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The project will be conducted in 22 target countries: Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, The Gambia, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, and Sierra Leone in West Africa; Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya in ESA; and India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in SA. These countries have major rainfed rice production areas that are affected by abiotic stresses. The African countries included in the project have more than 14 million hectares of rice production, of which about 90% is under rainfed conditions. The SA countries have about 54.5 million hectares of rice production, of which approximately 51% is under rainfed conditions. In SA, a large rice area under the irrigated ecosystem also suffers from stresses such as submergence and excess salt.

Role of partners in project development and implementation: IRRI and AfricaRice have used a principle of working with local and multiple actors to achieve sustainable outcomes. They operate through collaboration with government, nongovernment, and private business partners. The partnerships are country-specific. In India, for the first time, this project has moved beyond research organizations and has developed linkages with the Ministry of Agriculture, state governments, mega-schemes of the federal government, international organizations and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) dealing with food and livelihood security and climate change, banks, public- and private-sector seed corporations, input providers, and farmer organizations.

IRRI scientists in Asia: IRRI scientists based at Los Baños, Philippines, conduct the upstream activities, in particular the phenotyping of germplasm, refinement of screening methods, identification of donors, mapping and validation of QTLs, and improved germplasm development, including marker-assisted selection (MAS). Breeders, physiologists, geneticists, and agronomists form teams for developing improved germplasm tolerant of the three major stresses. Social scientists and a GIS specialist work with the teams to conduct PVS, impact assessment, and mapping and targeting. Pathologists provide support for seed health and disease resistance evaluation as well as MAS, and improved germplasm will be analyzed for grain quality in the Grain Quality, Nutrition, and Postharvest Center. IRRI scientists from headquarters as well as scientists based in SA are responsible for implementing the work in the three SA countries, including coordinating the breeding networks, PVS and crop management work, socioeconomic studies, scaling up of seed production, dissemination, and varietal tracking. Bioinformatics support is provided by scientists based in the Crop Research Informatics Laboratory (CRIL) at IRRI’s headquarters.

AfricaRice and IRRI scientists in Africa: Scientific disciplinary strength in the African component of the project is similar to that for South Asia, with each stress addressed by an interdisciplinary team. AfricaRice scientists include breeders, molecular biologists, agronomists, physiologists, economists, and specialists on GIS, technology transfer, seeds, and gender. Most are based at AfricaRice’s headquarters at Cotonou, Benin, but some are based at other sites (Senegal, Nigeria, and Tanzania). IRRI scientists based at the new AfricaRice/IRRI facility in Tanzania and in Mozambique are also involved, and IRRI’s ESA activities are coordinated by the plant breeder based in Tanzania. Also, the INGER-Africa coordinator and the Africa Rice Breeding Task Force assisted by NARES task force regional coordinators (for West and Central Africa and for East and Southern Africa) coordinate and facilitate involvement of the SSA NARES in the research and seed dissemination activities of the project. involvement of the SSA NARES in the research and seed dissemination activities of the project.