Climate-smart flood and salinity tolerant African rice


Start date: 1 April, 2020 End date: 30 September, 2026 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 19-03-KU Countries: Kenya Tanzania Thematic areas: Agricultural production, Climate change, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Kenya Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Ole Pedersen Total grant: 11,834,862 DKK

Project summary

Tanzania produces over 80% of rice produced in East Africa, and any reduction in productivity will influence regional food security. However globally, Tanzania is among the 13 countries to be most affected by climate change with severe risks of increase in both frequency and severity of fresh or saline floods, one of the most severe climate related risks for rice. Over 70% of rice in Tanzania is rainfed, where fresh or saline floods are common, already resulting in dramatic losses to farmers; in 2015, several regions were seriously affected by floods recognizing it as the most devastating natural hazard. Salinity and sodicity are also major threats in irrigated schemes and rainfed lowlands in Tanzania. We propose to identify novel genes and large-effect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) responsible for tolerance to salinity andflooding stresses, including flooding during crop establishment where anaerobic germination (AG) is required. Ultimately, we aim at deploying promising genes and QTLs into short-maturing African varieties to produce climate-smart cultivars tolerant of both fresh and saline floods and saline soils, that are suitable for direct seeding to reduce production cost and sustain East-African rice productivity in a climate change scenario. The project engages with public and private partners in the rice value chain to disseminate project findings and stimulate ownership of the ultimate end products - new climate-smart rice cultivars in an African context.


Midterm report
Objectives: Phenotyping for anaerobic germination (AG) and salinity tolerance is completed, but phenotyping for submergence tolerance is delayed. QTL mapping for salinity tolerance and AG is progressing, lines have been screened and genotypic data made available. Marker assisted breeding has been replaced with GWAS. Capacity building has been challenged by Covid-inflicted travel restrictions with particularly strict Philippine regulations challenging training at IRRI. Recently, some staff has visited IRRI for training, and online activities have also been ongoing.

Status for outputs: several activities with key outputs are ongoing, but a number of outputs has already emerged: 1) mapping of salt- or flood-affected rice growing areas are now available as GIS-based maps, 2) farmer surveys have been conducted, 3) construction of a new screenhouse and establishment of key infrastructure have been completed and 4) a large (>300) collection of geo-referenced African landraces was establish at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). Moreover, training of 100 scientists in phenotyping, genotyping, plant breeding and modern rice production technologies is ongoing.

2 PhD students are close to graduation, and they have published 2 scientific papers. 1 newly enrolled PhD student is conducting screening for submergence tolerance. 3 SUA MSc students visited IRRI, and 1 UCPH MSc student will visit IRRI in 2023. Joint fieldwork with SUA students, SUA staff and IRRI staff was conducted.

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