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NERICA, Planting Rice in the Driest Regions of Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Rice Center helped develop New Rice for Africa or NERICA rice variety for planting in Sub-Saharan Africa’s dry-lands.

Rice is a staple food in Africa, its growing importance is evident in the food security planning policies of many countries, and West Africa is the major contributor to rice production in Africa.
Coumbayel Coulibaly displays a calabash full of the
high-yielding New Rice for Africa variety.
In 1992 the Africa Rice Center with benefactors, notably CGIAR, Gatsby Foundation, IFAD, Japan, Rockefeller Foundation, UNDP and World Bank began work on cultivating a new rice species. 

AfricaRice developed a new breed of rice with desirable traits tailored to growing in the African climate. The new variety New Rice for Africa or NERICA now has 18 different varieties suitable for the upland (dry-land) rice ecology of sub-Saharan Africa.

Rice is a staple food in Africa and its growing importance is evident in the food security planning policies of many countries. There are 39 rice-producing countries in Africa attempting to meet the needs of the continent but farmers fall short and meet about 42% of demand the remaining rice is imported at a great expense.  

Africa's inability to reach self-sufficiency in rice production is due partly to low levels of modern growing techniques and skills and irrigation issues. West Africa is the major contributor to rice production in Africa. The major producers in West Africa include Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria.

Dry-land rice production is strictly rain fed, this is the most extensive rice ecosystem in Africa, and has a great influence on the total rice output. The only source of water is rain, so the crop is highly vulnerable to drought as a result of erratic and poor rains. 

However, NERICA varieties are suitable for the dry-land rice ecology of sub-Saharan Africa in order to increase rice production and aiding Africa in becoming self-sufficient rice producers.

In Africa, rice is cooked simply in salted water or ground into flour, accompanies the majority of fish, meat, bean and vegetable dishes. Women prepare the rice according to a traditional technique. Rice has become a major staple food in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Rice one of the single most important sources of dietary calories in West Africa and the third most important crop after wheat and corn. Rice is not only a vital part of African culture but also a favorite food. 

Despite NERICA rice variety plantings, long-grain white rice imported from Thailand and Vietnam are more widely consumed by most West Africans.

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