Opportunities for support to system of rice intensification in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.

Published online
03 Feb 2016
Content type

Aune, J. B. & Sekhar, N. U. & Esser, K. & Tesfai, M.

Publication language
Malawi & Tanzania & Africa South of Sahara & Zambia


There is a great potential for increasing the production of rice in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi. Many of the constraints on rice production are similar for the three countries. Common problems are low quality of seeds, lack of access to inputs, poorly functioning irrigation schemes, poor soil fertility management, weed infestation, low yields and low technical capacity. When System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was compared to traditional rice cultivation more than a doubling of yield is often found. However, these yield increases in the ongoing schemes are not necessarily only attributable to the SRI principles, but rather because of improved management practices like improved seed and better fertilization and weed control. The current socio-economic conditions for intensifying rice are also not very favourable as there is limited access to credit, limited availability of fertilizer, fluctuating prices and poor market access. SRI is relatively more developed in Tanzania and Malawi than in Zambia but, in general, it is found on a very limited scale. There is no special policy to promote SRI in any of the countries. In Tanzania, SRI is being promoted under the "Big Result Now" program. Major obstacles to SRI introduction are the poor condition of the irrigation schemes; lack of good quality seeds and fertilisers, hand-pushed rotary weeders, lack of technical capacity on SRI, lack of proper levelling of the fields, lack of assured marketing, and instability of rice prices. Work is already underway in Tanzania (BRN program) and Malawi to promote SRI in selected locations. We recommend a broad based support to rice producing where SRI can be one of the components. Apart from SRI such a program will need to address the quality of the irrigation schemes, the competence of farmers and extension agents on rice production, input for rice production, infrastructure and marketing issues. If Norway is to support SRI in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia it would make most sense to link with the on-going initiatives that promote rice intensification in the countries. In Tanzania one option is to link with the "Big Results Now" program as this program focuses on rehabilitation of irrigations schemes and promotion of good agronomic practices in rice cultivation including SRI. In Malawi the entry point could be in the four irrigation schemes that have been rehabilitated so far under the Irrigation Rural Agricultural Development Project (IRLADP) supported by the World Bank (2011-2014). There is also a general need to strengthen the competence on SRI in the education sector as well as in the extension system. Establishment of SRI demonstration plots could be one way to create an interest in SRI. Upland rice is more important than lowland rice (irrigated) particularly in Tanzania. If rice is to be promoted attention should also be given to upland rice. It probably requires less capital to intensify this form of rice production as there will be no need to rehabilitate the irrigation schemes.

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