The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) recently released two new rice varieties – IR77713 and IR79511 – to boost production in lowland areas of the country (800-900 metres above sea level) and meet the rapidly-growing demand in Burundi.
Dr Joseph Bigirimana, IRRI’s liaison scientist and co-ordinator in Burundi, explains these varieties have been tested and evaluated in different regions across the country for three years in participatory variety selection (PVS) trials, in which farmers chose the rice varieties they liked most and that performed best.
He says that the new varieties not only gained favour for their high-yielding capability of up to 7t/ha – which is 1-1.5t more than the locally-grown varieties – but also because of their ability to mature two to three weeks earlier. Early-maturing varieties allow farmers to grow a second crop so that they can produce more food for their families or sell it. “This is important in Burundi because more than 90% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood.”
Bigirimana adds that farmers also ranked IR77713 and IR79511 highest in grain quality of unmilled, milled, and cooked rice. In addition, they found these varieties better tasting and looking compared with the locally-grown varieties during a sensory test.