Sierra is an importer of rice. According to the USDA, Sierra Leone’s rice production is estimated at around 693,000 tons (milled rice basis) in MY 2013-14, down about 15% from around 819,000 tons produced in MY 2012-13. The area harvested is estimated at around 625,000 hectares, and yield per hectare stands at around 2 tons per hectare. The country’s domestic consumption is estimated at around one million tons, while rice imports are estimated at around 325,000 tons.
Brown Mang Onwuka