WITAs and WABs
A series of promising varieties for the rainfed lowland and irrigated ecosystems, named WITAs, have been released in various African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Uganda).
The WITA varieties are mainly appreciated for their improved grain yield, resistance to diseases (blast and rice yellow mottle virus), and tolerance to drought and iron toxicity.
WITA 4 is widely cultivated in rainfed lowlands in Nigeria (FARO 52), Gambia, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo. It is appreciated for its iron-toxicity tolerance, yield under low input conditions, and yield potential.
WITA 9 is the predominant variety in lowlands in Côte d’Ivoire (known locally as ‘Nimba’). It is also grown in Niger, Uganda and Senegal. An impact study on WITA 9 in Côte d’Ivoire, published in 2019, reveals that the paddy yield advantage of WITA 9 is 0.7 t/ha; its adoption increased farmer’s income by US$ 91/ha/season; and that consumers’ willingness to pay was higher for WITA 9 than for any other locally produced rice variety and comparable to imported rice in one of two local markets.
The WAB varieties were developed by AfricaRice and its partners, mainly for upland systems, but also for lowlands.
WABs for uplands
Several high-yielding ‘sativas’ from the WAB series have proven popular among upland farmers, where yield, quality and disease resistance are important attributes. Before the arrival of the upland NERICA varieties, the most popular varieties for the upland environment were WAB 56-50, WAB 56-104 and WAB 56-125.
The WAB varieties are widely cultivated in uplands, including high elevations, in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Madagascar. For example, the variety EDIGET (WAB189-B-B-B-HB) is a popular variety in Ethiopian highlands.
WABs for rainfed lowlands and irrigated zones
The WAB varieties have also been released for irrigated and rainfed lowlands in Burundi, Ethiopia, Guinea and Rwanda.
WAB 638-1, an aromatic variety, which is locally called “Akadi” is a popular variety in Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon.