Irrigated and Rain-Fed Lowland Rice Breeding in Uganda: A Review
Zewdu Ayalew, Zelalem
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Since introduction of rice into Uganda in 1904, improvement of the irrigated and rain-fed lowland types was undertaken to address a number of production and quality constraints in three consecutive and overlapping phases. The initial phase was achieved through evaluation of introduction, selection of promising lines and subsequent release of the selected lines for production by the farmers. In the second phase, genetic potential of traits and characteristics of interest were analyzed and used to guide selection of suitable parents for hybridization and the third phase employed genotyping approach in screening and selection of the parental lines and the segregating populations to enhance the breeding efficiency for the traits of importance. Simultaneously, the key production constraints addressed included resistance to rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV), rice blast, bacterial leaf blight and narrow leaf spot diseases as well as submergence tolerance and cold tolerance. The quality traits considered for the improvement alongside the grain yield parameters were the grain aroma, amylose content, shape and size. These interventions have resulted into release and wide adoption of seven rice varieties in Uganda besides several breeding lines which have informally diffused into different major rice production agro-ecology. Subsequently, it can be concluded that a substantially strong and functional breeding platform for rice in Uganda has been established.