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Scaling-up Adoption of New Red Rice Varieties in Madagascar

The people of Madagascar are one of the highest rice consumers in the world[1] and red rice has been one of the major varieties grown and consumed in the country. Red rice is consumed in most parts of the country, and it is known for its nourishing quality, sweet taste with a nutty flavor. Farmers who often stay in the field for long hours enjoy eating red rice as breakfast because of its slow digestibility. It is also recommended for children, pregnant women, elderly and for ailing patients for its nutritional and restorative properties.

Although, there are many traditional red rice varieties available in Madagascar, they are very old with low yields, susceptible to biotic and abiotic stresses and have long growth cycle. In some areas, farmers abandoned red rice cultivation due to worsening environmental factors, such as short rainy period and pathogens outbreak, leading to extremely low yield and high disease infestation. To respond to the needs of rice stakeholders in Madagascar, AfricaRice in collaboration with national and international partners, such as FOFIFA and the Temperate Rice Research Consortium, developed three improved red rice varieties. The varieties were released through participatory varietal release protocol as FOFIFA 194, FOFIFA 195 and FOFIFA 196[2]. In addition to their nutritional benefit, these varieties are high yielding, early maturing, blast disease resistant and cold tolerant. The varieties fit into the TEMeS (Transplanted, Early, Medium grain and Soft cooking) market segment.

Currently the varietal scaling effort is being carried out with the support from European Union funded bilateral project ‘‘Building Resilience to Enhance Food, Incomes and Nutrition Security in the Comoros and Madagascar’’ (BRECOMA), that supports the establishment of demonstration plots across three central highland regions of Madagascar, namely, Vakinakatara, Analamanga and Itasy. So far more than 1995 rice value chain actors have visited the demo-plots and identified the varieties that they want to grow in their field. The new varieties were intended to support women and children nutritional uptake, coincidentally 63% of the participants during the field days were women.

The project also includes a seed production component through which 25 certified seed producers (9 women and 17 men) were trained to supply quality seeds sustainably. Private seed companies are similarly involved in early generation seed production partnering with AfricaRice through AfricaRice COSEMRiz platform, which is the consortium for rice seed growers and traders. Consequently, a total of 4 tons of early generation seeds for the three varieties were produced and ready for distribution to seed growers for 2023 cropping season.

The large-scale demonstration and seed production effort would accelerate the varietal replacement and adoption rate of the new red rice varieties. Such interventions are essential for the realization of the potential of the new varieties to contribute to the national food and nutritional security.

[1] [2]AfricaRice 2021 Annual Report


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