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Improving rice productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa
Rice plays a critical role in food security for more than half of the world’s population. In Africa, rice is one of the most cultivated and important food crops. Soil nitrogen deficiency, drought and salinity have been cited as key constraints to rice production in Africa. Globally, rice production accounts for nearly 16 percent of total fertiliser use. Improved nitrogen use efficiency within rice production systems will increase crop yields, lower the continent’s nitrogen fertiliser deficit, reduce its soil nutrient depletion, and protect water quality.
With majority of farmers unable to buy and apply the required rate of fertiliser for optimal yield, nitrogen deficiency remains a key concern. Nitrogen deficiency is predominant in rainfed (both upland and lowland) areas. It is mostly acute in the highly weathered upland areas (about 38% of the cultivated rice area) where an average yield of only one tonne per hectare, which is about 25 percent of yield potential, has been recorded. In lowland areas (33% of the cultivated rice area), it is difficult to retain applied nitrogen due to floods and flowing water that characterise such areas. On the other hand, 80 percent of rice farms traditionally depend on the unreliable rainfall and are unable to afford irrigation facilities making drought a major concern. In coastal lowlands and mangrove
swamps of Africa, high salinity is increasingly becoming a major problem in rice growing areas.
Improving the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of rice is one means of overcoming the nitrogen deficiency limitation. Estimates indicate that with 50% less nitrogen fertiliser, yields would go up by 20% more than with conventional rice. Building water use efficiency (WUE) will help address the drought concerns as the rice will require less water offerring an appreciable coping mechanism against drought.
Through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), AATF is working with partners towards developing and disseminating farmer preferred and locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency, water-use efficiency and salt tolerance. The Project is being implemented in 3 countries – Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana.
“The NEWEST rice project offers hope to rice farmers. As a breeder, I see it as a vehicle to bring transgenic rice varieties possessing combinations of nitrogen use efficiency, water use efficiency and salinity tolerance to Ghanaian rice farmers. I am also excited by the possibility of freely backcrossing these genes into other varieties.”
Paul Kofi Dartey, Rice Breeder CRI, Ghana
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), one of the original funders of AATF, supports the Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient, Salt-Tolerant Rice Project; Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea Project; and the Water Efficient Maize for Africa project. USAID supports the MLN Diagnostics and Management Project through CIMMYT. USAID also supported the Striga Control in Maize project as part of the US government’s Feed the Future initiative.
To significantly impact food security, livelihood, and resilience of
smallholder rice farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa
1. To develop Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use efficient Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) Rice Varieties
2. To improve farmer preferred varieties with the NEWEST traits
3. Commercialize and produce seeds of NUE and NEWEST farmer preferred rice varieties in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
4. To develop and disseminate farmer preferred and locally adaptedrice varieties with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency, water-use efficiency and salt tolerance
Level of yield increase expected through NEWEST rice
Estimated tonnes of rice to be produced in Africa annually as result of higher yielding farmer-preferred…
yield advantage under low nutrient soil?
triple stacked NEWET Rice events developed with yield advantage of up to 40% under the abiotic…