Regional technical training held in Dakar, Senegal, on mobile data collection, cartography and GIS

Following up on the May / June training in Cotonou, Benin, the SRI-WAAPP Regional Coordination Unit led a 4-day training August 3-6 in Dakar, Senegal, to reinforce skills learned in Cotonou, and to broaden the scope to include SRI Champions and SRI-WAAPP National Facilitators. Participants came from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, the Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The training provided a hands-on introduction to ESRI’s ArcGIS platform, their new Survey 123 mobile data collection system, and creating outputs for communicating project activities using their interactive Story Maps feature. To see the training report in English, click here.

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The WAAPP Senegal Coordinator and SRI-WAAPP Regional Coordinator speak with Senegalese national television during the training.

Senegal’s SRI project featured on national television

Senegal’s national television was on hand for a workshop and training in Kaolack, and reported on the WAAPP’s SRI project in Kaolack, Fatick and Kaffrine. Abdoualaye SY, the National Facilitator for the project, spoke about how SRI has been proven in several years of trials to be effective in the region. Now, with 150 million CFA of financing approved for three years from FNRAA (le Fonds National de Recherches Agricoles et Agroalimentaires), Senegal is poised to take SRI to scale in the country’s Peanut Basin.

Also speaking in the televised clip was Dr. Waly Diouf, the coordinator for the national program for rice self-sufficiency (Program National de l’Autosuffisance en Riz) who said that SRI is extremely pertinent and that efforts should be made to take it to scale beyond the central region as well.

To see the entire clip follow this link to see the entire newscast – the SRI segment plays during minutes 20:57 to 23:45.

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Scene from the field: cono weeder distribution in Gao, Mali

Mechanization is an important bottleneck to address for rice farmers in West Africa, whether using SRI or conventional methods. As part of the regional WAAPP SRI program, local artisans in Gao, Mali, were hired to produce 100 cono weeders, which will greatly ease, speed up and enhance the adoption of SRI throughout the Gao area.

The pictures below are from SRI Champion Hamidou Guindo, who has been working with SRI since its early days in Mali. At center (below) is the Gao region’s Director of Agriculture, presenting a weeder to a local farmer in December 2014.

Photos by Hamidou Guindou

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SRI training kicks of large effort to train 5,000 farmers in Southern Benin’s Ouémé River Valley

Fresh from the August 2014 regional training and workshop in neighboring Togo, the Benin WAAPP host organization PROCAD held the first training in November of an initiative designed to mainstream SRI in the important Ouémé River Valley in the southern part of the country.

The training was held at the Hotel Behova in Dangbo, just northwest of Benin’s capital city, Porto Novo, from November 12th to 14th. Sixty farmers partook, with the training led by Dr. Pascal Gbenou, former West Africa head of rice for the West African Network of Farmer’s and Agricultural Producer’s Organizations (ROPPA) and founder of the nearby agricultural training school SAIN, and Antonin Akiyoko, an SRI trainer frequently active in central and northern Benin with the NGO DEDRAS. Participating farmers cultivate lowland rainfed fields, many with improved water management techniques. Over the course of the next few years future trainings of trainers and relay trainings will extend SRI to an estimated 5,000 farmers in the area.

Pascal was instrumental in introducing SRI to the area and to Benin in 2009 after first learning about it while in Madagascar.

All photos by Anne-Marie Mitchell

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Senegal launches major SRI initiative to train up to 5,000 farmers in the western Peanut Basin

After tests dating back to 2009 in Senegal’s Fatick Region proved that the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) could give positive results for smallholder farmers in the area, the country’s agricultural and rural extension agency (ANCAR) announced on December 1st that they would focus efforts on scaling up SRI to 5,000 farmers in the broader Sine-Saloum area, which includes the Fatick, Kaolack and Kaffrine regions.

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ANCAR’s Director, Abdoulaye Sy, spoke about the proven ability of SRI to increase yields while decreasing inputs, particularly of fertilizers, seed and water. Sy, who is also Senegal’s National Facilitator for the regional WAAPP SRI project, said that funds for the project would come from a 150m CFA ($285,000) grant that had been approved by the national agricultural food research fund (FNRAA), through the WAAPP.

Articles from the Senegalese news service Agence de Presse Sénégalaise about ANCAR’s announcement are available here and here.

SRI West Africa Sends Delegation to Asia

A delegation from the SRI West Africa project of the WAAPP traveled to Asia at the end of October to partake in a series of workshops, field visits, and the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC 2014) – the largest worldwide gathering devoted solely to rice production.

Hosted every four years by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the focus of IRC 2014 was largely on scientific research, with talks and poster presentations from hundreds of delegates representing all parts of the rice producing world. While research and industry were most prominent throughout the congress, farmers organizations were present as well, including representatives of West Africa’s ROPPA. This iteration of the IRC was held in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Regional Coordination Unit presented a poster on the WAAPP’s SRI project, and participants from the project included Gaoussou Traoré (Regional Coordinator, CNS-Riz), Minamba Bagayoko (CNZ-Riz), Erika Styger (SRI-Rice) and Devon Jenkins (SRI-Rice), . Two workshops were held in conjunction with the IRC: a pre-congress workshop on international collaboration to advance SRI (co-sponsored by Oxfam International and Cornell University’s SRI-Rice Center), and a post-congress workshop covering SRI mechanization around the world (co-sponsored by the Asia Institute of Technology and SRI-Rice). The mechanization workshop included a field visit to the Thai Weekend Farmers’ Network to see their innovative mechanization and transplanting approaches to SRI, including ‘dart’ transplanting.

Participating in various parts of the trip were Dr. Gaoussou Traoré, Dr. Erika Styger, Dr. Minamba Bagayoko, Ousmane Djiré, and Devon Jenkins. After the workshops some members of the West Africa SRI contingent visited SRI project sites in India while another visited project sites in Thailand.

Images from the two workshops and the IRC:

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Participants in a breakout discussion during the pre-congress workshop.

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Gaoussou Traoré, the project’s Regional Coordinator, enjoying a performance of traditional Thai dancers at the International Rice Congress.

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Congress attendees coming by the SRI booth at IRC 2014.

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A roller demonstration during a field visit to the Thai Weekend Farmer’s Network on the second day of the mechanization workshop.

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Mechanization workshop participants trying out a labor saving innovation called ‘dart’ transplanting.

SRI farmers in India met during a visit by Dr. Erika Styger and Dr. Gaoussou Traoré.

SRI farmers in India met during a visit by Dr. Erika Styger and Dr. Gaoussou Traoré.

Training of Trainers and Technical Workshop wraps up in Kpalimé, Togo

From August 4th to August 10th project participants from around the region came to Kpalimé, Togo, for the first in-depth training of trainers and technical exchange.

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Participants from the Gambia work on their national SRI map.

Split into two groups – one francophone, one anglophone – the workshop aimed to foster stronger regional connections, knowledge sharing, and to deepen technical capacity and knowledge in each country.

  • Field visits to see local SRI plots and a lowland rainfed management project promoted by AfricaRice
  • Identification of mechanization constraints and opportunities, and creation of a regional mechanization roadmap
  • Sharing of pedagogical best practices
  • Development of new communications tools
  • Establishment of a common technical knowledge and understanding of SRI principles across different agroecosystems and rice production systems
  • Preparation of national SRI maps, detailing project activities and proposed project target zones
  • Updating of annual country plans

More information on the workshop will be available in the report, which will be posted shortly on the Project Documents page.