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Sierra Leone News: WAAPP Sierra Leone on Sub-Regional SRI Champions Experience Sharing in Liberia

wappAnglophone countries in the West African Sub-region are on a three day experience sharing seminar on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) at the Balla Casa hotel in Monrovia, Liberia.
The seminar which started on the 22nd is attended by representatives from West Africa Agriculture Productivity Programme (WAAPP) implementing countries, local SRI champions and focal research scientists on SRI. Due to the tremendous outcomes on Liberia’s implementation of the method, it was seen as fitting by member countries to converge in Monrovia to share national experiences as well as learning from Liberia who has maximized the potentials in the method.
The meeting is also meant to strengthen regional cooperation and experience sharing among WAAPP implementing countries in their effort to scale up the SRI planting method in West Africa.
Speaking at the opening of the seminar, Liberia’s project coordinator for WAAPP Cyrus Saygbe Sr. welcomed participants to Liberia and expressed delight to share Liberia’s experience with other countries. The SRI method he said will help increase productivity in the sub-region and contribute in reducing poverty.
SRI regional Coordinator of CNS-RIZ, Dr. Gaossou Traore stated the advantages of the SRI approach which he said started some years back. The method he went on has lifted Mali, a semi desert country into a champion of rice production that accounts for huge quantities of rice produced in the country. Through irrigation from the Niger rive, the SRI method of rice cultivation has placed Mali high in the list of rice production in West Africa. “There is need for the Method to be scaled up in other countries currently implementing it so that farmers will realize the benefits in it” he said.
While declaring the program formerly opened, Liberian Chairperson, House of representative committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hon. Fofi Baimba expressed frustration of the fact that Liberia boasts of all the needed conditions for large scale rice production but still depends on rice from Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Vietnam and Indonesia. Liberia, he reveals, spends $ US 200 million on rice importation every year. This amounts he said, make up for 30 % of his country’s annual budget. “It is an error that must be corrected at all cost and if the SRI approach can help it would be of great interest” he said.
The System of Rice intensification or SRI is an agro-ecological approach that allows farmers to increase yields while at the same time decrease inputs such as water, seeds, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. While SRI was initially developed with irrigated rice, it has been adapted to rain fed lowland and upland rice systems, as well as to other crops. In West Africa, a 13- country project financed by CORAF/WECARD1 under the WAAPP2 Programme started in 2014 for increased rice productivity and competitiveness: improving the scaling up of SRI in West Africa. It is Coordinated by CNS-RIZ/IER in Mali and backstopped by SRI-Rice at Cornel University.
Thursday June 25, 2015

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