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.
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.