In order to aid capacity building, communication and understanding of the Potentials of genetically modified crops and as well monitor the progress of the NEWEST Rice Project in Nigeria, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology(OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria Chapter organised a seeing is believing tour for the Members of the media
Nitrogen deficiency is one of the main challenges faced by rice farmers in Nigeria and is mostly acute in the highly weathered upland areas where an average yield of only one tonne per hectare, which is about 25 percent of yield potential, has been recorded. Also, nitrogen is difficult to retain when applied in lowland areas due to floods and flowing water that characterise such areas.
The access to fertilizer by farmers (in terms of affordability to purchase and availability of the fertilizer) is one major concern which the Nitrogen Use Efficient rice seeks to address. Also, drought and high salinity affects rice productivity in the upland and lowland regions where rice is cultivated. These constraints are what the Salt Tolerant and Water Efficient rice seeks to address.
On the overall, the Nitrogen use Efficient, Water Efficient and Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) Rice Project, aims at overcoming the above mentioned challenges and improving rice productivity to its maximum. The trial site for the project was commissioned in November 2015 at the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) Baddeggi, Niger State and since then has made significant progress.
So far the research has clearly indicated success and breakthrough in the growth rate of the Nitrogen Use Efficient (NUE) rice planted at Zero fertilizer application. Yield of this NUE rice variety is also expected to be the same with the 30%, 60 % and 90% fertilizer application. Going forward, trials for Water Efficiency and Salt Tolerance will be carried out subsequently after which the modified seed will be introgressed into the local rice variety.