The project Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) was started by IRRI at the end of 2007 in collaboration with AfricaRice to develop and deliver rice varieties that are tolerant to abiotic stresses for the millions of farmers in rainfed rice-growing environments in Asia and Africa.
STRASA, conceived as a 10-year project, delivered the improved varieties to at least 18 million farmers on the two continents. The project ends boasting of significant spillover effects for non-participating countries particularly on the use of developed stress-tolerant rice varieties and participation to a regional cooperation on seed exchange agreement.
Seed and seed systems: South Asia
STRASA Phase 3 (2014-19) made good progress in releasing and disseminating 71 stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) in India (58), Bangladesh (6), and Nepal (7), of which 27 are drought tolerant, 23 are submergence tolerant, 12 are salinity tolerant, and nine are tolerant to multiple stresses [drought and heat (2), drought and submergence (6), and submergence and salinity (1)]. The nine multiple stress-tolerant rice varieties included five from India (DRR 52, DRR 47, Sukha dhan 5, CR dhan 801, and CR dhan 802), one from Bangladesh (BRRI dhan78), and three from Nepal (Sukha dhan 6, Bahuguni dhan-1, and Bahuguni dhan-2) which were also released and disseminated in South Asia. The coverage of these rice varieties is progressively increasing every year because of their tolerance to multiple stresses, early maturity and suitability to local cropping systems, good taste, and good market price. Twenty-two (22) more STRVs, including four that are multiple stress-tolerant, have been released during the project’s final year, 2018-19.
Widespread and persistent rural poverty is a longstanding problem in both Asia and Africa, particularly in rainfed ecosystems where rice is grown without irrigation.
For the past 11 years, the STRASA project has worked in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in South Asia; in Nigeria, Benin, and Senegal in Sub-Saharan Africa; in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, The Gambia, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, and Sierra Leone in West Africa; and in Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya in East and South Africa.
Under the three phases of the project, more than 150 climate-smart rice varieties that are tolerant to flood, drought, and salinity, including multiple tolerance in a variety, were released in various countries in South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. Several more are in the process of being released.
In addition to improving varieties and distributing seeds, the STRASA project was able to train 74,000 farmers and scientists —including 19,400 women farmers—in producing good-quality seeds through its capacity-building component.
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.