Achievement and outlook in rice research in Africa with special reference to WARDA’s activities
WARDA has expanded its activities beyond West and Central Africa (WCA) depending on an as needed basis and its capacity since the importance of rice is increasing in other sub-regions than WCA. A rice research network has already been functioning in both WCA and East and Central Africa. Through the networks, a varietal selection, field evaluation of lines at multi-locations and dissemination of new technologies are efficiently conducted in close collaboration with National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES). This strong relationship with NARES plays an important role in WARDA's activities. Interspecific breeding between Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) and African rice (O. glaberrima Steud.), where advantages of the two species were attempted to be combined, started in 1992 with targeting uplands and a number of promising interspecific progenies (NERICA) have been developed. The target of this interspecific breeding was expanded to lowlands because lowlands have more potential in relation to rice productivity. Lowland NERICAs were developed by a strong collaboration with NARES through the research network in WCA. WARDA adopted a participatory approach (PVS) in varietal selection and dissemination. PVS is also a collaboration activity with NARES. At the beginning of 2007, upland NERICAs were widely disseminated in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and lowland NERICAs in 7 countries in WCA. Attempts to develop new lowland NERICAs adaptable to rainfed conditions have already started. The new NERICAs for rainfed lowlands are expected to have strong weed competitiveness and adaptability to a wide range of hydrological conditions from drought to water logging.
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