In Benin, NERICA adoption resulted in a 6% increase in school attendance, 14% increase in the gender parity index, and an increase of 11,400 CFA (about $20) in school expenditure per child. These were some of the findings from impact studies on NERICA adoption that were shared with research partners at the concluding workshop of the project on “The Research on Inter-specific Hybridization between African and Asian Rice Species (Phase III),” held at AfricaRice, Cotonou, Benin, 6-8 October.
This project, supported through the Japan-UNDP Partnership Fund, addressed food security and poverty reduction issues in selected African countries, through improved rice production as well as improved livelihood of small-scale farmers. The project was based on the outcomes of the researches conducted in the previous two phases.
The project covered AfricaRice member countries as well as selected countries of Central and Eastern Africa. Partnership with international institutions and universities engaged in rice research as well as coordination with parallel UNDP-funded projects was pursued.
Promising interspecific (NERICA) and Oryza sativa lines were identified through selection from segregating populations, evaluation of fixed lines for agronomic performance and specific stresses such as drought and pests. The project also focused on the development of new interspecific rice from the cross of O sativa and O. barthii, which is an ancestor of O. glaberrima and a wild species of African origin. The new interspecific rice is expected to widen the genetic diversity in farmers’ fields.