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Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)

Improved Varieties for Irrigated 
Rice Farming in Africa

Access to appropriate varieties was a major constraint to improving performance and enhancing livelihoods of irrigated rice farming households in the Senegal River Valley. To address this problem, AfricaRice launched an initiative with national partners in Senegal to make available productive and adapted varieties.

Following extensive evaluation with farmers, three new varieties (Sahel 108, Sahel 201 and Sahel 202) were developed. Sahel 108 was targeted for the dry season when short duration is important for enabling farmers to double-crop. Sahel 201 and Sahel 202 are medium duration and therefore targeted for use in the wet season. Sahel 201 was introduced for high yield and moderate tolerance to salinity and Sahel 202 for high yield with good grain quality.

Mean yields of the Sahel Varieties are 6 to 7 t per ha on farmers’ fields. Internal rates of return to investments in the Sahel varieties are 66 to 72% and 77 to 83% for single and double cropping respectively. The proportion of the total area under the Sahel varieties in the region increased from 3% in 1995/96 to 72% in 2000/2001. Total volume of paddy from the Sahel varieties increased from about 3000 to more than 115,000 tonnes between 1995/96 and 2000/2001. Accumulated revenue gains from the Sahel varieties over the same period exceeded 30 million USD.

New Sahel Varieties

In 2005, the national rice varietal release committee in Senegal officially released five new varieties for use by irrigated rice farmers in the Senegal River Valley. The new varieties are: Sahel 134 (IR 31851-96-2-3-2-1), Sahel 159 (IR 32307-107-3-2-2), Sahel 208 (ITA 344), Sahel 209 (Tox 3241-22-3-3-1), and Sahel 210 (ECIA 31-6066).

The varieties were selected and tested for adaptability to the irrigated rice production environment by AfricaRice scientists in collaboration with NARES partners in Senegal (ISRA and SAED). The varieties are being made available to irrigated rice farmers in the Senegal River Valley, for whom irrigation is the only option for agriculture.

Following the selection of the varieties at the AfricaRice research station in Senegal, the Senegalese agricultural research institute undertook intensive multi-locational tests in collaboration with the national irrigation development authority (SAED) to assess the performance of the varieties in a range of irrigated rice production environments in the Senegal River Valley. The official report of the tests was presented to the national rice varietal release committee, which officially released the varieties to the farming population in 2005.

These varieties will further increase the genetic diversity and offer varietal choices in addition to the three Sahel varieties that now occupy more than 70% of the total 37000 hectares of irrigated rice area cultivated in the region. The varieties will eventually be available for use by Mauritanian farmers who cultivate more than 23 000 hectares of irrigated rice north of the Senegal River valley.

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Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)



AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center –
part of a global research partnership
for a food-secure future.
It is also an intergovernmental association of
African member countries.


AfricaRice Headquarters
01 BP 4029, Abidjan 01, Côte d'Ivoire
T: +225 22 48 09 10; F: +225 22 44 26 29

M’bé Research Station
01 B.P. 2551, Bouaké 01, Côte d'Ivoire
T: +225 22 48 09 20; F: +225 31 63 25 78

E: AfricaRice@cgiar.org


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