NERICAs Grow in Number: New Varieties Named

Based on their excellent performance and high popularity among farmers, 11 more New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties were named by the Benin based Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Variety Nomination Committee recently.

This brings the total number of upland NERICA varieties characterized and named by the Center to 18, including the original seven NERICA varieties (NERICA 1 – 7) that were named in 2000.

All these 18 NERICA varieties are suitable for the upland rice ecology of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).NERICA is the product of the successful crossing by researchers from the Africa Rice Center of the two species of cultivated rice: Oryza sativa (Asian species) and Oryza glaberrima (African species).

The NERICA name was trademarked in 2004.The Center has generated several hundred NERICA lines, opening new gene pools and increasing the biodiversity of rice to the world of science.

Some of NERICAs, including these 18 varieties, 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.

NERICAs have been planted on more than 100,000 ha across Africa, including 70,000 ha in Guinea and more than 10,000 ha in Uganda, and are helping countries reduce crippling rice import bills.

The newly named NERICA varieties have been tested by the Africa Rice Center and the national programs in Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo-Brazzaville and Kenya.

Three of these varieties have been released in Burkina Faso and the rest are expected to be released soon by national programs of several African countries.

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