Monday, March 25, 2013

Water-sparing rice farming proves viable in Kenya

Isaiah Esipisu in AlertNet: Faced with pressure on supplies of irrigation water due to climate shifts and an increasing population, rice farmers in four Kenyan irrigation schemes have adopted a new crop management system that allows them to grow their crops without flooding their paddies throughout the season.

The Kenyan government, through the Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development Centre (MIAD), has borrowed a technique from India known as the system of rice intensification. It has proved to be an effective way of growing rice with limited water in this east African country. The system has been widely practised for at least 10 years in Asian countries, where it has been shown to produce greater yields. But the MIAD initiative marks its introduction to Kenya.

Traditionally, Kenyan rice farmers have grown their crop in paddies kept under water from the time of planting to maturity. However, the new system moves them away from the old practice of flooding to a new approach of growing the crop in paddies that are intermittently dry, and planting the seedlings in lines and more widely spaced apart.

“It was not easy to change farmers from what they have always known (as) the correct practice to a completely new one that they have never seen anywhere else,” said Raphael Wanjogu, the principal research officer at MIAD….

Brown rice, public domain 

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