New genotypes and irrigation management to boost rice micronutrient levels in Ghana
About the project
UK-registered Partner: Lancaster Environment Centre – Ian Dodd
Africa-registered Partner: Wienco Ghana Ltd – Eugene Zori
Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) is a water saving irrigation technique applied to rice, a water-intensive crop traditionally grown with continuous flooding (CF). While extensive Asian evaluations of AWD have demonstrated significant (approximately 30%) water savings without yield penalties, how African rice genotypes respond to the technique has attracted little attention. AWD might boost grain micronutrient concentrations, which is especially important in an African context as “hidden hunger” (micronutrient deficiency) is thought to afflict a quarter of the African population.
Field trials were established at 4 sites in Ghana (across 3 regions that collectively contribute more than half Ghana’s domestic rice production) to evaluate the impacts of irrigation (AWD versus CF) and genotype (2 white and 2 red varieties, with the latter postulated to have higher micronutrient levels). The AWD technique was demonstrated to local farmers at the field sites, to showcase its simplicity and the quality of the resulting crops.
At all sites, AWD significantly decreased crop water use without affecting grain yields. Improved varieties (recently released from CSIR’s breeding programme) produced similar yields to traditional varieties. Although grain macronutrient (potassium) concentration consistently differed between genotypes, grain micronutrient (iron, zinc) concentration did not differ between white and red varieties. Irrigation technique did not affect grain nutritional quality.
Farmers were interested in the AWD technique, as water savings provided the possibility of double cropping where reservoirs were available for water storage. Additional open days with farmers are planned in Ghana to further disseminate the technique.
Learn more about the project in this recording from our recent GCRF AgriFood Africa Project Showcase event.