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SMART-IV presented at the Africa Rice Congress 2013 in Yaounde

October 29, 2013

From October 21 to 24, 2013 thee Africa Rice Congress was held in Yaounde, Cameroon. Dr Sander Zwarrt was invited to present the results of the SMART-IV project and in specific the particiaptory development approach that is being developed and tested. The presentation, which was attended by over 100 participants of the congress, can be watched below:

 

Dr Mutsa Masyiyandima presented a poster on the assessment of available water resources entitled: “Assessing water resources potential for increasing rice production in the Ouémé River basin, Benin”.

poster Masiyandima ARC2013

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SMART-IV demonstration sites and trainings created impact in 2013!

October 12, 2013

Despite the lack of rains early in the season, farmers have continued there rice activities in most sites. Unfortunately, in some cases rice was abandoned or farmers continued at a smaller scale than foreseen. In both countries approaximately 40 ha is now cultivated in both the demonstration sites and the adoption sites. The figure below provides more details. In both countries, the project is active in three regions. And in each of the regions several demonstration sites have been set up. In Benin the sites are larger in area, but there are less in total, whereas the sites in Togo are often much smaller, but they are more numerous.

The demonstration sites are now creating impact, already in the second year of the project. In Benin one site is now under Sawah System Development and it was developed by farmers solely without outside technical support. In Togo several of such sites have been observed in the Kpalime region, but not all of them have yet been identified. In the trainings given in Togo there was participation from field technicians of the NGOs ETD and GRED. They have now developed several sites in the central and outhern regions with limited technical support from the SMART-IV project. These sites have been inventoried and were added to the map.

ssd activities 2013

These results are preliminary and more details on farmer participation and areas will be provided in due course!

Farmers test and select mechanic weeders in Togo

September 22, 2013

A major constraint for rice farmers in Africa is the presence of weeds. Weeds can cause significantly yield losses (even up to 100%) and removal is costly. Certain farmers apply herbicides before the start of the cultivation, but very often weeding is done by hand and often it’s women performing this task. The SMART-IV project has moved into a second phase after the successful start of development activities. In the demonstration sites new tools and agricultural techniques will be tested in a participatory manner. If necessary tools will be adapted to local conditions and once found suitable they can be introduced at larger scale.

Dr Atsuko Tanaka recently conducted a participatory on-site evaluation of mechanic weeders in two demonstration sites (Kemelida and Gnatre) in central Togo. The same trials will later be conducted in sites around Ouinhi, Benin. A total of 6 different weeders were tested in different conditions and thereafter each of the farmers rated the suitability of each.

Due to the shortage of rainfall, most of the fields were dry at the time of mechanical weeder evaluation. In Gnatre, evaluation was conducted on dry field and field with ponding water. In Gnatre, 10 farmers and 11 farmers participated in mechanical weeder evaluation for dry soil condition and ponding water condition, respectively. Kemelida, only dry soil condition was found for trial in which 12 farmers participated. On dry soil, ring hoe (Fig. 5) was most preferred. Out of 22 farmers, 73% farmers (16) chose ring hoe as their most preferred weeder.

The reason why the farmers preferred ring hoe was because of no need to bend their back for weeding, no back pain and quickness in operation. The least favoured weeder on dry soil was cono weeder because soil being entangled with nails and slowness in operation. For wet soil, on the other hand, cono weeder was most preferred followed by ring hoe. The major reason for preferring cono weeder was high operation efficiency in water.

Further on-site participatory testing will be conducted this season so that for the next SSD season (2014) the ring hoe weeder can be introduced at larger scale.

ring hoe weeder

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