Friday, February 27, 2009

Stakeholders take stock of stress-tolerant rice for Africa

Stakeholders of the project on “Stress-tolerant rice for poor farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA) met, 26-27 February, at the Africa Rice Center 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 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.

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.

The project highlighted the following achievements at the meeting:
  • Production of seeds of improved and stress-tolerant varieties ready for evaluation 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

In addition to 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 were invited to the meeting to give their feedback.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

International experts team up to stimulate rice production in Africa and Asia

An international meeting to plan a project on “Green Super Rice for the Resource-poor of Africa and Asia” was hosted by the Africa Rice Center, 24-25 February, at its regional research station in Ibadan, Nigeria.

The 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 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 attended the planning meeting.

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. The long-term (10 year) goal of the project is to increase rice production by about 10% in the rainfed and irrigated areas of those regions. In sub-Saharan Africa, the project covers Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Maintaining stewardship over NERICA quality

A delegation from the CGIAR Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP) led by its Project Manager Dr Victoria Henson-Apollonio met with staff from the Africa Rice Center, 13 February, in Cotonou, Benin to discuss issues relating to NERICA branding and highlight the relationship between product quality and trust building.

As the expanding range of NERICA varieties is being increasingly adopted by smallholder farmers, it is important to protect the quality associations that have been set up by the Africa Rice Center.

CAS-IP, which helps CGIAR-supported Centers manage their intellectual assets as public goods, explained that the Africa Rice Center might consider maintaining the stewardship over NERICA quality, especially concerning the quality of NERICA seed production from breeder to foundation to the certified seed that reaches the farmers.

During the meeting, the participants were informed that molecular markers that could be used to verify the identity of NERICA varieties released by the Africa Rice Center are available and that some of the African countries had in-country capacity to perform such tests. These molecular methods could be used to verify NERICA identities in addition to some phenotypic markers currently used in the field.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Africa Rice Center hosts Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) meeting

Africa Rice Center is an active steering committee member of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) – a joint initiative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) – which seeks to double rice production over the coming 10 years.

CARD was officially launched in May 2008 at the Tokyo International Conference for Agricultural Development (TICAD-IV) in Yokohama, Japan.

The Coalition serves as a facilitating and coordinating mechanism, building on existing policies and programs, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and the African Rice Initiative of the Africa Rice Center.

A technical meeting of CARD was hosted by the Africa Rice Center, 2-5 February in Cotonou, Benin, to help the first group of CARD countries build the framework for the national rice development strategies (NRDS). About 45 participants attended this meeting.