The System of Rice Intensification as a Sustainable Agricultural Innovation: Introducing, Adapting and Scaling Up a System of Rice Intensification Practices in the Timbuktu Region of Mali


Styger, E., Aboubacrine, G., Attaher, M. A., & Uphoff, N. (2011). The system of rice intensification as a sustainable agricultural innovation: introducing, adapting and scaling up a system of rice intensification practices in the Timbuktu region of Mali. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 9(1), 67-75.


The system of rice intensification (SRI) originated in Madagascar in the early 1980s and has spread today to 40 countries worldwide. SRI increases rice yields significantly while reducing requirements of seeds, water and chemical inputs. SRI is a planting method based on the principles of using single, young transplants at wide spacing, the application of compost, mechanical weed control and intermittent irrigation. Over a three-year period the American NGO Africare has successfully introduced, adapted and started scaling up SRI in the Timbuktu region of Mali. The implementation processes and approaches changed with each year and depended on (i) the technical adaptation of SRI practices to the Timbuktu environment, (ii) farmers’ and technicians’ know-how of the SRI technical requirements, (iii) collaboration with the government extension and research agencies and (iv) the funding level. The number of SRI farmers evolved from 1 to 66 to 450 farmers from year 1 to 3. All SRI farmers were volunteers, most of them achieving highly superior yields and income compared to their current system. SRI practices have induced a dramatic shift in the perception and understanding of how to achieve sustainable and productive rice cropping systems, stimulating farmers and technicians to initiate a series of innovations inspired by the SRI system.

Keywords: adaptation of technology, adoption of technology, extension approach, farmer-centred learning, innovation development

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