NERICAs Grow in Number: New Varieties Named

Cotonou, Benin — Based on their excellent performance and high popularity among farmers, 11 more New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties were named by the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Variety Nomination Committee in March 2005.
This brings the total number of upland NERICA varieties characterized and named by the Center to 18, including the original seven NERICA varieties (NERICA 1 – 7) that were named in 2000. All these 18 NERICA varieties are suitable for the upland rice ecology of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
NERICA is the product of the successful crossing by researchers from the Africa Rice Center of the two species of cultivated rice: Oryza sativa (Asian species) and Oryza glaberrima (African species). The NERICA name was trademarked in 2004.
The Center has generated several hundred NERICA lines, opening new gene pools and increasing the biodiversity of rice to the world of science. Some of NERICAs, including these 18 varieties, combine the best traits of both parents: high yields from the Asian parent and the ability to thrive in harsh environments from the African parent.
NERICAs have been planted on more than 100,000 ha across Africa, including 70,000 ha in Guinea and more than 10,000 ha in Uganda, and are helping countries reduce crippling rice import bills.
The newly named NERICA varieties have been tested by the Africa Rice Center and the national programs in Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo-Brazzaville and Kenya. Three of these varieties have been released in Burkina Faso and the rest are expected to be released soon by national programs of several African countries.
“These NERICA varieties are very promising, with yields of 3-5 t per ha in farmers’ fields. One of them yielded nearly 7 t at the research station in Congo-Brazzaville, which is planning to release it,” said Dr Inoussa Akintayo, Coordinator of the African Rice Initiative (ARI) and a member of the Africa Rice Center Variety Nomination Committee.
The NERICA varieties mature 30 to 50 days earlier than traditional varieties. This trait is particularly valuable for farmers to bridge the gap of the ‘hungry season’, when food stocks from the previous harvest have been exhausted and the current season’s crop is not yet mature.
“One of the outstanding characteristics of some of the new NERICA varieties is that they are ‘extra early’, with a maturity period of up to 90 days,” explained Dr Akintayo. “Their grain quality is also well appreciated by farmers.”
From the breeders’ point of view, a notable feature of the new NERICA varieties is that unlike the first set of seven NERICAs, which were derived from a single cross, the new ones are the products of three crosses, using the same O. glaberrima parent but different O. sativaparents.
The new NERICAs with their pedigree names are:
NERICA 8 WAB 450-1-BL1-136-HB
NERICA 9  WAB 450-B-136-HB
NERICA 10  WAB 450-11-1-1-P41-HB
NERICA 11 WAB 450-16-2-BL2-DV1
NERICA 12 WAB 880-1-38-20-17-P1-HB
NERICA13 WAB 880-1-38-20-28-P1-HB 
NERICA 14 WAB 880-1-32-1-2-P1-HB
NERICA 15 WAB 881-10-37-18-3-P1-HB
NERICA 16 WAB 881-10-37-18-9-P1-HB
NERICA 17 WAB 881-10-37-18-13-P1-HB
NERICA 18 WAB 881-10-37-18-12-P3-HB
“The next task of our Center’s Variety Nomination Committee is to name the NERICA varieties that have been developed—by our breeders in partnership with the national program—for the high-impact lowland ecology of SSA,” announced Dr Akintayo. “Some of these varieties are already beginning to be released in West African countries.” 

About AfricaRice

AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center – part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.


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