Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant Rice (NEWEST)

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has for the last two decades been experiencing a continuous increase in rice consumption driven mostly by a shift in consumer preferences, urbanisation and rapid population growth. Rice has therefore become a staple of considerable strategic importance, of which its growing demand poses an economic challenge for the continent. Annual rice consumption in SSA stands at 24.3 million tonnes while production is estimated at 12.5 million tonnes (MT) of milled rice, most of which is produced by smallholder farmers.

The current insufficient rice production affects the well-being of over 20 million smallholder farmers who depend on rice as a staple. SSA countries are spending more than US$ 5 billion annually on rice imports. The rice production deficit along with the subsequent large outflow of foreign exchange presents a great development challenge to governments and development agencies in SSA.

MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT

The goal of the Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient and Salt-Tolerant (NEWEST) Rice Project is to develop and disseminate farmer preferred and locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency, water-use efficiency and salt tolerance.

Soil nitrogen deficiency has been cited as a major constraint to rice production. Nitrogen deficiency is mostly acute in the highly weathered upland areas where an average yield of only one tonne per hectare, which is about 25 percent of yield potential, has been recorded. Also, nitrogen is difficult to retain when applied in lowland areas due to floods and flowing water that characterise such areas. A major concern that constraints rice production in nitrogen deficient soils is the inability of farmers to buy fertilisers to address this constraint, and when they buy, they can hardly afford the required rate for optimal yield. Improving the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of rice is one means of overcoming these limitations.

Working with partners to develop and disseminate farmer preferred and locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency, water-use efficiency and salt tolerance

With the NEWEST Rice Project abandoned croplands will be reclaimed reducing land shortages. Also, An additional 1.3 million tonnes of rice will be
produced in Africa each year, reducing the current
deficit by 10 percent.

Through the project, available technologies will be used further by scientists and there will be availability of improved farmer-preferred rice varieties.

There will be improved crop yields, resulting in enhanced household food security and production of marketable crop surplus and Food self-sufficiency in rice will redirect limited
foreign exchange used to import rice