The National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has approved the release of five rice genotypes (varieties) onto the market for cultivation and consumption.
The approved genotypes which included 929, C93, Gbewaa Red, Waiqi, and Pac 801( a hybrid seed), are not only drought and disease tolerant, but also high in yielding, early maturing, have high nutrition, and tolerant to climate change.
Members of the NRRC made the approval at the weekend after inspecting the field trials of six proposed new rice genotypes carried out by the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) at Golinga, a community in the Northern Region.
The approved rice genotype is expected to be submitted to the MoFA for endorsement before they are officially released onto the market and subsequently placed at the national seed bank.
Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, the Acting Director of Crop Services at the MoFA, addressing the Committee after the field trip commended the institute for their efforts in developing the genotype to help improve on the seeds sector as well as increase food security in the country.
He said the rice had become a staple leading to an increase in its demand and indicated that this had created a gap in its production due to an increase in the importation of rice.
He said the Ministry had therefore set an agenda including the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to help improve on rice production in the country in order to make the country self-sufficient in its production by the years 2024 and 2025.
Mr Osei-Akoto said farmers were also encouraged to adopt the production of the improved rice seeds to help increase their yields and income.
He said even though there were some improved rice varieties released on the market some years ago, it was worrying that only two of the varieties namely “Gbewaa rice” and “Agra rice” had been promoted.
He urged the seed breeders to come out with very competitive improved varieties that could be promoted enough to make farmers adopt them for cultivation and consumption.
Dr Samuel Oppong Abebrese, a Seed Breeder, at the CSIR-SARI, who was also the research team leader said the institute had been examining these genotypes for about eight years and observed that “these proposed genotypes contained special features such as nutrition, high yielding between 4.7 to 8.9 tonnes per hector, early maturing within 83 to 130 days as well as tolerant to drought and diseases such as blast, bacterial leaf blight among others”.
He said the institute identified the six genotypes through a breeding programme set up in 2010 to provide for farmers, varieties that could cope with climate change situation such as flood and drought, as well as produce high yielding and early maturity crops.
He mentioned the six improved rice genotypes to include 929, C93 ,Gbewaa Red, Waiqi, and Pac 801( a hybrid seed) and Swarna 2 ( a hybrid seed).
Dr Abebrese said the trials of these genotypes were carried out in comparison with a check rice variety known as AGRA Rice and cultivated in areas such as Nyankpala and Golinga in the Guinea Savannah zone, Libi in the Transitional Savannah as well as Navrongo and Manga in the Sudan Savannah.
Dr Abebrese, however, said the only rice genotype which had not been approved by the Committee though it contained special features compared to the other genotype was Swarna 2.
He said the committee explained that the Swarna 2, rice genotype had already been registered and approved in Niger and contained other issues they deemed not fit to be cultivated and consumed in the country.
He gave the assurance that the institute would put in place seed production and dissemination plans to ensure farmers adopt these new rice genotypes.
Dr Stephen Nutsugah, Director for CSIR-SARI said the rice genotypes would help boost the seeds sector, reduce importation of rice as well as meet some demands of the niche market in the country.
He acknowledged the support from its partners such as Banse Tropical Food Limited, USAID, Jiangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and AfricaRice among others.