A new variety of rice developed in Africa can yield up to 50 per cent larger crops without fertilizer, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which supported the research that led to the breakthrough.
Developed by an African non-governmental organization, the West Africa Rice Development Association (
WARDA), the new rice varieties known as NERICA - "New Rice for Africa" - can produce more grain than current varieties when cultivated with traditional rain-fed systems without fertilizer, UNDP said today in a statement.
"NERICA has a great potential to become the second miracle rice, this time developed in Africa," said Ken Fujimura, UNDP Senior Advisor on South-South Cooperation, referring to Asian varieties that dramatically increased yields when introduced several decades ago.
According to UNDP, the adoption of the new varieties in West Africa over the next three to five years on about 25 per cent of the area planted with rice can potentially produce a savings of $100 million a year in rice imports and boost farmers' incomes by more than 25 per cent.
UNDP provided support for the joint research on NERICA from the South-South Cooperation Fund under the Japanese Human Resources Development Fund of the Government of Japan. The new varieties are an important contribution towards implementing the agenda for action of the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development, the agency said.
A WARDA workshop at its headquarters in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, from 9 to 12 April will establish a group of partners to spark the launch of NERICA throughout the region.