The Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is test-planting Ghana’s first locally bred rice varieties at Dzamlome in the Kadjebi District of the Volta Region.
Three market-quality upland varieties; the B3 P6, B1 P5, and the B4 P1 are the products of years of cross breeding between lowland Jasmine 85 and upland Nerica1 stocks, under the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa initiative.
The Project is being supported by the Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Corporation Initiative whose programme; “Dissemination of Market Quality Rice Varieties to Reduce Rice Importation in Ghana,” is expected to end in July 2019.
The Centre for Conflict and Development, based in the USA, is also collaborating with the project seeking to resettle homeless persons on farms.
Dr Stella Ama Annin, the Chief Research Director of CRI, speaking at the launch of the testing and dissemination programme of the new varieties, said the project’s was to “improve food security and outcomes of farmers through the use of adapted high yielding market quality rice varieties.”
She said the cereals had the quality and matched the taste of imported brands and were expected to drive efforts at reducing rice imports.
Dr Annin said the varieties were expected to produce four tonnes per hector on 40 farmers’ fields over two years, from the use of new varieties and obtained agronomic practices, and would result in at least a 10 per cent farmer revenue increment.
She said thousands of farmers would benefit from the project which would provide them with improved technologies for producing the rice and also link them to processing mills.
Dr Annin said the Kadjebi District was chosen for its proximity to the Wurawura Rice Mill and would set up demonstration fields in the villages and on the premises of the mill to enable testing.
She said mills with the capacity of Wurawura Rice Mill would further the commercialisation of the varieties by purchasing the licence for the varieties and distributing them to farmers.
Dr Annin urged farmers, the Kadjebi District Assembly, and other stakeholders to justify the selection of the District as the pioneer of the project by supporting the initiative.
Dr Kofi Dartey, a Senior Research Scientist at CRI, who bred the stocks, said the varieties were a hybrid of high yielding Jasmine 85 as the parent, and high amylose (non-starchy) Nerica stocks to produce long and slender grains, which were soft when boiled.
He said the breeding process involved the crossing of over 100 varieties at the research facility in Kumasi and considered factors such as growth rate, pest, and disease infection.
Dr Dartey called for the patronage of the new varieties and said the lesser the milling and polishing, the more protein and roughage it contained.
Mr Maxwell Kofi Asiedu, the District Chief Executive, promised to provide a mill for the community if farmers would devote their time to producing the rice.
A multipurpose power tiller was provided for the project.