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Improving irrigated rice production in the Senegal River Valley through experiential learning and innovation

Listed author(s):
  • Krupnik, Timothy J.
  • Shennan, Carol
  • Settle, William H.
  • Demont, Matty
  • Ndiaye, Alassane B.
  • Rodenburg, Jonne

Research facilitating farmer–researcher collaboration and experiential learning may provide the missing element to tailor crop management recommendations to meet farmers’ needs. We tested different crop management systems for irrigated rice in three seasons of adaptive research trials in three locations in the middle Senegal River Valley. Our objectives were to assess the agronomic and socio-economic viability of Recommended Management Practices (RMPs) compared to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Farmers’ Practices (FPs). During the 2008 dry season, RMP and SRI significantly increased yields over FP by 2.3 and 2.6tha−1 across sites. Farmers analyzed their experiences in post-experiment meetings. They appreciated SRI’s yield and water-saving potential, but found it labor demanding, especially for weed management requirements that coincided with horticultural activities. Conversely, farmers described RMP’s elevated herbicide rate as costly, and indicated that because of poorly functioning agro-chemical markets, herbicide volumes larger than typically used in FP might be difficult to reliably source. To modify management systems to fit farmers’ needs and assets, we collaboratively developed a fourth, ‘Farmer Adapted Practice’ (FAP) that blended RMP and SRI. FAP used intermittent irrigation during the late vegetative stage, recommended crop density, intermediate seedling age, and a single round of mechanical weeding followed by localized herbicide application. Farmers compared FAP against the initial management systems in the subsequent seasons. Though no yield differences were found between RMP, SRI and FAP, each yielded significantly more (+1.0, +1.1 and +1.5tha−1) than FP. FAP also reduced labor requirements without increasing weed biomass compared to RMP or SRI, and used 40% and 10% less herbicide than RMP and FP, respectively. Cumulative distribution functions showed that FAP increased net profit potential and decreased economic risk. Prior to the 2009 dry season trials, the Senegalese state eliminated herbicide subsidies, doubling their cost. RMP, SRI and FAP yielded 2.9, 3.0 and 3.1tha−1 more than FP. FAP again reduced weeding labor and herbicide requirements while lowering production risk across sites. This study demonstrates the value-added outcomes that result from research that facilitates farmer–researcher collaboration to learn from, innovate and tailor management systems to fit local circumstances.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Systems.

Volume (Year): 109 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 101-112

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Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:109:y:2012:i:c:p:101-112
DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.01.008
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  1. Demont, Matty & Dillen, Koen & Daems, Wim & Sausse, Christophe & Tollens, Eric & Mathijs, Erik, 2009. "On the proportionality of EU spatial ex ante coexistence regulations," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 508-518, December.
  2. Senthilkumar, K. & Bindraban, P.S. & Thiyagarajan, T.M. & de Ridder, N. & Giller, K.E., 2008. "Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 82-94, September.
  3. Van den Berg, Henk & Jiggins, Janice, 2007. "Investing in Farmers--The Impacts of Farmer Field Schools in Relation to Integrated Pest Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 663-686, April.
  4. Tsujimoto, Yasuhiro & Horie, Takeshi & Randriamihary, Hamon & Shiraiwa, Tatsuhiko & Homma, Koki, 2009. "Soil management: The key factors for higher productivity in the fields utilizing the system of rice intensification (SRI) in the central highland of Madagascar," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 100(1-3), pages 61-71, April.
  5. Yann de Mey & Matty Demont & Mandiaye Diagne, 2012. "Estimating Bird Damage to Rice in Africa: Evidence from the Senegal River Valley," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 175-200, 02.
  6. Pretty, Jules N., 1995. "Participatory learning for sustainable agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(8), pages 1247-1263, August.
  7. Seck, Papa A. & Tollens, Eric & Wopereis, Marco C.S. & Diagne, Aliou & Bamba, Ibrahim, 2010. "Rising trends and variability of rice prices: Threats and opportunities for sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 403-411, October.
  8. Moser, Christine M. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2003. "The disappointing adoption dynamics of a yield-increasing, low external-input technology: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 1085-1100, June.
  9. Sinha, Shekhar Kumar & Talati, Jayesh, 2007. "Productivity impacts of the system of rice intensification (SRI): A case study in West Bengal, India," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 55-60, January.
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