AATF to develop new rice varieties for farmers in Ghana, others

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), has signed a license agreement with Japan Tobacco (JT) of Japan for the use of JT’s transformation technology to develop new rice varieties by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

The initiative, known as the Nitrogen Use Efficient Water Use Efficient and Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) Rice Project, will seek to address some of the major constraints that face rice production in SSA.

Countries selected for the project are Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

The project aims to develop and disseminate farmer preferred and locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency, water-use efficiency and salt tolerance. JT will offer the technology free of charge to the AATF with an aim of supporting humanitarian aid projects.

In a release issued by AATF and copied to the Ghana News Agency, rice was an important staple food and a commodity of strategic significance across much of Africa.

Dr Denis Kyetere, Executive Director of AATF, said the slow growth in domestic rice production has been attributed to low yields being achieved by rice farmers in SSA.

“Several factors are responsible for the low rice production. However, nitrogen deficiency and drought have been cited as leading constraints to upland rice production, while high salinity is increasingly becoming a major problem in many rice growing areas of Africa,” he added.

Mr Masamichi Terabatake, JT’s Chief Strategy Officer, said the agreement will allow AATF to sub-license the transformed materials to other public institutions working on the project. This will enable them to field test the materials in different ecologies in SSA.

“The institutions will have the freedom to breed new rice varieties, using the transformed materials as the source of the desired traits”, he added.

Source: GNA

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