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Summary of SRI in Kenya

On August 18, 2009, a meeting of stakeholders was held at the headquarters of the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, located in the Kirinyaga district of the Central Province, to formally launch the evaluation and demonstration of SRI in Kenya. The meeting was organized by Bancy Mati, program manager of the IMAWESA Network (for Improved Management of Agricultural Water in Eastern and Southern Africa), and Jean Njiru, former Humphrey Fellow at Cornell who has now returned to Kenya and is helping get SRI introduced in her country, with assistance from Markus Wolfe, irrigation specialist in the World Bank office in Nairobi.

The initiative to evaluate and promote the adoption of SRI in Kenya began as a multi-stakeholder, participatory 'project' combining research, capacity-building and outreach activities. Spearheaded by IMAWESA, the partners include the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD), the World Bank and World Bank Institute (WBI), the Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development (MIAD) Centre, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the National Irrigation Board (NIB), the Ministries of Agriculture and of Water and Irrigation (MWI), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, the private sector, and the farmers themselves.

The World Bank Institute organized a videoconference on September 11, 2009, that enabled the experimenting Kenyan farmers to interact with persons in other African countries and India who have considerable personal experience with SRI crop and water management to be able to advise on best SRI practice. A subsequent Stakeholders' Meeting on the System for Rice Intensification was held January 27, 2010, at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) complex at Girgiri, Nairobi. Later that year, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through its Research, Production and Extension's Innovation Fund, began supporting a three-year SRI research and capacity-building at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme. The First National SRI Workshop was held May 7, 2010. In July 2010 an SRI Resource Center was opened at MIAD in Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga District in Kenya's Central Province. The National Irrigation Board (NIB) and JKUAT began implementing a six-month project in July 2011 to scale-up SRI in the Ahero, West Kano, Bunyala and Mwea Irrigation Schemes. The World Bank Institute organized an SRI study tour to several SRI projects in India for 18 African officials and project staff from six countries during June 2010. Kenyans participated in a third WBI videoconference on climate-smart agriculture August 24, 2011.

By 2012, approximately 3,000 farmers have been trained in SRI methods with adopters now numbering about 2,000 in the four irrigation schemes (Ahero, West Kano, Bunyala and Mwea). Bancy Mati reported yields up to 9 t/ha have been achieved with Basmati rice and over 17t/ha for a high-yielding IR variety; water savings ranged from 25-33%, depending upon the season. An article published in the March 2012 edition of the International Journal of Current Research and Review showed water productivity (kilograms of rice per cubic meter of irrigation water supplied) averaging 120% higher for the three varieties under SRI management. A subsequent 2013 Agricultural Water Management article studying adoption and economic return with SRI compared to farmer practice found that showed a SRI benefit-cost ratio of 1.76 and 1.88 in the first and second seasons, respectively, compared to 1.3 and 1.35 for farmer practice. A film about SRI in Kenya won first prize on July 20, 2013, at the 2nd African Agricultural Film Festival in Accra, Ghana; Bancy Mati subsequently showed the film at the 2015 COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. A segment on SRI aired on the widely-viewed Kenyan TV show, Shamba Shape-Up, during 2013, which reached a wide audience in Eastern Africa. During November 2014, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) launched two AICAD-sponsored SRI projects in the in Mwea and Western Kenya irrigation schemes. During 2015-2019, Bancy Mati made presentations on SRI at the COP21 (France, 2015), at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, 2018), at the Workshop to Enhance Cooperation and Sharing among SRI National Networks in Asia, (Malaysia, 2018), Workshop for the Project on Sustaining and Enhancing the Momentum for Innovation and Learning on SRI in the Lower Mekong River Basin (SRI-LMB), Thailand (Nov 2018); and at the International Rice Development Conference on China-Africa Rice Development (Changsha, China, 2019). The details are in the "progress and activities" section below.

A 2020 article by Too et all in the African Environmental Review showed that, compared to conventional rice production methods, SRI treatments undertaken in Ahero Irrigation Scheme resulted in Irrigation Water Use (IWU) saving of 21.9%, Water Productivity (WP) increase by 67%, and Land Productivity (LP) increase by 59.5%. During 2020 and 2021, research was conducted to understand factors that affect rice productivity in Mwea Irrigation Schemes; this study also showed that the returns of SRI outweigh the returns of conventional rice farming, thus making SRI more profitable. A subsequent study by Bancy Mati et al elaborated on the benefits of SRI in Kenya's five irrigations schemes (Mwea, Ahero, Budalangi, West Kano and South West Kano). A 2021 dissertation and article by Matilda Ouma found that integration of SRI through IP approach was effective among smallholder rice farmers in Oluch irrigation scheme. A project supporting digital training on SRI for the Mwea, Ahero and West Kano irrigation scheme was initiated in January 2022. A PLOS One article published in 2024 revealed that the uptake of specific SRI practices in the Oluch Irrigation Scheme over a four-year period (2016-2019) increased by at least 30–80%, and acreage under rice farming increased by 50%. Although SRI required more production costs per acre (63% increase), adopters had at least 28.6% higher return per shilling invested.

Progress and Activities

2024 Updates
FOR 2009 -2011 SRI ACTIVITIES, see SRI Kenya Archives

Reports and General Articles

Research and Scholarly Papers (in chronological order of receipt)

Conferences and Meetings (incomplete after 2010)

Practical Information

PowerPoint Presentations


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