NCRI, AfricaRice Introduce Flood Tolerant Rice Varieties
The National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) and Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) have released two flood resistant varieties of rice which are expected to increase rice yields.
This was disclosed on Monday by the National Coordinator for STRASA and Green Super Rice (GR III) Projects, Dr. Mohammed Bashir, at a workshop on varietal replacement strategies which held in Abuja.
According to him, the flood – tolerant varieties, ‘Farrow 66’ and Farrow 67,’ released understand the Bill Melinda Gates rice project would help rice farmers increase their yields from two tonnes per hectare to about seven tonnes per hectare, a move that would help the country achieve self sufficiency in rice production.
Addressing the workshop, Dr. Bashir noted that the national rice production was low because the local varieties produced by farmers were low-yielding in addition to some biotic and abiotic challenges that limit production.
He pointed out that “we usually produce about two to three tonnes, using the farmers’ varieties and with good intervention of technologies; we now have improved varieties that can yield up to four to seven metric tonnes under good management.”
The STRASA and GSR 111 Coordinator recalled the 2012 floods that washed out most rice farms in the country.
He added that: “The plan of the government was to go to Japan or China to bring in a rice variety that can tolerate submergence or flood. AfricaRice and National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi, under STRASA and GSR projects were able to release two prominent flood-resistant rice varieties called ‘Farrow 66’ and ‘Farrow 67.”
In his own comments, the Senior Programme Officer, Crop Productivity Lead, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Gary Atlin, disclosed that the foundation had put in between 40 and 50 million dollars on rice breeding in Africa in the last 10 years.
According to him, the investment was made in collaboration with AfricaRice, International Rice Research Institute and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The Regional Representative of AfricaRice in Nigeria, Dr. Francis Nwilene, said the projects had released two flood-tolerant rice varieties and three drought-tolerant rice varieties in Nigeria.
The objective of the projects, he said, was to develop rice varieties tolerant to the challenges facing rice production in Nigeria and other African countries.
He said the project was all about “smallholder farmers,” stressing that “whatever we are developing is for them to plant in their farms.”