IRRI and AfricaRice collaborate on developing and delivering improved and localized rice varieties to smallholder farmers in Africa

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As a continuation of accelerating and modernizing the breeding programs through the Accelerating Genetic Gain in Rice (AGGRi) Alliance initiated in 2019, the second phase of AGGRi (AGGRi2) was launched in the Nanenane farm of the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)- Uyole last January 22, 2024. The AGGRi Alliance was formed to unify modern rice breeding efforts in South Asia and the African continent.

After the successful completion of the first phase of the AGGRi Alliance project in South Asia and East and Southern Africa (ESA) from 2019 to 2023, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has shifted its focus to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) for the phase 2 of AGGRi. With the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and AfricaRice at its helm and the support of the national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) partners from SSA, the initiative aims to respond to the rising food security needs of rice-producing African countries.

Agricultural productivity across crops in SSA is low and rice consumption is increasing faster than that of any other food staple in SSA at about 6% per year, with only about 60% of rice consumption being satisfied by domestic production. While several challenges contribute to the low rice productivity, low adoption of the improved high-yielding climate-resilient varieties and minimal use of quality seeds remain some of the major challenges in the rice sector in SSA. This situation poses a threat to the region’s food security thus, warranting focused and continued interventions from governments, local and international research organizations, developmental agencies, scaling partners, and donors.

“The AGGRi2 project is a manifestation of the continuing impact of IRRI’s rice breeding strategies”, said Dr. Hans Bhardwaj, Director of Rice Breeding Innovations (RBI) at IRRI. He further shared that he…

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