East Africa and mainly the Great Lakes region are among the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Africa. Studies indicate that climatic change will induce increasing temperature and declining rainfall in East Africa with frequent periods of drought which may intensify crop disease occurrence and severity. Also by impacting on both pests and host plants, climate change may enable some pests and diseases to expand beyond their current locations.
A project on “Mitigating climate change impact on rice disease resistance in East Africa,” was launched in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, 1-2 Jun 2010 to help address the urgent demand for climate-proof disease-resistant rice varieties and help adapt crop management practices to climate change, thus greatly reducing farmer risk.
Research results are expected to lead to the development of rice varieties resistant to strains of blast and bacterial leaf blight in the region and of rice management practices adapted to climate change. Breeders will directly benefit because of greatly improved knowledge of pathogen strains and related rice resistance genes and alleles.
Results will be used to determine the likely impact of climate change on rice disease occurrence and severity, develop recommendations for farmers to adapt crop management practices reducing the risk of disease related yield loss, and guide breeders in development of climate proof, disease resistant rice varieties for different rice production situations.