Salinity-tolerant rice variety set to boost rice yield in stress prone areas in Kenya

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Millions of hectares of land suited to rice production in Asia and Africa are not currently used because of their high salt content. Extremely high salt stress circumstances cause the plant to die, while moderate to low salt stress conditions impact the plant growth rate. This presents a challenge to ensuring food sustainability while facing the impact of climate change, such as in the case of coastal and northeastern regions in Kenya where sodic soil with high levels of sodium is widely distributed.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) launched the CSR 36, a salinity-tolerant and high-yielding variety for cultivation in both irrigated and rainfed areas on 18 January in Kiarukungu village in the Hola irrigation scheme, Tana-River County. This new variety is being offered to Kenyan farmers along with other recently-released high-yielding and climate-resilient rice varieties in the country such as 08FAN10 ( Mkombozi ) and IR05N221 (Komboka) also co-developed by IRRI and KALRO.

During the Field Day in Hola, 47 key rice value chain stakeholders and policymakers including local and national government officials, National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and the Rice Promotion Program (RIPP) representatives and 84 farmers (39 of whom are women) attended to witness the launch of CSR 36.

Results from on-farm validation trials across multiple sites in Kenya showed that CSR 36 could yield up to 5.5–6.0 tons per hectare under sodic soil conditions. This includes high soil pH levels of up to 9.8 and electrical conductivities of 6–10 dS/m, and about 6 tons per hectare in non-saline soils with an ideal pH range of 5.5–6.6. In contrast, Basmati 370, a popular local variety, only yields 2.4 – 3.8 tons per hectare under similar stressful environments. These findings show that…

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