News Date : 27 June, 2022
Today the 27th June 2022, we celebrate the first successful trial of the water-saving and drought resistant rice. The ceremony was held at BUAN A1 field in the presence of the Honourable Acting President, Slumber Tsogwane to harvest and taste the first water saving and drought resistant rice. Amongst the guests were the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana His Excellency, Wang Xuefeng and Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Honourable Molebatsi Shimane Molebatsi. The ceremony is a result of a memorandum of understanding that was signed in the year 2020 between African agriculture (AA) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) to cooperate and work together in improving Agricultural production in Botswana. It is then that the idea of testing rice production started. Consultations were done and a Rice Team comprising Agricultural experts from BUAN and African Agriculture staff. Seeds were sourced from China where organizations like Shanghai Agrobiological gene Center, An Hui China, and Jiangsu Provincial Seed department got involved on an advisory basis where necessary
For Season 2020/2021 seven rice types were tested for their production potential under the Sebele climatic conditions and soils. The seven types were planted in late December 2020. These types performed well but could not complete grain filling process because they started flowering in Winter. Pests observed were Aphids, bugrada bug and leaf roller worms. Bacterial Panicle blight disease was observed at flowering. The rice plants were harvested as stova for livestock feed. Three rice types were chosen for further testing.
For Season 2021/22 three types selected for the season are AA073, AA128, and AA212. They were dry planted and germinated from 19 November 2021. Land was well prepared and levelled, planting rows were marked 25 cm apart. A hand planter was used to plant at a seed rate if 30 kg per hectare. In row spacing of 10-15 cm ideal. Side shoots or tillers developed, and these are important as they also developed heads adding more to the ultimate yield. It took the rice types an average period of 90 days to boot and flower. Pests and diseases were low as compared to the previous season. Bacterial panicle blight appeared with less severity. Bugrada bug caused some spikelet losses were sprayed for it using Dichlorvos pesticide. The three rice types all managed to reach grain filling stage and got ready for harvesting from 125 days onwards. Two types AA128 and AA212 proved to be good for Gaborone area as they are early to medium season types. They do not have high water need requirements. These rice types have proved to give an average of 9 tonnes per hectare if supplemented with irrigation during dry spells. The rice plant stova will be harvested and prepared for livestock feed.
This research has proved that despite popular believe that rice cannot grow in dry land, we have rice that can grow in dry land and do not need high water requirements.The rice trials will be extending to other areas like Maun, Tuli Block, Borolong, Pandamatenga among others. The trials aim to bring rice production to the farmers so that they become self-reliant in production of food security crops for the nation.