Africa’s miracle rice: NERICA

African rice (Oryza glaberrima) has many stress tolerant genes but it lacks in yield potential like Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.). African farmers prefer O.glaberrima due to its adaptability and tolerance to local pests and diseases.O.sativa has high yield potential but it can not withstand stresses of African region. So, since long time majority of rice was imported in Africa from other countries. Then a miracle happened which earned the King Baudouin award in 2000 to Africa Rice Center and World Food Prize to Dr. Monty Jones in 2004. The miracle rice NERICA, which brought a ray of hope in African farmers.

NERICA rice is a result of crosses between the two cultivated species of African and Asian rice. Their plants are taller which makes harvesting easy and some of the varieties even have a yield advantage over their parents. Also, NERICA varieties have high protein content even more than its Asian parent O.sativa. NERICA varieties are very popular among African farmers due to their excellent performance.

Its upland varieties are derived from O.sativa subsp. Japonica whereas lowland varieties are derived from sub species .indica. There are 18 different varieties of upland NERICA and 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 14 are completely tolerant to stem borers. Locally NERICA rice varieties are called as Bonfani (perfumed high-quality rice), Dususuma malo (rice of hope) and in Guinea, generally it is called Riz ADRAO.

There are 60 lowland varieties of NERICA developed which can be grown in both irrigated and rainfed conditions. NERICA L-19 and NERICA L-49 can tolerate toxicity of soils prevalent in lowland ecosystem of Africa.

NERICA varieties have brought back hope in African farmers to increase their domestic rice production and depend less on rice imports. Thus, they can be better called as miracle rice of Africa.

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