Senegal relies on rice imports. Can a farming method change that?

Farmers work in a rice field in this illustration for the Context series Rerooted. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Rice is a staple grain for half of humanity, but in places like Senegal farmers can’t grow enough of it. When the global rice supply is hit by crisis - from climate change impacts and conflict to trade restrictions - Senegal feels the pain. Despite the government’s efforts to ramp up domestic rice production, most Senegalese still prefer imported rice for making the national dish of thieboudienne. 

In comes a farming technique called System of Rice Intensification (SRI), introduced in the 1980s in Madagascar. It’s a set of principles that promises to reduce costs, water use, and methane emissions, all while boosting yields. Now, thousands of Senegalese farmers are putting it into practice. 

So is SRI the answer to achieving rice independence for Senegal? We travelled to the West African nation to find out.

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