top of page

Stress-tolerant Rice Varieties

Stress-tolerant Rice Varieties

Abiotic stresses are major constraints to rice production. AfricaRice and its partners have been focusing on the development and deployment of rice varieties that combine a high yield with better tolerance to drought, submergence, salinity, iron toxicity and low temperature, as part of a joint AfricaRice/IRRI project.


The joint project, ‘Stress-tolerant rice for poor farmers in Africa and South Asia’ (STRASA), covered 18 countries in Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.


The project adopted the breeding task force network and participatory varietal selection (PVS) mechanism for germplasm evaluation, so that national agricultural research systems (NARS) scientists (particularly breeders) and their partners are fully involved in the selection process to obtain the best cultivars for their own farmers and consumers.


Achievements of the Phase 3 of the STRASA project (2014-2019)

  • In total, 46 stress-tolerant varieties were released during this period in 16 countries namely Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. These included drought-tolerant varieties (11), flooding tolerant varieties (6), salt tolerant varieties (10), iron toxicity tolerant varieties (12), cold tolerant varieties (9), which target rainfed lowlands, rainfed uplands, mangrove swamps, irrigated lowlands, and highlands.

  • New stress tolerance donors have been identified and QTLs associated with drought tolerance, anaerobic germination tolerance, salt tolerance, iron toxicity tolerance and cold tolerance have been identified. 

  • Over 33,000 tons of breeder, foundation and certified seeds were produced and disseminated through formal channels in project countries. With an average seed rate of 50 kg/ha, this has the potential of covering over 700,000 ha of rice area in Africa.

  • Adoption of newly released varieties in project countries has been relatively high in certain countries such as in Guinea and Mali, where 16% and 20% of farmers surveyed had access to ARICA seeds whilst in Madagascar 48% of farmers surveyed were using improved varieties including the stress-tolerant varieties.

  • Rice areas affected by abiotic stresses were estimated and published (van Oort, 2018). Key abiotic stresses affecting rice production in Africa were drought (33%), iron toxicity (12%), cold (7%), flooding (5%) and salinity (2%).

  • Product profiles for replacing dominant rice varieties in Africa were developed for 16 African countries.

  • 1117 researchers, extension agents, farmers and seed producers were trained in different disciplines, and the breeding capacities of national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), AfricaRice and IRRI East and Southern Africa (ESA) breeding programs were enhanced.

  • 123 students were also trained with partial or full support of the project for BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in rice sciences in diverse disciplines such as genetics, breeding, and plant pathology. This degree training significantly strengthened the capacities of NARES in rice research including breeding.

  • NARES, AfricaRice and IRRI ESA breeders have been trained in strategies to modernize their rice breeding programs through partnership with the Excellence in Breeding (EiB).

  • AfricaRice and IRRI ESA breeding teams have replaced pedigree breeding with single seed descent to shorten breeding cycles.

bottom of page