Sub-Saharan Africa countries should make innovations accessible to rice farmers to help boost crop production, an expert said Tuesday.

Principal Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Abdelbagi Ismail, said the region has to continue crop improvement by adopting high yielding climate resistance varieties.

“By 2040 the world population will require over 96 million tons of which 40 million tons will have to come from Africa,” Ismail said during an international rice symposium in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

He said that with the persistence of drought, floods, poor soils and climate change, the region requires new breeding scheme cycle to help increase the breeding period.

According to Ismail, regional countries stand to succeed once they adopt proper guidelines, polices and infrastructure for quality seed production.

“The countries also have to engage public, private and development organizations partnerships to enable them establish own varieties,” he added.

Ismail revealed that IRRI researchers had developed a new scheme that breeds hybrid seeds within a span of three years as opposed to the current eight years which is common in most sub-Saharan Africa countries.

The Director General of the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization, Eliud Kireger, said that Kenya produces 149,000 metric tons of rice annually while consumption is over 540,000 metric tons.

“The domestic deficit between production and consumption is met through imports which amount to 70 million U.S. dollars annually,” he revealed.

Kenya has currently implemented a policy aimed at doubling its rice production; however, several impediments such as drought, cold temperatures at high elevations, high salinity, low soil fertility, and rice blast disease, need to be addressed. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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