In West Africa, the lowlands represent about 20–50 million hectares, so they offer great potential for the sustainable expansion and intensification of rice. The development of the lowland varieties was facilitated through the shuttle-breeding approach (see Insert below) in partnership with national programmes in West and Central Africa through a task force mechanism to accelerate the selection process and achieve wide adaptability of the lowland Nericas.

Sixty rainfed lowland Nerica varieties ­(Nerica-L) were selected by farmers in several African countries through the PVS process, including over 550 farmers in Burkina Faso. The varieties have a yield potential of six to seven tonnes per hectare and a good resistance to major lowland stresses such as iron toxicity and weed infestation or highly destructive diseases (e.g. the rice yellow mottle virus – RYMV) and pests (e.g. the African rice gall midge – AfRGM, stemborers or nematodes). The first lowland Nericas were released in 2005.