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, commonly known as African rice
, is a domesticated rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...
species. African rice is believed to have been domesticated 2,000-3,000 years ago in the inland delta of the Upper Niger river
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...
, in what is now Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...
. Its wild ancestor, which still grows wild in Africa, is Oryza barthii
Oryza barthii is a grass in the rice genus Oryza. It is an annual, erect to semierect grass. It has leaves with a short ligule Oryza barthii is a grass in the rice genus Oryza. It is an annual, erect to semierect grass. It has leaves with a short ligule Oryza barthii is a grass in the rice genus...
This species is grown in West Africa, and shows several negative characteristics with respect to the Asian rice species O. sativa
Oryza sativa, commonly known as Asian rice, is the plant species most commonly referred to in English as rice. Oryza sativa is the cereal with the smallest genome, consisting of just 430Mb across 12 chromosomes...
, such as shattering, brittle grain and poor milling quality. More importantly, it consistently shows lower yields than O. sativa
, but African rice often shows more tolerance to fluctuations in water depth, iron toxicity, infertile soils, severe climatic conditions and human neglect, and exhibits better resistance to various pests and diseases, such as nematodes (Heterodera sacchari
spp.), African gall midge, RSNV, rice yellow mottle virus and the parasitic plants Striga
Striga, commonly known as witches weed, is a genus of 28 species of parasitic plants that occur naturally in parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Witchweeds are characterized by bright-green stems and leaves and small, brightly colored flowers. Furthermore, they are obligate parasites of roots...
Scientist from the Africa Rice Center managed to cross-breed African rice with Asian rice varieties to produce a interspecific cultivar called NERICA, which is an acronym for "New Rice for Africa".