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Africa Rice center – New Rice for Africa

Organization(s):

Ministry of Agriculture in all participant countries, Africa Rice Centre (WARDA), UNDO, Gatsby Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS); FAO, MAAIF, United Nations Development Programme-Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (UNDO-TCDC), New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)

Country (ies):

Provider-China, Colombia, Philipines, Japan Recepient-Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso

Overview:

New Rice for Africa (NERICA) technology refers to the successful crossing by researchers from the Africa Rice Center of the two species of cultivated rice to produce plants (known as interspecifics) that 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—a feat not successfully achieved before in the history of rice breeding. Through the crossing of the two rice species, the NERICA technology gives researchers access to new genetic combinations. The NERICA name was trademarked in 2004.

The main aim of this project was to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa, through research, development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment. For upstream research and development, the Interspecific Hybridization Project (IHP) model – a triangular South-South partnership – was developed to bring together the pool of expertise from advanced research institutes such as the Africa Rice Centre, with that of national programs. The rice varieties that were developed from this project were, in 1999, dubbed the New Rice for Africa, commonly known as NERICA, a name that was trademarked in 2004.

Background:

This project was designed to develop appropriate NERICA varieties through crossing African rice species, resistant to disease and drought, and Asian rice species - high yield potential, in the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) with the assistance from Japan, UNDP and other organizations. To help alleviate hunger in Africa through further promoting research, development and dissemination of NERICA.

The targets for the involved partners were:

  • To develop various kinds of NERICA varieties suitable for each local situation.
  • To disseminate NERICA varieties.
  • To increase production of NERICA rice
  • To disseminate NERICA varieties in West African Countries with a view to increase their rice production.
  • Its main development challenge was to help communities produce more rice as a means of increasing food security in involved countries and, in the future, Africa at large.

    Implementation:

    This project was designed to develop appropriate NERICA varieties through crossing African rice species, resistant to disease and drought, and Asian rice species - high yield potential, in the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) with the assistance from Japan, UNDP and other organizations. To help alleviate hunger in Africa through further promoting research, development and dissemination of NERICA.

    The targets for the involved partners were:

  • To develop various kinds of NERICA varieties suitable for each local situation.
  • To disseminate NERICA varieties.
  • To increase production of NERICA rice
  • To disseminate NERICA varieties in West African Countries with a view to increase their rice production.
  • Its main development challenge was to help communities produce more rice as a means of increasing food security in involved countries and, in the future, Africa at large. Research into the hybridization project was preceded by research into different rice species in Africa and Asia. The research was mainly to produce fertile offspring of crosses between indigenous African rice (Oryzaglaberrima) and Asian rice (O Sativa). Evaluation meetings were held with researchers from WARDA as well as board members representing collaborating institutions and principal donors. The process included presentations from national agricultural research and extension services in Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea as well as farmers from Cote d'Ivoire who had been selected to pilot the programme. A process called Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) was used to obtain feedback from farmers on their preferences in the new rice varieties as well as for technology transfer through discussions with stakeholders, i.e. scientists, extension workers, farmers and NGO's to discuss ways of getting rice to farmers. PVS was a three year programme which involved WARDA and extension staff selecting a village in which to establish the initial rice garden in which would be planted 60-100 varieties of interpsecific, sativas, glaberrimas, as well as local and regional varieties. The growth and progress of the garden would be recorded and in the next year only the varieties selected are planted and in the third, farmers pay for the seed of their chosen varieties in order to assess the viability and appeal of the new species to the farmers.

    In the middle of 2000, NERICA 1 and NERICA 2 were released in Cote d'Ivoire and 500 hectares were to be planted. NERICA 3-7, which were piloted in Guinea, are being spread to other regions by the national agricultural research programme. It was expected that in 2000, Guinean farmers would grow about 5000 ha of 5 NERICA varieties, for 2002 the projection was 400 000 ha.

    In March 2002 there was a launch of the Africa Rice Initiative (ARI) which established the NERICA Consortium for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa to implement it and the first phase was set for 2002-2006. Its projections were to cultivate up to 210,000 hectares in West and Central Africa. This project would include more than 120,000 African rice farmers in participatory seed selection process and introducing NERICA to over 1.7million farmers as well as increase rice production to over 744,000 tons, which would save up to US$88million in rice imports to Africa per year.

    Outcomes:

    Upland NERICA varieties: Product of the NERICA technology, adapted to the harsh growing environment and low-input conditions of upland (rain fed) rice ecologies in SSA, where smallholder farmers lack the means to irrigate and apply chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The upland NERICA responds even better to higher inputs. Dr Monty Jones, former WARDA researcher, was selected as the co-laureate of the 2004 World Food Prize for developing the upland NERICA varieties. Upland NERICAs are planted on more than 100,000 ha across Africa, including about 60,000 ha in Guinea and more than 10,000 ha in Uganda.

    Lowland NERICA varieties: Another scientific breakthrough based on the NERICA technology. The lowland NERICA varieties with yield potential of 6-7 t per ha and good resistance to major lowland stresses have been developed for the African lowlands, one of the most complex rice ecologies in the world. Given the high potential of the lowlands in Africa, the lowland NERICA is expected to make an even bigger impact than the upland NERICA. Four lowland NERICA varieties have been released in Burkina Faso and two in Mali.

    Other successes included

    Human resources development/training

    Education/building awareness

    Institutional strengthening, including local participation

    Technology transfer/exchange

    To dispatch experts to relevant institutions for supporting further research and development of NERICA in the field of the seed multiplication technology

    The project also worked in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which include developing global partnerships for development, ensuring environmental sustainability, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, and eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, amongst others. Since the beginning of the project, over 5000 NERICA lines were developed and over 200 of those are ready for dissemination. The success of NERICA has been replicated by other organizations such as NEPAD as part of their Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

    The NERICA programme was replicated by NEPAD and CAADP in Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi.

    Aid Effectiveness:

    The structure of the programme facilitated a process where researchers and scientists working with the donors were readily available to the farmers to discuss the projects hence allowing the farmers to be a part of the process every step of the way. This ensured that when the initial skills and technology transfer had been established in the pilot farms, the process could still be continued when the researchers and scientists left. Local farms were selected for the pilot programme and this process involved the national agricultural research programmes of each respective country to ensure that the local communities and its governments were part of the process and not being driven by the donors and foreign governments. The NERICA (IHP) project also created a policy environment that allows all the involved countries to cooperate on policy issues that go beyond the agricultural sector.

    Capacity Development:

    WARDA will continue to develop the abilities of national scientists and increase institutional capacity by organizing regional and national courses, and welcoming national scientists and technicians for individual training with special emphasis on promoting women's involvement in rice research. At the same time, WARDA will seek to use new information and communication technologies for internal and external training so that, by the end of the Plan period, WARDA should be in a leading position for training activities in the region.

    To achieve its capacity building goals, WARDA will implement training coalitions with partners including other CG Centers, advanced research and development institutions (e.g. CTA, Winrock International, INTIF, BDPA) and all national stakeholders (including regional universities and institutions).

    PVS was a triangular strategy that allowed extensive skills, knowledge and technology transfer between scientists, researchers and the farmers (who included formerly sidelined women farmers).

    Duration:

    Phase 1:1997-2000; Phase 2000-2004 Since 1996 in East, West, Central and Southern Africa By 2006, studies were completed in Benin, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire.

    Budget (Optional):

    Funding for IHP from 1997-2000 US$450000 per year plus US$474000 from WARDA Funding for the ARI-US$35million(including US$30million soft loan from the African Development Bank

    Name of Primary Contact Person:

    Inoussa Akintayo

    Title of Primary Contact Person:

    Coordinator of Africa Rice Initiative

    City:

    Cotonou, Gabon