Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Green Super Rice Phase 2 highlights achievements in Africa

Green Super Rice (GSR) Phase 2 project highlighted its achievements for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) during a workshop in Uganda. One of these was the release of Okile (GSR I0057=ZGY1) variety in Uganda. GSR is a mix of more than 250 different rice varieties developed to perform well in the toughest conditions where the poorest farmers grow rice. The long-term objective of the project is to boost rice productivity by 20% to benefit some 20 million poor rice farmers in the target countries.

During the workshop participants from Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Mozambique presented the progress made in their respective countries. Achievements in GSR breeding in IRRI Hubs in Burundi, Tanzania, and countries in West Africa were also presented. Other GSR varieties released in ESA are the weed-tolerant Hua 565, Simiao, and Buryohe.

Resource poor farmers in Africa and Asia can benefit from the project because this technology requires less input without sacrificing yield, said Dr. Zhikang Li, project director and chief scientist of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Li said that next phase of the project will focus on seed upscaling and the release of new GSR varieties. To meet that goal, the project workshop developed the seed road map and seed upscale strategy for each country in ESA.

Careful planning for seed upscale in countries where the GSR varieties were released will be the priority as well as identifying local seed producers and key stakeholders to mobilize the resources for proper seed upscale of promising GSR released varieties, according to Dr. Jauhar Ali, IRRI-GSR project leader and coordinator for Asia and ESA, and Dr. Jimmy Lamo, project coordinator in Uganda.

 “The GSR project has set up a very good opportunity for a vital role of collaboration,” Li added.

Ambrose Agona, director general of the  National Agricultural Research Organisation, agreed. “Partnership is a very important element for any project to succeed,” he emphasized. He challenged the participants to come up with a strategy for awareness and promotion such varieties so that people, especially the farmers can really benefit from the project. He also expressed his gratitude to the project for choosing Uganda as one of its target countries.

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  GSR varieties that give high and stable yield without requiring heavy inputs. The African component of the project is coordinated by Africa Rice Center and in partnership with IRRI, national programs of target countries, non-governmental organizations, farmers’ associations and the private sector.

The workshop was held at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Uganda on 3-5 November.

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