The interspecific lines were evaluated across Africa by farmers through participatory varietal selection (PVS), which is an innovative approach that allows farmers to select their preferred varieties that match their needs and growing conditions. PVS also generates valuable feedback on farmers’ preference criteria for rice breeders (see Box "Involving farmers in the breeding process").

The most successful lines, based on their performance and popularity among farmers, were named the New Rice for Africa (Nerica) varieties. Nerica is now a household name in Africa – synonymous with the work that earned AfricaRice several international awards including the World Food Prize conferred in 2004 to plant biologist Monty Jones, who was Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture from February 2016 to March 2018.

High-yielding, early-maturing, stress-tolerant, rich in protein

The first Nerica varieties were released in Côte d’Ivoire in 2000. Upland Nerica varieties give yields that are generally as good as the Asian rice varieties.