Strategies for improvements of the Foya pilot scheme  

1. Reduction of water requirements for rice cultivation
The team hoped that the direct sowing of rice seeds would reduce water requirements. Attempts were also made to find improved rice varieties with a shorter growing season with less than 120 days to maturity, the average growing period of IRRI varieties in the 1970s. Unfortunately, none of these strategies was successful. It would take another twenty years before IRRI, the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, would have developed and released rice varieties, with shorter growing periods, higher yield potentials and more efficient water use. In the early 1970s there were no solutions available to improve the situation in the Foya Pilot Rice Development Scheme.

2. The introduction of secondary crops with lower water requirements.
By introducing non rice crops in the dry season the FAO team hoped to increase the cropping intensity of the Foya project, as crop water requirement for dry land field crops is only 30% of that for irrigated rice. Selecting for this purpose crops with a higher per unit value, it was assumed that this could further increase the annual gross return per ha. Based on this hypothesis, an experiment was initiated in the dry season of 1972. Details of this rotation crop experiment are described in section B.1.4 of this introducion including the reasons for the total failure of this experiment.
Strategies for development of new areas outside the Foya Pilot Scheme

3. Small scale swamp development for irrigated rice
Design of low cost methods for small scale irrigated rice development in swamps. This method is discussed in section B.1.3 of this introduction.
The costs for small scale swamp development amounted to US$ 420, of which 80% was for farm labor, which labor could mostly be supplied by the farm families who wished to develop their own swamp land. Cash costs for land development only amounted to $ 85/ha. Average rice yields in these small scale rice schemes was 3500 kg/ha per crop. Assuming two rice crops per year the gross return was US$ 700/ha/year. Recurrent production costs were $ 200/ha/year, again mainly consisting of farm labor. Net return to the farm family was $500/ha/year. The internal rate of return for this development was calculated at 58%, based on the conservative assumption that yields would only reach 3500 kg/ha after 7 year.

4. Improved upland rice production
Designing improved management methods for dry land rice production on uplands. The main aspect of this was the introduction of an improved upland rice variety
and the application of 30kg Nitrogen and 30 kg Phosphor per ha, at a total cost of
US$ 10 per ha. These improved inputs doubled traditional upland rice yields
from 1,000kg/ha to 2 000kg /ha. Tentative data showed that the costs of these
improved inputs, valued at US10 per ha, resulted in a cost benefit ratio of 5.

Conclusion: In trying to find solutions for the problems of the Foya Pilot Rice Development Scheme the FAO team only succeeded in finding solutions for areas outside the main Foya Irrigation Scheme of 280 ha, which areas were not yet developed at that time. No solutions could be found to improve the situation within the existing Foya Irrigation Scheme of 280 ha. Suitable solutions would become only available some twenty years after FAOs team involvement in Foya.


The rural economy
Lofa County 1970's
A pictorial story


Charles van Santen
December 2005