Rice productivity improvement in Panama: use of SICA
Rice is the most consumed food in Panama, occupies the first place in planted area and is the main source of income for more than 3,000 farmers. In 2018, it was declared the first food security crop, establishing policies and actions to promote its cultivation. However, production has diminished in recent years affecting national supply. In 2017, 18% of national demand was covered by imports, and this amount is projected to increase by 4% by 2020. Among the main problems of the crop are low productivity and high production costs, so Panamanian rice is not very competitive compared to imported ones. Climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of droughts and affect yields nationwide. Family farmers represent two thirds of the total and are the most vulnerable. IDIAP and other organizations have implemented actions to improve productivity, such as the use of the Intensive Rice Cultivation System (SICA for its Spanish acronym), a methodology that is based on the integrated management of soil, water, plant and nutrients. SICA has been validated in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, obtaining increases of 20% to 100% in yield, up to 90% in seed savings and 50% in water use. IDIAP requested the support of FONTAGRO to develop an action plan to guide and facilitate the validation and scaling-up of SICA in priority areas of Panama. The study was co-financed by the GEF and FONTAGRO, and executed by the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), with the collaboration of IDIAP and the participation of other organizations.
• SICA increased the yield of small producers from an average of 24 qq / ha with traditional dry land systems to 126 quintals per hectare and also offers the possibility of producing an additional cycle in the year. • When comparing SICA with a traditional system of puddling under irrigation, no significant differences in yield were found, nor a reduction in production costs. • SICA + was proposed, a modified system that incorporates changes in planting date, type of germplasm, fertilization, water management and mechanization. • It is feasible to scale up SICA + at the level of small producers with access to irrigation, but technical and economic challenges were found in analyzing the feasibility of implementing SICA with larger-scale producers. • Systems were recommended for technical management and conversion of rainfed to irrigation. • The implementation of these systems is sustainable over time. Over the next five years, an increase in the demand for rice at the national level of 9% is projected. An increase in the performance of current production systems may cover the supply of rice nationwide. • The marketing of special, organic, “fututeado” (toasted and hulled) and parboiled (partially boiled) rice are alternatives to get better prices for SICA products. However, it would be necessary to develop strategies so that small-scale producers can access them.
The potential beneficiaries of the use of the modified SICA could be the more than 2000 family farmers who produce rice in Panama, in addition to an undetermined number of large producers that could use components of the improved system.
Sustainable Development Goals
- FLAR - Colombia
- International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) - Colombia
- Instituto de Innovación Agropecuaria de Panamá (IDIAP) - Panamá