CRI develops new rice varieties to increase local production

By
Kwabia Owusu-Mensah, GNA

Fumesua (Ash), April
09, GNA – The Crop Research Institute (CRI), of the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR), at Fumesua near Kumasi is using science and
technology innovations to boost commercial production of local food crops,
especially rice in the country.

This is part of CRI’s
move to execute its mandate as a research hub for crops, in a bid to position
itself at the forefront of leveraging on scientific and technological
innovations, that would ensure phenomenal increase in the cultivation of rice
and other food staples in the country.   

CRI is doing this by
increasing the accessibility and availability to farmers its newly-improved
quality, high yielding and disease resistant crop seeds.

The goal is to support
the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative and other major agricultural
interventions, being pursued by the government to improve food security, as a
catalyst for the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.

To demonstrate this,
crop scientists and breeders from the Institute have for the first time
developed and released six new rice varieties to scale up the commercial
production of quality rice.  

The development of the
varieties, four of which were from local crosses of the CRI, is seen as an
unprecedented and a major milestone for national crop research in Ghana.

 It is aimed at boosting food security and a
resultant reduction in rice importation into the country.

 The 2017 annual scientific report made
available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi indicated that the six new
varieties were expected to respond to the industry challenges of low
production, low average yield and poor grain quality and  to “satisfy the strong demand for
high-yielding jasmine and conventional US long grain rice types, the most
preferred rice choices in Ghana.

“The six new
varieties, which have been accepted and approved by the National Varietal
Release Committee, are CRI-Dartey, CRI-Kantinka, CRI-Emopa, CRI-Mpuntuo, CRI-Oboafo
and CRI-Aunty Jane,” the report indicated.   

Ghana’s rice import
bill is said to be about $600 million, regardless of the country’s potential to
produce to meet local and international demands and according to the report,
besides maize, rice is the second most important cereal and major staple in
Ghana.

The Ministry of Food
and Agriculture (MOFA) estimates that the annual per capita consumption of rice
is about 40kg per person and is expected to increase to 63kg by the end of
2019.  

The Institute believes
that all the six varieties, suitable for lowland and irrigated ecologies, with
their potential for higher yields, tolerance to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus
Disease and Iron toxicity, will boost acceptability by farmers as they have
high raising, easy cooking and aromatic qualities.

GNA

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