Disease is poised to wipe out much of Africa’s rice crop. Still-unapproved gene edited varietals may be the only hope
Rice is a key staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 60% of rice produced consumed there. However, the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus (RYMV) causes a disease that has the propensity to wipe out African rice crops.
Many of Africa’s rice producers have barely a hectare of land to themselves. In this environment, between 10% and 100% of rice yield is regularly lost to disease, putting strain on food security.
One of the researchers, Wolf B. Frommer, is an investigator at the Healthy Crops project, an international research consortium whose broad aim is to help smallholder African and Asian rice farmers increase yields and avoid diseases.
“We now also have edited blight resistant rice, especially relevant due to a major outbreak caused by the inadvertent introduction of Asian strains to East Africa, with major damage and rapid spread,” Frommer told FoodNavigator.
“We also have lines for Tanzania and East Africa that are resistant, and did not use editing, maybe not as good as the edited lines, but due to regulatory situation the best possible solution.”