By – B. Z. Salihu
Green Super Rice (GSR) are rice that possess resistances to multiple insects and diseases, high nutrient efficiency, and drought resistance, promising to greatly reduce the consumption of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and water. These are, indeed, ideal rice varieties for farmers under the numerous farming challenges, especially the climate change.
In an MOU between the National Cereals Research Institute, Nigeria and the Institute of Crop Sciences (ICS), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), China; some GSR materials were evaluated across various locations in Nigeria. The project aimed at releasing multiple GSR varieties suitable for efficient cultivation in the diverse rice ecologies in Nigeria, addressing different rice farming challenges. Also, the project added training of rice farmers on improved agronomic practices and community seed system through on Farm Demonstration across Nigeria.
In May 2023, a pre-season training of the farmers across North Central Zone of Nigeria was held in Nasarawa State. The farmers were well equipped with necessary rice farming technologies that would boost their productivity during the season. The training was carefully scheduled to ensure successful transfer of the rice farming technologies. The representatives of the State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) were in attendance to ensure onward dissemination of the improve farming practices to larger rice farming community. A starter package of improved seed of GAWAL R1 variety was distributed to the farmers by the representatives of the Green Agriculture West Africa Limited – A collaborator on the project in Nigeria.
GSR varieties, introduced from China, were evaluated for drought tolerance during early 2023 dry season, with promising findings that will put a bunch of smiles in the face of the Nigerian farmers. From the trials, some promising entries, yielding between 6 and 9 tons per hectare after being exposed to the less water condition, have been selected for further screening at multi-locations across the country. Under optimum irrigation, the selects yielded between 7 and 11 tons per hectare. If some of the GSR varieties are eventually registered and released in Nigeria, they will definitely serve as a kind of surety to our resource poor farmers who majorly depend on rainfall lowland ecologies for their rice farming. The potential nutritional and economic benefits of the GSR varieties to the Nigerian farmers cannot be overemphasized.
The project is to ensure establishment of improved rice seed system in Nigeria and train young and progressive farmers across the rice growing areas of Nigeria.
If the nature feeds and shelters man from the time immemorial and the man’s intelligence has no optimum capacity to operate at the nature’s pace, wouldn’t it send down the rain? – B. Z. Salihu.
Thanks to the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for always putting smiles in the faces of many, including the farmers.