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Agrobiodiversity / / Improved NEWEST Rice variety to African farmers

Improved NEWEST Rice variety to African farmers

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, rice is the fastest growing source of food in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and African farmers are doing what they can to increase production to keep pace. The Current data from USDA showed that 12.5 million tons of milled rice is being produced, however there is a 12 million tons deficit that is costing Africans about $5.7 billion annually to import. Most of the Sub-Saharan Africa rice production is in the hands of small-scale farmers who struggle with nitrogen deficient soils, saline soils and drought conditions.

To improve these conditions, a partnership was formed between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), California-based Arcadia Biosciences, the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) and the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) of Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, to develop NEWEST rice. An acronym for Nitrogen Use Efficient, Water Use Efficient and Salt Tolerant rice, the NEWEST rice program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Feed the Future initiative. The objective of the partnership is to increase rice production across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The NEWEST rice program started in 2008 with the goal of enhancing the NERICA variety of rice with three genes that improve nitrogen up-take, use water more efficiently and increase tolerance to saline soils. Results to date show that NEWEST rice is more efficient at using nitrogen in the soil than its non-genetically modified counterpart, resulting in increased yields under reduced nitrogen fertilizer regimes. As field trials continue over the next five years (2014-2018), the salt tolerance and water-use efficiency traits will be evaluated as well, ultimately striving to develop and deploy farmer-preferred, locally adapted, genetically improved rice varieties that improve farmer livelihoods and food security in Africa.newest featured

CIAT’s role

With access to confined research field facilities near its headquarters in Latin America, CIAT screened and validated the best performing Nitrogen-Use-Efficient (NUE) rice lines for use in the African field trials. CIAT will continue to evaluate NEWEST rice over the next 2 years to identify elite lines for deployment.

“This project definitely marks a major scientific milestone,” said Michael Gomez Selvaraj, CIAT crop physiologist who is leading the project at CIAT. We believe that the multi-location field trials that are conducted across the countries will be more useful to study the proof of concept of these interesting NEWEST genes and select promising transgenic lines that will enable the small holder rice farmers to increase the rice production in Africa”.

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  • Reinhardt Howeler: Thanks, Keith. It was a pleasure writing this book as it brought back so many good memories of working with cassava, both in Latin America and in Asia. I was lucky that the Nippon Foundation suggested that I write this book and financed its publication. They also wanted a simplified version for farmers and extension workers that could be translated into various languages. The English version of this new book is now going to press in Hanoi, while the Khmer and Vietnamese translations are also ready for printing and the Thai and Chinese translations are still being worked on. In case you are interested in the English version, let me know. My email address is still And let me know where you are working now and what you are doing. Reinhardt
  • Peter de Vroome: Great invention! Could be very usefull in our research in fast detecting CFSD in our planting material. Is this kit already for sale? Peter de Vroome phytopathologist Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (C.E.L.O.S.)
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  • Keith Fuglie: An impressive publication! Reinhardt Howeler has done an incredible job of summarizing lessons from nearly 30 years of work on cassava improvement in Asia. This very successful collaboration between CIAT and national research programs demonstrates what can be achieved through modest but persistent investment in agricultural research, even with a relatively neglected crop grown primarily by poor farm families in marginal environments.
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  • Kellan: i am also working on ppd on cassava. can you please help me find find a suitable protocol to analyse ppd.
  • ALI SALEM IBRAHIM: Hi we looking to start collaborations with ciat center if it,s possible.
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