News / Africa

Cameroon Researchers Develop New Rice Variety

Nerica rice on display at the Yaounde Science Innovation Expo in June 2013 (VOA / E. Nforngwa)
Nerica rice on display at the Yaounde Science Innovation Expo in June 2013 (VOA / E. Nforngwa)
Eugene Nforngwa
Its 7am at the Yaounde city hall. The 2013 edition of the National Science and Innovation Expo has just opened. A man is making an announcement over the public address system. Government officials, scientists, and a curious public are all here to discover the work of the country’s top researchers. There is much to see: pest resistant cocoa, a beverage made from oil palm sap, solar panels, energy-saving stoves. There is even medicine made from roots and barks; and a locally manufactured brickmaking machine.
 
But it’s Stand-17 that has caught most people’s attention. It belongs to the state-run Institute of Agricultural Research and Development (IRAD). Over the past years, the institute has been working on a new and improved rice variety that can grow on dry land and produce much more than other varieties. Today, it is on exhibition and has been named nerica. The researchers say it is going to completely change rice production in Cameroon and Africa.
 
Nerica takes only three months from when it is planted to when it is harvested. Because its roots do not sink deep, it can grow on dry ground. There is no need for irrigation because Cameroon’s abundant rainfall is enough. Standing only 60 to 70 centimeters tall, nerica is also easier to harvest compared to other varieties that can be more than one meter tall.
 
Madeleine Akoa works at the rice unit of IRAD and has been explaining the breakthrough to visitors ever since the Expo opened. She says the rice variety can adapt to any ecological condition and easily integrates existing planting seasons and practices.
 
"Its advantages," she says, "are that it requires little work and there is no need for irrigation in the rainy season. It can be cultivated in the same way that corn is cultivated. If you plant in August, you can begin harvesting in November and December."
 
IRAD did not invent nerica, which is a cross-breeding of African and Asian species.  Initial research was conducted by the Africa Rice Center, formerly the West African Rice Development Association, based in Benin Republic. The first seeds were planted in 1996. Since then, governments and research institutions across the continent have been pushing for its adoption by African farmers.
 
What the developers consider exciting is the fact that it can yield up to four tons of high quality rice per hectare. This is significant for Cameroon, which is a net importer of rice.
 
Local production accounts for less than 40% of the national need. In 2011, it imported more than 550,000 metric tons of rice at CFA145 billion or US$90 million. By mid-2012, it had already purchased from abroad an estimated 366,000 tons. Authorities expect that even more rice would be imported this year due to the growing demand, estimated at 650,000 metric tons annually. 
 
Many attempts have been made to raise local production. In June, Japan pledged to fund the mechanization of small-scale rice production for roughly CFA100 million, about US$200,000. The World Bank has also announced a US$108 million project, which includes reopening rice farms in northern Cameroon. Meantime, a Chinese company is growing rice in Cameroon for both the local market and for its own markets.

But at the food section of the Yaounde central market, just a stone’s throw from the city hall, it is hard to find locally grown rice. At a wholesale shop, there are more than 100 sacks piled at the far end. There is Thai rice, Chinese rice, Indonesian rice, Brazilian rice but not a single sack of Cameroonians rice. 
 
Akoa says the challenge for IRAD is to encourage Cameroonian growers to adopt nerica
 
"IRAD wants to popularize this rice variety so that any Cameroonian, including the average peasant, can grow their own rice, even if it’s only for home consumption," she says.
 
"Imported rice contains a lot of additives and lacks many essential nutrients," she says. "But rice produced in Cameroon is more nutritious, firstly because its oil and fiber are not extracted and it has not been significantly modified."
 
But increasing local production could take a long time.  Only 63,000 metric tons of rice was domestically milled in 2012, down from 85,000 in 2011. This year, the forecast is a dismal 70,000 metric tons.​
Listen to report on new rice varieties for Cameroon
Listen to report on new rice varieties for Cameroon i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid