26 February 09, Cotonou, Benin – A year after the launch of the 3-year project on Stress-tolerant rice for poor farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA), its stakeholders are meeting, 26-27 February 2009, at the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) regional station in Ibadan, Nigeria to review the progress made by the project and plan for 2009.
Funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the STRASA project involves international researchers from IRRI and theAfrica Rice Center as well as partners from national agricultural research institutes, government extension and civil society groups in 17 countries.
Focusing on the major rainfed ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the project aims to accelerate the development and delivery of improved rice varieties that are tolerant to five major stresses – drought, submergence, salinity, iron toxicity and low temperature.
An important thrust of the project is to enhance the capacity in national research and technology transfer systems for sustained rice improvement efforts.
Africa Rice Center is IRRI’s main partner in implementing the African component of this project. The project member countries in Africa comprise Benin, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal in West Africa as well as Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in eastern and southern Africa.
Speaking about the STRASA project, Dr Baboucarr Manneh, Coordinator of the African component, highlighted the following achievements:
- Production of seeds of improved and stress-tolerant varieties that will be evaluated in the project countries through farmer participatory varietal selection;
- Training of national scientists, technicians and farmers in modern breeding approaches, improved seed production and impact assessment;
- Implementation of improved and standardized screening facilities at the research stations of Africa Rice Center for the different stresses; and
- Establishment of a network of national scientists and partners in the project countries
The discussions on 2009 work-plan will cover participatory varietal selection methods, seed production mechanisms, impact assessment studies and monitoring and evaluation.
Dr Manneh added that this review and planning meeting is particularly special because in addition to the participation of representatives from 16 sub-Saharan African countries, the President of the West and Central Africa Women Rice Farmers’ Association, Mrs Penda Gueye-Cisse, as well as private seed producers have also been invited to the meeting to give their feedback.