WHERE WE WORK
Start Year: 1996
End Year: 2004
Country Program Director/Coordinator: Dr Tareke Berhe
History and Primary Activities:
The SG 2000 Guinea Program was conducted in collaboration with the Guinean Ministry of Agriculture, working with SNPRV, Guinea’s national extension service. Rice, the staple food, was the principal crop focus in the field demonstrations. Alarmed by rising rice imports, which exceeded 200,000 tons in 1996 and was consuming large amounts of foreign exchange, the government had launched an accelerated rice production campaign, and asked SG 2000-Guinea to assist in field demonstrations and in seed production.
The SG 2000 Guinea Program objectives were to:
- Increase food production through the use of improved agricultural technologies;
- Improve fallow land through the use of Mucuna;
- Introduce improved rice threshing methods and maize shelling techniques, as well as improved storage facilities;
- Target women’s groups for improved agricultural activities; and
- Strengthen the capacity of relevant national institutions.
Farmers and extension staff were trained in scientific methods of growing food crops, built around 0.5 hectare Production Test Plots (PTPs), mostly sown to rice but also maize, sorghum, soybeans, fonio, and, in some places the green manure crop, Mucuna. During 1996, some 50 production test plots (PTPs) were established with farmers in one region. The Program grew rapidly. By 2000, it covered 17 districts and included over 3,900 PTPs, half of which were planted to rice. Given Guinea’s serious soil fertility problems and scant use of manufactured fertilizers, many of the PTPs were grown in combination with Mucuna as a relay crop. From this modest beginning, the field program steadily expanded over the years, reaching 10,000 plots in 2003 and more than 13,000 farmers in six regions. In total, more than 30,000 farmers participated in the program, growing 23,000 demonstration plots over the 8-year period that the field program was active.
Using a multi-crop thresher to process NERICA in Faranah, Guinea
Introducing NERICA and QPM – To give Guinean farmers access to improved upland rice varieties, SG 2000-Guinea and the national extension service multiplied the seed of new African and Asian inter-specific rice varieties developed by the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA). In 2001, about 500 plots of new WARDA rice varieties, referred to as the New Rice for Africa, or "NERICA", were planted.
The quality protein maize (QPM) variety Obatanpa, imported from Ghana, proved a good fit and was widely adopted by Guinean farmers. In PTPs, the yields of Obatanpa averaged 3.0 t/ha, compared with the national average maize variety yields of 1.0 t/ha. To handle larger harvests, farmers were trained in how to construct narrow cribs for improved post-harvest grain storage.
Involving women farmers – Women predominate in all aspects of Guinean agriculture, from land clearing through marketing and processing, so SG 2000-Guinea started working with 200 women in five groups, supplying needed inputs and credit. They grew vegetable crops, maize and soybeans. Between 1997 and 2001, over 1,900 women were trained to produce Mucuna bean recipes.
During 1998, the program expanded into 6 regions and 27 districts. Over 80 tons of fertilizer and 20 tons of improved seed were distributed through the field demonstration program, and PTP input credit accounts were opened in the six regions. QPM was being popularized in nutritional training for women at the village level, and talks were also underway with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in order to link poultry and small ruminant producers with QPM growers. QPM was being grown on 10,000 hectares by the end of the program.
Beginning in 2002, SG 2000-Guinea successfully consolidated the positive results achieved during the previous five years and further integrated Program activities within national organizations and other NGOs. Capacity building was an indispensable part of the SG 2000 Guinea Program. Training and technical support, allied to strengthening the necessary agricultural institutions, were seen as essential to transferring the ownership of SG 2000-Guinea to Guineans. Close cooperation was developed with extension and research in four of the country’s research centers, three schools of agriculture, and with the University of Faranah, Guinea’s leading agricultural University. These integration and capacity building efforts helped ensure that key activities were continued once SG 2000-Guinea was brought to a close
WARDA scientists had persuaded President Conté that Guinea could achieve substantial production increases in rainfed (upland) rice production through the introduction of the new African x Asian rice varieties (NERICAs) that it had developed. Rice imports were increasing in Guinea, requiring that the country use increasing amounts of scarce foreign exchange reserves to assure sufficient quantities of its preferred food were available. The government set out to reverse these import trends. WARDA provided substantial quantities of foundation seed of several NERICA varieties that had been tested by the national research organization and shown to be well adapted to Guinean upland rice production conditions and acceptable to consumers.
Participants at the International Year of Rice celebrations included Yoshio Yatsu, former Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Dr Fujimura, UNDP New York, and Jean Paul Saar, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Guinea
The government’s MOA organized an extension campaign to promote them, and SG 2000-Guinea played a key role in this campaign. By 2003, smallholder farmers were planting some 60,000 hectares of NERICA. Rice production increased by about 250,000 tons from 1996 to 2003. Prior to 1995, Guinea had been importing around 300,000 t/yr, but improved agricultural programs led to a progressive decline in imports – down to 200,000 tons in 1997 and 150,000 tons in 1998. This reduction was a considerable achievement, especially given the serious refugee problems at that time. The encouraging downward trend of rice imports into Guinea was dramatically reversed in 2001, with imports reaching 283,000 tons. The reversal reflected the growing pressures in Guinea, including border instability with Liberia and Sierra Leone resulting in the displacement of thousands of farmers and the abandonment of their farms. National disasters also had an impact, including the serious flooding in Kankan region. The SG 2000-supported MOA campaign in rice continued, with imports dropping below 100,000 tons in 2004, at the end of the SG 2000 Program.
In maize, little sustained production impact was achieved from 1997-2003, even though improved varieties were introduced and considerable training in crop management was provided.