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CSIR-Crops Research Institute with the support of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has developed 3 improved rice varieties. The new varieties-AG-CRI-UPL-1-2,AG-CRI-UPL-4-13 AND AG-CRI-UPL-1-18- have long, slender, white aromatic grains, are disease and pest resistant and have a short maturity period of 90 to 100 days .
Over the years rice production has been a major challenge to farmers due to the difficulties they face acquiring suitable land for rice cultivation and the maturity period for rice. These challenges among others have had caused many farmers to frown on rice production resulting in huge volumes of rice imports and its dire consequences on the economy.
According to the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Afriyie-Akoto statistics available indicates that from the year 2007 to 2015, the importation of rice, a leading import commodity in the country, rose from about 151 to 1,162 million dollars.
It is against this background that the CSIR – Crop Research Institute developed these improved rice varieties which can be cultivated on highlands and have a short maturity period of 90– 100 days to encourage more farmers to venture into rice cultivation.
At a press briefing to harvest and showcase these improved rice varieties, a Rice breeder at the CSIR – Crop Research Institute, Dr. Kofi Ayirebi Dartey disclosed that unlike the ordinary varieties of rice which can only flourish in lowland areas, especially where the land has enough water, these new varieties grow in highland areas and therefore people can cultivate them in their garden and any other ordinary place where maize or cowpea can grow. “These types of rice will relieve farmers of the stress they usually go through during rice production. They take a few weeks to mature and since they grow on highlands, it would be easier for farmers to use tractors to cultivate without fear of tractors getting stuck,” he said. He indicated that some of the best varieties of rice across the world were selected and interbred to achieve the positive results. He said the new varieties were very resistant to diseases.
Dr Dartey announced that with sponsorship from the Korea Programme for International Agriculture (KOPIA), the CSIR –Crop Research Institute could cultivate 2,000 hectares of the improved varieties within the next three years.
He appealed to farmers to adopt the new improved varieties to help improve rice production for local consumption and also for export. “This country spends millions of dollars to import rice each year, so if farmers adopt these new varieties which mature very fast and start cultivating them, within a short period the country will produce a lot of rice and that would enable us to reduce the high importation. Dr Dartey added.
True to its attributes of performing very well on uplands and its short maturity period the new varieties performed very well on the pilot rice field located on the CSIR Head Office Compound and were ready for harvesting on the 15th June 2019 after they were planted on the 15th of March 2019.
The development of the new improved varieties was sponsored by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), while KOPIA is supporting the field trials and transfer of technology.