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AKF will train 20,000 smallholder farmers in the Zanatany Rice Permaculture System, expecting rice yield increases of 50 percent or more.

AKDN / Didier Van Bignoot

ZRPS seeks to address the constraints inherent in other rice intensification systems such as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) that cause very high rates of attrition. ZRPS is based on four pillars:

  1. Self-made inputs resulting in a significant cost reduction;
  2. Direct seeding leading to a significant labour reduction (up to 50 percent) coupled with larger, healthier, more drought-tolerant and earlier ripening plants;
  3. Crop rotation and mixed cropping allowing a much longer if not year-round cultivation of rice fields;
  4. Minimal to zero tillage made possible by the accumulation of organic soil cover and biomass crop hedging.

Farmers can gradually adopt the ZRPS pillars at their own pace and implement the system in a much broader range of topographies than SRI. By reducing labour – that is usually assigned to women – and water requirements, ZRPS is both gender-friendly and climate-smart. Since its initial design, the system has provided extremely promising results in terms of productivity, while going through a continuous improvement process from field observations and experiments.

Through SPEEDRICE, AKF will test and adapt ZRPS across various agro-ecological zones of Madagascar, working in the five regions of Sofia, Diana, Sava, Analamanga and Itasy. It will train 20,000 smallholder farmers in ZRPS, expecting an adoption rate of 30 percent and rice yield increases of 50 percent or more.