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

Diseases and climate change

This year AfricaRice is starting one of the first efforts to look at the relationship between plant diseases and climate change. The project is funded by the GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), and is called “Mitigating the impact of climate change on rice disease resistance in East Africa.” It will work in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, led by Dr. Yacouba Séré. According to the International Panel on Climate Change the Great Lakes region of Africa is expected to be especially vulnerable to climate change.

Even without climate change, there is much to be done in East Africa. In recent years, high temperatures and erratic rainfall in Uganda have contributed to an increase of diseases like rice blast, brown spot, grain rot and bacterial blight. In Tanzania, there are few rice varieties which are resistant to disease. Rice blast and sheath rot have caused 20% loss of the rice crop in Rwanda. Rice diseases often adapt quickly to their hosts, so that new varieties may lose their disease resistance within a few years.

A first step will be to learn more about the diversity of pathogens and their relationship to rice. The project will study the interactions between diseases and rice and will identify genes that will help breeders to develop varieties with more durable resistance. Effective genes can be added to popular varieties using marker assisted selection (MAS).

The team will also study farmers’ knowledge of disease and climate change, to build on indigenous knowledge. The project will link with advanced institutions, especially German universities.

Scientists will develop a model to predict what will happen to the pathogens and to the rice varieties under different climate scenarios. A variety which is resistant now may not be as climate changes. A minor disease may become a major stress as climate change and vice versa.

Two of the important rice diseases in the region are rice blast and bacterial blight. Both are greatly affected by climate, especially temperature and humidity. As the temperature increases, so may the incidence of rice diseases.

At the end of this three year project AfricaRice will have more information on the current situation of the interaction between rice varieties and rice pathogens (especially for blast and bacterial blight), on how rice diseases will respond to climate change, and on the genes that will be needed in the future to protect rice.

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Developing women’s seed enterprise
Access to agricultural finance

Mechanization: essential for rice production and processing

The case for an affordable locally adapted combine-harvester
Recent research on rice diseases in Africa
Capacity building
Rice that thrives on iron-rich soils
Improving grain quality of local rice
Enough land, enough water
Communicating weed management strategies
Fast-tracking farmers’ access to research innovation
Experimental auctions
Policy changes
Birds and weeds
Indica rice in the African uplands
Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)
Diseases and climate change
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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