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Opportunities for support to System of Rice Intensification in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi

There is a great potential for increasing the production of rice in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi. Many of the constraints on rice production are similar for the three countries. Common problems are low quality of seeds, lack of access to inputs, poorly functioning irrigation schemes, poor soil fertility management, weed infestation, low yields and low technical capacity. When System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was compared to traditional rice cultivation more than a doubling of yield is often found. However, these yield increases in the ongoing schemes are not necessarily only attributable to the SRI principles, but rather because of improved management practices like improved seed and better fertilization and weed control. The current socio-economic conditions for intensifying rice are also not very favourable as there is limited access to credit, limited availability of fertilizer, fluctuating prices and poor market access.
SRI is relatively more developed in Tanzania and Malawi than in Zambia but, in general, it is found on a very limited scale. There is no special policy to promote SRI in any of the countries. In Tanzania, SRI is being promoted under the “Big Result Now” program.