Lifuwu Rice Research Station in Salima is set to release two new improved rice varieties in August this year for mass production by farmers nationwide.
Speaking during a farmer field day at the research station, Eliasi Jeke, a seasoned rice breeder at the station, said the new varieties have undergone a two-year trial and have shown desirable traits in both high-yielding and early maturity.
He said with the new varieties, farmers will be able to harvest at least 6.5 metric tonnes of paddy (unprocessed) rice.
Said Jeke: “The new varieties have also proved to withstand harsh climatic conditions such as stormy winds, heavy rains as well as water stress conditions”.
“We have replicated the trials at Nansolo in Chikwawa, Domasi in Zomba and Mkondezi in Nkhata Bay. Our farmers have also tried the varieties and the output has been impressive”.
Originated from Senegal and South Korea, the varieties are expected to improve Malawi’s rice output base, which is expected to boost foreign exchange earnings through exports.
The new rice varieties, which surpassed 11 other varieties during trials, were selected through a participatory variety selection in which rice farmers were given a leading role and were directly involved in the variety selection process.
One of the farmers from Domasi Irrigation Scheme in Zomba, Elina Kazembe, thanked Lifuwu Research Station for championing participatory approaches in their research processes.
He said he hopes the new varieties will improve both food security and household livelihood for the farmers due to their high-yielding traits.
Since 1971, Lifuwu Research Station has been the backbone of Malawi’s rice research as well as the centre for rice breeding.
It was given the special mandate in rice breeding in 2002, which led to accelerated research projects aimed at improving rice productivity in the country.
Some remarkable varieties the station recommended include kilombero and faya.