New system boosts rice farming (Tanzania)

Farmers in the Morogoro region have adopted a new system of growing rice, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which enables them to grow seedlings in a non-flooded nursery. Until recently farmers in this region believed it was impossible to grow rice without flooding the fields. The SRI is weather-friendly as seedlings are grown in and replanted, at a shallow depth of only 1-2cm deep in a paddy field. The plot is then left to dry until cracks become visible, when another thin layer of water is introduced – unlike in the past when large amounts of water were supplied in the field. As the rice seedlings grow, some farmers irrigate every
evening; others leave the fields to dry over a 3-8 day period, depending on soil and climate conditions. With this system farmers have been able to reduce their use of chemical fertilizers and production costs and as a result, their incomes have greatly improved.
Under the project, Strengthening the Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation through Sustainable Land and Water Management, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has trained 268 farmers in multiple skills to prevent soil erosion, reduce deforestation and manage water and soil fertility. FAO representative to Tanzania, Diana Tempelman, said: “We are aiming to work together with local populations in Tanzania who can identify crop varieties suitable for drier circumstances.”
According to the Economics of Climate Change study published in 2011, the country’s average temperature has increased over the past 30 years with rainfall becoming erratic. The government estimates that, without proper adaptation, yields from crops like maize could fall by up to 16% by 2030, which translates into a million tons per year.
– Deutsche Welle