FAO in Madagascar - Comoros - Mauritius - Seychelles

The success of hybrid rice cultivation in Madagascar is looming

Copyright FAO, Mahitsy-Madagascar, 2020

April 29, 2020, Mahitsy / Antananarivo - A delegation of ten people led by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) went to Mahitsy on April 23, 2020 to inspect the cultivated hybrid rice on a 40 hectare plot, which will be harvested at the end of April.

The first sowing of Weichu 902-3 hybrid rice specie was carried out in December 2019. The seeds were produced by the Yuan Madagascar company and supplied by the South-South Cooperation (SSC) project launched in Madagascar since October 2019. The project is funded for two years by the FAO-China SSC Programme, and coordinated and implemented by the MAEP. This project is implemented in three Regions: the Analamanga (Mahitsy) and Alaotra-Mangoro (Ambatondrazaka) Regions where the introduction of hybrid rice was carried out, and the DIANA Region (at CEFTEL Antanamitarina) for the improvement of the small ruminants breeding and associated fodder crops.


Results to date from hybrid rice cultivation are very encouraging

In Mahitsy, the demonstration area covers three sites and the cultivation of the Weichu 902-3 was tested during the growing season. The work was carried out with small rotary tillers and with the help of local rice farmers. At this stage of harvest, a yield of 10 tons per hectare is expected in Mahitsy, compared to the current average yield of 2.8 tons per hectare.


"Our efforts have been rewarded," said Rafaravololona Hanta, adoptive rice farmer who expects a minimum yield of 8 tons per hectare for the soon harvest. She is one of the rice farmers who received technical training and support on hybrid rice. According to her, "the technique is not difficult but requires a lot of involvement. I plan to increase my area of cultivation for the next season. Rice farmers have to move away from traditional cultivation and switch to using hybrid rice seeds because the profitability is very good. ”


Since the launch of the project in October 2019 and throughout the past six months, collaboration between the Chinese SSC cooperants, their Malagasy counterparts, and MAEP technical agents, enabled the transfer of theoretical and practical knowledge on hybrid rice. This involved training courses on hybrid rice seed production techniques, hybrid rice cultivation techniques (grain soaking, seedling germination, transplanting, and fertilization with organic fertilizer), plant protection and pest control management of fields including tillage and maintenance, mechanization and machinery. The MAEP intends to intensify agricultural extension for the adoption of hybrid rice, by rice farmers in Madagascar. As such, the project has, so far, been able to train 310 farmers for the three regions of intervention (157 for Mahitsy/Analamanga Region). A total 300 rice farmers will be trained in Mahitsy, and at least 90 individuals are expected to adopt such techniques.

Within two years, the project aims to train the majority of MAEP technical agents and at least a total of 1,000 rice farmers in order to increase the country's rice yield to at least eight tons per hectare.


Hybrid rice farming is profitable

Growing hybrid rice requires following a well-established technical route, resulting in higher activity and input costs compared to traditional cultivation. However, hybrid rice offers great yield potential. A hectare of land irrigated and cultivated according to the established standard requires a budget of approximately USD 950 (total cost of activities and inputs) and will yield to the producer, on the basis of an average productivity of 10 tons per hectare and a paddy sale price of USD 0.2 - per kilogramme, about USD 1650.

Note that the project also deals with the agribusiness component to complete its interventions across the value chain. “Several areas of expertise have been mobilized, to cite, just one, for example post-harvest specialists who will strengthen national capacities to reduce post-harvest losses, which still constitute 10 to 15% of production today. FAO facilitates cooperation, promoting the exchange of technical experience and knowledge. The exchange of solutions will greatly contribute to improving food security, reducing poverty and promoting the sustainable management of natural resources“, said Mr. Patrice Talla Takoukam, FAO Representative.


Post-Covid recovery: hybrid rice at the heart of Madagascar strategy to boost rice production

“Produce locally” as pointed out by the FAO Director-General QU Dongyu is now more important than ever before to mitigate the lockdown effect especially for island countries.  Achieving rice self-sufficiency in Madagascar has become an absolute necessity for the country due to the decline in trade between countries linked to the pandemic.

The MAEP intends to boost rice production in large production basins, especially in coastal regions, which have the potential to make two or even three growing seasons per year. A concrete action plan has been established around three identified strategic actions to facilitate the access of growers to inputs. This assistance will very soon take the form of financial support by the Malagasy State through the “Dokany Mora ho an’ny Mpamokatra “(shops with inexpensive products for producers).