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Ghana’s foremost agricultural research institute, the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, has out-doored nine (9) new rice varieties to the general public. The varieties, which comprise six lowland (rice that grows in paddy or flooded fields) and three upland (rice that is adapted to drier conditions and grows in drier soil) varieties are the result of several years of extensive research conducted by scientists of the Institute (Covisus). All nine varieties have already received approval from the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC) of Ghana.

The lowland varieties, namely CRI-Tuo Mo, CRI-Kang Mo, CRI-Korea Mo, CRI-Baakoye, CRI-Agyapa, and CRI-Onuapa, mature between 115 – 128 days and are high yielding with average yields of between 6 t/ha to 7 t/ha with some having a potential yield of up to 9 t/ha. They all possess quality consumer attributes and are also tolerant to the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus disease. Additionally, CRI-Baakoye, due to its high paste viscosity, is suitable for industrial use such as in the preparation of baby foods and breakfast cereals.  

Presenting the varieties to stakeholders such as researchers, extension agents and directors from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as well as rice farmers drawn from rice-growing communities such as Sokwae, Nobewam, Aframso and Kadjebi, Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, a Principal Research Scientist, and the leader of the rice breeding programme at the Institute, called on the Government of Ghana to increase its support for rice production in the country. “The millions of dollars we spend on rice importation yearly, can be reduced drastically, if we pay more attention to local rice production. There is an urgent need to increase genetic gain to meet domestic needs and reduce our import bill. We must put our money where our mouth is”, he intimated.

He also stated that a number of Government’s 1D1F initiatives can make good use of the newly-released varieties.  

Dr. Asante was grateful to the Korean Government for sponsoring the release of the varieties through its Rural Development Administration (RDA). The RDA-Korea Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI) sponsored the development and release of the lowland varieties while the KOPIA  Ghana Center supported the release of the upland varieties.

The three (3) upland varieties, namely, CRI KAFACI upland, CRI-Cho upland and CRI-Fosu upland are also aromatic with better grain quality and possess low to intermediate amylose content. They mature between 97 – 105 days and also have quality consumer attributes.

Economic analyses of all the nine varieties revealed high benefit-cost ratios indicating the gains farmers would make upon adoption of the varieties. Dr. Choong-Hoe Kim, the Director of KOPIA Ghana Center, who was present at the event indicated his optimism that the collaboration with the CSIR-Crops Research Institute would improve the adoption of modern technologies in rice production and help Ghana achieve rice self-sufficiency. He stressed on the problems facing the local rice production sector and drew comparisons with the Korean situation. “Ghana imports 950,000 MT of rice annually. This is a problem that needs to be solved urgently. Korea was faced with a similar situation about forty years ago, but with good agronomic practices and improved varieties, the situation was turned around successfully”, he indicated.

He stated that Ghana’s current average rice production of 3t/ha can be increased to the Korean figure of 10 t/ha if the needed support and attention is given to the industry. He pledged KOPIA’s continuous support and collaboration with the CSIR-CRI.

Madam Agnes Ofori, a rice farmer from Nobewam, was grateful for the release of the new varieties and lauded the CSIR-CRI for its continuous efforts at helping farmers increase their yields. “Rice farming is difficult but quite beneficial so we hope that these new varieties will help us to increase our yields and profits”, she said.

Speaking to the media after the event, Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, who is also the deputy director of the CSIR-CRI, called on the Government of Ghana to implement policies that will be beneficial to the rice industry. “Government must ensure that the seeds of improved varieties are made available to farmers together with fertilizers and good agronomic practices”. “The varieties alone, won’t be enough. We need to ensure good agricultural practices and application of the right amounts of fertilizer”. When these policies are combined, we will reach our full potential and make giant steps towards achieving rice self-sufficiency, said Dr. Maxwell Asante.