​‘Smart-valleys’ is a low-cost, participatory and sustainable approach to develop the bottoms of inland valleys for rice-based systems. Major advantages mentioned by farmers are the increased water retention in their fields, less risk of fertilizer losses due to flooding and increased rice yields.

The Smart-valleys approach follows a step-wise procedure focusing on design, lay-out and construction of low-cost water-control infrastructure after a careful selection procedure paying attention to both socio-economic and biophysical factors and making extensive use of farmers’ knowledge.

Where piloted

Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone


Success factors

The Smart-valleys approach allows rice yields to double through improved water control, with only limited additional cost for the producers compared to common approaches with high investment costs. Smart-valleys are more sustainable because they are developed and constructed by the farmers themselves. Moreover, the approach can be implemented within one growing season.


The approach creates ownership with the rice farmers and results in sustainable inland valleys development. The implementation of the approach is not difficult for lowland farmers and spillover effects were observed in advanced pilot countries -- Benin and Togo -- where farmers living near the pilot sites have adopted the practice after seeing it.     


Benefits and impact on livelihoods at the pilot sites

Adoption of Smart-valleys technology enabled farmers in Benin to increase rice yield by 0.9 t/ha and the net income by US$ 267/ha.



Any rainfed lowland with potential for rice cultivation. Training manual and video on Smart-valleys are available in French and English. In Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone and Liberia, videos in the respective four local languages in each country are also available.

Smart-valleys: Trainer-facilitator’s manual

For more information, click here​

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