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Lack of rains

August 13, 2013

Development activities are in progress and the rice producers are determined to expand their cultivated area. However, throughout both countries farmers are inhibited by the lack of rains this year. Whereas June and July are usually the wettest months, this year a very limited number of rainfall events was recorded. It is expected that this will have significant impact on the rice yields this year.

rainfall

In the site Zoungo, close to Ouinhi in southern Benin, the farmers decided to expand their area significantly. In the 2012 campaign more than 11 ha were newly developed in the inland valley neighbouring the village. This year, the total rice cultivated area may have doubled. The pictures below give an impression of the 2013 expansion.

Capacity building of students

May 11, 2013

Since the start of SMART-IV in 2009 many students have conducted research in the framework of the project. MSc students from Japan, Germany, Togo and Benin were trained and supervised by project members. Two students have submitted their thesis this year.

Mr André Kindjinou from Benin worked on mapping of inland valleys in Togo and assessing the agricultural intensity with the use of satellite remote sensing.

Mr Bjorn Nikolaus from Kiel, Germany worked on the calibration of the AquaCrop model for rice. He used the experimental data set of the Bamé experiment to make runs for various seasons.

Both MSc theses can be downloaded from the documents page.

The SMART-IV project finances one PhD research. A collaboration was set up with Bonn Universiy in Germany and last year Mr Alexandre Danvi from Benin was selected. His research will focus on mapping the the hydrology and water quality in inland valleys systems under different levels of agricultural intensification. For this purpose he selected three inland valleys around Djougou, central Benin that will be equipped with equipment to obtain detailed information on the water balance. The inland valleys vary from intensively used (one rice seasons followed by vegetables), normally used (one rice season) and extensively used (dominant natural vegetation). From May 2-4, 2013 Prof Bernd Diekkrüger of Bonn University visited the research areas. Some impresisons of the field visit are shown below.

Drs Tanaka and Masiyandima join the SMART-IV project team

March 23, 2013

Since the beginning of 2013 the SMART-IV project has been strengthened with two new researchers, Dr Atstuko Tanaka from Japan and Dr Mutsa Masiyandima from Zimbabwe.

Dr Masiyandima, a water resources researcher, holds her PhD from Cornell University in 2002 and worked thereafter for the International Water Management Insitute (IWMI) in Pretoria, South Africa. In 2000 she conducted part of her field work for her PhD at the AfricaRice station in Bouaké, Cote d’Ivoire. At IWMI she lead projects and work packages related to water resources, water productivity assessment and food security. For the SMART-IV project she will work on modelling water resources and evaluating scenarios at catchment and national level with the purpose to evaluate the impact of Sawah System Development on water resources (quantity and quality) and food security.

Dr Tanaka obtained her doctoral degree from the University of Tokyo in 2012. For thesis research she spend 2 months in Benin at AfricaRice with a Japan-CGIAR fellowship. Her field of expertise is soil fertility in rice-based systems. In the context of the SMART-IV projects she will assess sustainable fertilization options for farmers and she will be working of the validation of the nutrient manager in both target countries in Togo and Benin.

Results development activities 2012 in Togo and Benin

February 2, 2013

Click here for a Japanese summary.

The development activities for the 2012 season started immediately after the mid-term workshop at the end of May, 2012. This was, however, relatively late since certain farmers had already started. The development activities included validating of the new sites by the field technicians involved in the project, creating interest and involvement of farmers, participatory development of an implementation plan, execution of the development plan by the farmers, and supervision of field activities throughout the season. Essential in the SSD process are the mobilization and involvement of the farmers in the realization of the field activities.

In total 21.2 ha in Benin and 9.5 ha were developed in 2012 using the straightforward and participatory Sawah System Development approach. The developments took place in 5 SSD sites in Benin and 7 in Togo. In total 269 farmers participated in the development of the sites of which 177 were male and 92 female. The average yields in the sites varied from 2 to 5 tonnes/ha.  The results are summarized in the two tables below.

SSD sites in TOGO

acreage

(ha)

average yield

(tonnes/ha)

farmers involved

male

female

total

Tutu

2.0

3

11

6

17

Sodo

2.0

3.5

8

7

15

Bémé2

1.7

2.5

12

10

22

Tchanganidè

0.9

5

7

8

15

Kawa

0.8

5

14

8

22

Gnatre

0.8

5

13

3

16

Atchangbadè

1.3

4

9

6

15

Total

9.5

74

48

122

SSD Sites in BENIN

acreage

(ha)

average yield

(tonnes/ha)

farmers involved

male

female

total

Zoungo

11.6

4

46

15

61

Agosou

5.7

5

16

8

24

Kpakapza

1.8

3

2

14

16

Todjotin

1.4

2

9

7

16

Korobororou

0.7

30

0

30

Total

21.2

103

44

147

In 2012 two trainings were organized from on the topic of site selection for SSD and validation. One was held in Togo in October, and one in January in Benin. In Togo a total of 24 participants from ITRA (national agricultural research institute of Togo), ICAT (agricultural extension agency of Togo) and ETD (NGO for agricultural development in Togo and Benin) were trained, whereas in Benin 10 people from CBF (inland valley development cell of the Ministry of Agriculture) and CeCPA (national agricultural extension agency) participated. In Togo, also members from a large national agricultural project (PADAT) joined as observer in the training. Both trainings took one week of which one day theory, 3 days of field visits, observation, exercises and discussion, and one final day for discussion on the criteria of suitable inland valleys.

The perspectives for the 2013 season are positive. First of all lessons have been learned from the 2012 campaign and recommendations by the SSD expert will be incorporated. Secondly, many problems encountered in SSD in 2012 were attributed due to a late start of the activites. This year activities will be well prepared and commence earlier. Thirdly, field technicians from various organizations have been trained in suitable site selection for SSD and in participatory implementation of SSD (inlcuding good agricultural practice and powertiller usage). Fourthly, site validation and farmers organization will take place well before the start of SSD. Fifthly, existing SSD sites have received great interest from rice farmers in surrounding villages. Motivated farmers/villages will be selected for SSD. Finally, the national partner organizations are well prepared and organizational issues during the 2012 campaign have been solved. The goals have been set at 50 ha under SSD in each country and given the existing organizational status we are confident to achieve these goals.

Using the following documents for an impression of the development activities at all sites in Togo and Benin:

development pictures TOGO – 2012 season

development pictures BENIN – 2012 season

Location of the SSD demonstration sites in Togo and Benin (2012)

October 11, 2012

The current status of SSD: 6.6 ha developed in seven locations in Togo and 22.5 ha in seven inland valleys in Benin.

Dr Worou Soklou appointed as regional coordinator development

September 5, 2012

As of September 1, 2012 Dr Worou Soklou, a national from Togo, is appointed by AfricaRice to coordinate the development activities in the SMART-IV project. Dr Soklou  has a long-term experience in inland valley development. While employed by ITRA he was the national coordinator of the Inland Valley Consortium. After retiring from the institute, Soklou continued working on inland valley development projects in Togo. In recent years Soklou developed a participatory development approach in which design of a system and the implementation are carried out by the farmers. Only limited technical support is provided giving farmer full ownership of their developments.

Development activities taking off in Benin and Togo

August 23, 2012

Since the wet season 2012 the Sawah System Development activities are taking off in Benin and Togo. The national partners CBF and ITRA develop SSD demonstration sites in a total of 14 locations. Both in Togo and Benin there are 7 locations across several agro-climatic zones. The design of the system and the implementation are entirely conducted in a participatory manner.

Sites have been selected and validated in April / May and with the start of the rainy season farmers have started developments. In the first year of the project, farmers are provided with seeds and fertilizers. In most locations, farmers are hesitant to develop large areas since they first want to witness the benefits of SSD.

The development activities are linked to the national extension services in Benin (CeCPA) and Togo (ICAT) to assure that farmers are linked to market for inputs for rice production and for selling their harvest. AfricaRice is conducting research on effective transfer mechanisms for knowledge and on improving market access for rice farmers.

The pictures below provide an impression of the activities and developments in the SSD demonstration sites in the recent months.

Mid-term project workshop – day 3

May 23, 2012

The morning session of the project was dedicated to four presentations providing updates on the research components in the project.

The research session was opened by Dr. Abe who presented his results on soil fertility and agronomy in Nigeria and Benin. Several pot experiments were conducted to assess the positive effect of silicon on crop production. Experimental results indicated that this essential element contributes to continued crop growth, also under water stress. Also different rice production systems in Nigeria were assessed. A large scale survey revealed that Sawah systems generated more income than traditional systems, though there was no significant difference in crop yield in comparison to the Togogi/kokuru system.

Dr Zwart presented the results of a new methodology that was developed together with Dr Linsoussi to map inland valleys on national scale using remote sensing images. The method has been applied and first validation results show that inland valleys are generally well mapped though model improvements must be made to map the first order inland valleys. “The next step will be to provide an estimate for the potential for development using biophysical and socio-economic data”, outlined Zwart.

Dr Kizito of the International Water Management Institute in Ghana presented the approach, methodology and models to assess the impact of Sawah System Development and rice intensification on the river catchment scale. Any intervention creates an impact on the water resources in terms of quality and quantity. Using hydrological model such as SWAT, scenarios regarding expansion of rice areas and the introduction of irrigation can be assessed. Such data will feed into the model WEAP, explained Kizito, which allows to analyse the impact of such changes on the water allocation between agriculture and the other water users in a catchment. Data availability will be a major issue for both Benin and Togo.

Finally, Dr Arouna, who joined AfricaRice only since 3 months, presented his work plans for the coming two and half years regarding socio-economic research. It will be essential to get a clear picture soon of the selected development sites in order to start baseline surveys. The adoption process will be analysed, possibly with data from Ghana and/or Nigeria where Sawah System Development was initiated in the 90’s. Finally, the market access for farmers will be investigated. This is expected to be an essential element in the adoption process of SSD.

Mid-term project workshop – day 2

May 22, 2012

On the second day of the workshop a terrain visit was made to Bamé and Kaffa-Ouinhi. The gallery below provides a visual presentation of the day.

The SMART-IV project team

May 21, 2012

Maléki Badjana, Shin Abe, Felix Gbaguidi, Tossimide Houngbedji, Fred Kizito, Takanobu Kobayashi, Worou Soklou, Hiroaki Shimokawa, Koichi Futakuchi, Sander Zwart, Björn Nikolaus, Aminou Arouna, Alexandre Danvi, Gertrude Tongite, Moro Buri