TANZANIA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through funding from the European Union (EU), has embarked on training farmers on the system of rice intensification technology (SRI) in an effort to improve their yields and incomes.
IPP Media reports that FAO has earmarked farmers in the Morogoro and Mbeya regions by equipping them with skills and knowledge of SRI technology in a bid to cut input costs while increasing output.
According to reports, farmers spend a lot of money on modern farming inputs with hopes of doubling harvests but mostly end up counting losses due to poor yields.
The system of rice intensification technology (SRI) that is being promoted by FAO is a rice farming method that uses less water and fewer seeds while adhering to best agricultural practices
The system results in timely ploughing and transplanting of seedlings within eight to 12 days from the nursery, enabling the farmer to achieve a higher yield than traditional farming.
Through the implementation of a five-year project titled “Multilateral Environmental Agreements in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Countries – Phase III (ACP MEAs 3),” FAO aims to promote environmental sustainability integrated approaches to address national biodiversity-related priorities and commitments in agriculture, as well as the restoration of degraded ecosystems.
As a learning approach, the project will employ Farmer Field Schools with farmer groups to demonstrate SRI farming technology and good agricultural practices.
In Tanzania, rice is one of the main foods and cash crops cultivated by both medium and small-scale farmers.
Recently, Tanzanian rice growers received special training from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) aimed at equipping them with technical skills to boost rice production as the country strives to achieve self-sufficiency in food and commercial crops.
This was in response to the government’s initiative to support irrigation schemes in the Southern Highlands which has motivated more farmers to restore the area harvested to 1.1 million hectares.
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the paddy crop is expected to rise by 9% year-on-year to 2.4 million MT as the area harvested returns to historical levels after declining in MY 2022/23.
Moreover, FAO reveals that the SRI farming technology has attracted many unemployed women and the youth, as well as those who have migrated to urban centers and major cities, back into agriculture.
Diomedes Kalisa, FAO Programme Officer and ACP MEAs 3 Project Coordinator stated that several efforts are being implemented to support rice farmers to change from traditional farming that affects their progress.
“With the SRI farming technology, many farmers have been able to increase their rice production from one acre to more than two acres in a single agricultural season, demonstrating greater resilience to climate change shocks than they would have with traditional farming methods,” said Kalisa
He also revealed that through the initiative, FAO has trained several farmers on SRI farming technology, which provides benefits even after being hit with harsh weather conditions.
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