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Designer rice for Mozambique

Mozambicans will soon get locally-grown rice developed especially to meet local consumer preferences

Following extensive testing across Mozambique, Makassane was chosen as the best tasting locally-grown rice variety. It has an attractive long grain, a nice texture when eaten, and has disease resistance, which is very important to local farmers.

Makassane is the first rice variety bred by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that has been designed especially for Mozambique consumers and farmers to ensure it suits local market needs and production conditions.
“This is just the beginning,” said Dr Surapong Sarkarung, IRRI’s coordinator for rice breeding in East and Southern Africa. “We have recently identified many promising potential new rice varieties that combine superior grain quality with high yield and resistance to major diseases, and are suitable for growing in Mozambique.”

“If better varieties like Makassane can be more widely adopted, Mozambique could become both self-sufficient in rice and a rice exporter because the grain quality of Makassane and the other rice varieties we are developing meet international quality standards.”Following the approval of Makassane for release by the Mozambique Variety Release Committee earlier this month, IRRI provided government agencies and farmers “foundation seed” to use in bulking up the seed so that more can be produced and distributed to more farmers.

Field research shows that Makassane can produce the same amount (6-7 tonnes per hectare) as the current most popular variety, Limpopo. However, Makassane has two distinct advantages - its grain quality is significantly better and it is resistant to two major diseases - bacterial leaf blight and blast - which can both cause serious grain losses in Limpopo. In addition, Makassane has a higher milling recovery (about 80 per cent) than Limpopo (70 per cent).

This research was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mozambique Platform for Agricultural Research and Technology Innovation, supported by USAid.