Hybrid Rice: Breeding by Design

Rice consumption is increasing at about 8 percent a year in many Sub-Saharan African countries. However, the increase in yield per year is less than 6 percent, and in some cases it is decreasing. Consumption in East Africa is also going up, especially in Tanzania, and probably relates to a significant expansion of the area planted under rice, and to some degree the yields, which have gone up about 1.3 percent per year, the most in East Africa. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, there has also been a dramatic increase in total rice imports for East and Southern Africa.


The goal of the Hybrid Rice: Breeding by Design Project is to improve food security and rural livelihood among smallscale rice producers in Africa, by developing hybrid rice, with significant yield advantage and creating sustainable hybrid rice agro-businesses to support rice farming in East, West and Southern Africa by determining precise relationships between yield, environment and genetics.

Rice consumption and imports are increasing at a rate higher than yields per unit area. In addition, not much work has been done on the development of rice hybrids for Africa.

AATF is working with partners to develop hybrid rice, with significant yield advantage.
The partnership is developing hybrid rice germplasm that is adapted to African conditions using the 2-line rice hybrid system technology, which uses only 2- breeding lines to produce hybrids. The female line uses a temperature modulated single gene system which is easy to breed, but requires significant skill and experience to get to hybrid seed production. The male in this system can be virtually any other line, thus opening up significant opportunities for improved heterosis through genetic diversity in the hybrids.

Through the project, there has been increased yields of at least one tonne over the best commercial varieties available for use by smallholder farmers.
Also, there has been a development of 2-line hybrid rice germplasm that is adapted to African conditions.