24 February 09, Cotonou, Benin –
The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is hosting an international meeting, 24-25 February 2009, at its regional research station in Ibadan, Nigeria, to plan a project on “Green Super Rice for the Resource-poor of Africa and Asia.”
The Green Super Rice project aims to reduce poverty and hunger and increase food and income security of resource-poor farmers in Africa and Asia through the development and dissemination of “Green Super Rice” varieties that give high and stable yield without requiring heavy inputs.
The African component of the project will be coordinated by the Africa Rice Center and will be carried out in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and national programs of project countries, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ associations and the private sector. Representatives of all the project partners are attending the planning meeting.
The project is planned to work in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania.
“The Green Super Rice project is expected to greatly benefit sub-Saharan Africa, as the region is importing up to 40 percent of its rice requirements,” commented Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Director General, Africa Rice Center. “Last year’s record rice prices made this burden even more unbearable for the impoverished countries of the region.”
The project targets at least 5 million poor rice farmers, including 3.5 million women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and South Asia, who have received limited benefits from major developments in rice technologies. Rice production in the rainfed lowland and irrigated ecosystems in these countries is limited primarily by poor water management, adverse soils, diseases, pests, and unavailability of suitable varieties.
The project researchers will make maximum use of recent scientific advances – particularly in genetics, genomics, and crop physiology – that have opened up new opportunities to speed up the process of developing high-yielding and stress-tolerant rice varieties.
The long-term (10 year) goal of the project is to increase rice production by about 10% in the rainfed and irrigated areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia. These will be achieved through wide adoption of the Green Super Rice hybrid and inbred varieties in at least 1 million ha in sub-Saharan Africa, 2 million ha in South East Asia and 1.5 million ha in South Asia.