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Revolutionizing Rice Cultivation: The Launch of Perennial Rice in Uganda with BGI Group

March 29, 2024 Views:

In the lush, green expanses of Uganda, groundbreaking agricultural innovation is taking root, promising to transform the landscape of rice cultivation in Africa and beyond. Under the framework of the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization)-China-Uganda UN South-South Cooperation (SSC) Program, perennial rice has been introduced into Uganda with the help of BGI Group. 


Dr. Jimmy Lamo, program leader for cereals at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Namulonge, Uganda, is one of the experts who has witnessed and played a key role in this development. 


Launched in December 2021, NARO Rice One, the commercial name of PR 107, a perennial rice variety from a synergistic collaboration between NARO, Yunnan University and BGI Group, has been unveiled in Uganda. What sets it apart is its resilience and yield, after the initial harvest, NARO Rice One regrows, delivering more than 50 percent of the first year's yield in subsequent harvests. This ability not only signifies a reduction in the labor and costs associated with replanting but also marks a significant step towards environmentally sustainable agriculture.


In Uganda, yielding 6 to 7 tons per hectare in its first harvest, NARO Rice One demonstrates remarkable productivity. With subsequent harvests every two months yielding 50 percent and then around 2 tons, the annual yield can reach up to 11 tons per hectare without the need for replanting. This efficiency not only benefits the environment by preserving soil integrity but also ensures a profitable venture for farmers.


“We are happy to mention that the parent (rice strain) used for the development of this variety is from Africa, called Oryza longistaminata.” Dr. Lamo explained with a sense of pride. The development process was propelled forward with the expertise of BGI Group, employing advanced genetic technologies to accelerate the breeding process. This variety is offering an innovative solution that reduces the need for new land cultivation while maintaining soil stability.


The rice variety also caters to the tastes and needs of the African market, featuring aromatic, light, non-sticky white grains that align with local production, consumption, and marketing patterns. Now officially released, NARO Rice One is poised for commercialization, ready to be distributed as certified seed to companies and, ultimately, farmers.


“Food security has an angle of the sufficiency of food. Rice’s capacity to be stored and transported to different places, makes it a very good source of food. Uganda has a high population, which is now estimated to be over 40 million. We are seeing the demand growing.” Dr. Lamo stated, “As NARO Rice One begins its journey from research labs to fields and markets, it will create a revolution in the rice industry and food security.”


This achievement is a call to action for scientists and the public across borders to recognize and embrace a product that promises to revolutionize the rice industry and bolster food security across the continent.


Uganda's pioneering role in the development and release of this variety has solidified its position as a leader in agricultural innovation, fostering strengthened collaborations with China and other African nations.