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Mission and vision

The mission is to reduce poverty and hunger and increase food and income security of resource-poor farm families and rice consumers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa through the development and dissemination of high-yielding rice varieties tolerant of abiotic stresses. 

The vision—to reduce poverty and to stabilize rice production in drought- and flood-plagued rainfed ecosystems through the use of modern technology—is at the heart of IRRI and AfricaRice’s missions. Higher and more reliable rice productivity will directly increase the quantity of food available to poor households both through increased yields during stress years and by farmers being more willing to invest in inputs as the fear of total crop loss diminishes. This will also raise the income of poor landless

households as family members are employed as hired labor in rice production. Increased production will benefit the poor households that buy rice by keeping its price low. In addition, higher rice productivity will promote diversification into income-generating activities as family food needs can be met from using less land and labor. The cumulative effect of these factors can provide a strong foundation for reducing poverty. STRASA Phase 2 (and by 2014, phase 3) targets the 20 million poor farmers in SA and SSA who have received limited benefits from major developments in rice technologies.

During Phase 2, the delivery of improved stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) were scaled up reaching a much larger number of farmers and covering as much area as possible with the improved cultivars. By the end of this three-year phase, about 35,000 tons of high-quality seed of stress-tolerant rice varieties have been produced (10,000 in SSA and 25,000 in SA). An additional 75,000 tons were produced through informal systems. In this phase, the goal for dissemination of seed reached 5 million farmers (0.4 million in SSA and 4.6 million in SA). 

Entering Phase 3 in 2014, we feel encouraged to raise the target number of farmers to 20 million over the 10 years of the project, provided additional resources become available for further dissemination and outscaling.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds the third phase of this IRRI-led STRASA project with US$32.77 million for five more years (see related story here). The STRASA project began in 2007, with its first two phases funded with about $20 million each.

 “Under the past phases of the project, 16 climate-smart rice varieties tolerant of flood, drought, and salinity were released in various countries in South Asia; about 14 such varieties were released in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Abdelbagi Ismail, IRRI scientist and STRASA project leader. “Several more are in the process of being released.”

In addition to improving varieties and distributing seeds, the STRASA project trains farmers and scientists in producing good-quality seeds. Through the project’s capacity-building component, 74,000 farmers—including 19,400 women farmers—underwent training in seed production.

The project has also influenced regional policies through enhanced cross-border sharing of information. This has helped facilitate the faster release of climate-smart varieties and the broader sharing of seeds in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, especially among poor farmers who are most affected by climate change.