African farmers develop their own rice cultivars
NERICA (New Rice for Africa), the hybrid rice cultivar selected in the mid nineties from African and Asian rice, is hailed as a great biotechnological success. Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands have now discovered hybrids in West Africa that also derive from African and Asian Rice, but are the result of spontaneous selection and have a different genetic composition. The hybrids were bred over the years by farmers selecting them for their positive properties; difficult conditions in times of war and conflict also expedited this selection. These findings show that African farmers are playing an active role in the improvement of seed.