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High Zinc rice for marginal soils in Madagascar

Updated: May 29

On March 21, 2024, "Mavitrika", a new rice variety resulting from collaboration among AfricaRice, the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), the University of Bonn, and the Centre National de Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural of Madagascar (FOFIFA), was officially introduced in Madagascar, coinciding with FOFIFA's 50th anniversary. Prime Minister NTSAY Christian led the unveiling ceremony, joined by Ministers RATOHIARIJAONA R. Suzelin and Dr. RAZAFIHARISON Andriamanantena.

The F3 lines, derived from a cross between NERICA 4 and DJ123 at AfricaRice, were introduced in Madagascar. They underwent extensive screening in Madagascar's Vakinankaratra and Boeny regions since 2015, particularly in phosphorus-deficient upland environments by JIRCAS. The screening included participatory selection and organoleptic evaluation by stakeholders. Farmers in Ankazomirihotra, Vakinankaratra, welcomed its potential yield of up to 1.8 tons/ha in poor soil, reaching an impressive 4.5 tons/ha with fertilization (Figure 1).

In addition to its good taste, "Mavitrika" contains high zinc levels crucial for children's cognitive development (Figure 2). The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock emphasized its significance in expanding rice cultivation and bolstering food security amidst climate challenges, sentiments echoed by the Prime Minister.

Figure 1. Agronomic performance of Mavitrika (V2) variety under fertilizer stress and non-stress condition as compared to other lines and NERICA 4(N4).


Enhancing plant zinc absorption from marginal soils offers multifaceted benefits. It improves nutrient uptake, enhancing plant health and resilience, leading to better crop yield and quality. Diversifying cultivation areas reduces dependence on prime agricultural soils, boosting food security and promoting environmental sustainability. This approach addresses widespread zinc deficiency, offering a sustainable, cost-effective solution to combat malnutrition.


Figure 2. High level of Zn content for paddy and milled rice respectively demonstrated by Mavitrika as compared to local popular varieties.


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