Rice farmers in Nigeria will now have a new variety of the crop to add to the many other varieties available to them.
The variety, which has over 25% yield advantage over the popular GAWAL R1, was developed by the Rice Seed Project implemented in Nigeria by Green Agriculture West Africa Limited (GAWAL).
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The new rice seed, called Mayun 1 (hybrid rice variety), was introduced to the farmers and stakeholders at a field meeting at the GAWAL farm project in Abuja.
The Rice Seed Project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Wang Xuemin, the assistant managing director of GAWAL, said the project was aimed at helping West African countries to establish rice seed systems that would guarantee food security and quality yield.
“This year, our company established four trial locations across Nigeria for the experiment and comparison of three elite rice varieties, which are Faro 44, GAWAL R1 and Mayun 1 (hybrid rice variety) with one location in Abuja.
“Based on our yield measurement of 66 m2 for each variety in Abuja, the calculated yields of Faro 44, GAWAL R1 and Mayun 1 are 5.6 mt/ha, 7.0mt/ha and 8.7 mt/ha respectively with the transplanting method.
“GAWAL R1’s yield is 25% higher than that of Faro 44 and Mayun 1 is 55% higher than Faro 44.
He also stated that “In the next step, we will focus on the establishment of rice extension system and improvement of rice research system in collaboration with the agriculture research institutes such as National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI), National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), IITA, Bwari Area Council and agricultural research and extension services in Nigeria.
“We are aiming to introduce and register many more good quality and high-yield new rice varieties, contributing to the increase of Nigerian rice farmers,” he said.
In 2017, the company successfully registered a high yield rice variety – GAWAL R1 in Nigeria – which outperforms the local rice varieties.
Xuemin said with more people getting to know GAWAL R1 through different channels, a growing number of Nigerian farmers and organisations have been reaching out to buy GAWAL R1 rice seeds.
“It is our hope that through this event, rice farmers can have a look at the performance of rice on-site in person and realize the importance of quality rice seed to achieve high yield.
“Besides, it is also a good opportunity for us to exchange ideas about how to enhance rice production and establish a rice seed system in Nigeria,” he added.
Dr Olusegun Ojo, Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) at the field meeting, said GAWAL had been doing well and meeting up with demand from NASC.
“Our partnership with GAWAL has made us know requirements for seeds production both in China and Nigeria.
“We implore for a closer relationship with GAWAL. Hybrid rice is what we are majorly looking for because of its level of productivity.
“We can see that GAWAL will go far because they are capacitated and better than other farmers that we are in partnership with”, Dr Ojo, whose organisation is responsible for coordinating and regulating seed production in Nigeria, said.
On his part, the Director of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Professor Zaki Abubakar, commended GAWAL for its contribution to enhancing rice production in the country.
He said the government would always welcome new and improved rice varieties.