Until recently, there was limited research on breeding upland rice varieties. Moreover, there is an increasing expansion of rice production from traditional irrigated production areas to rain‐fed environments in the East African region, where drought problem is a serious challenge. To date, several initiatives aimed at increasing rice production have been made. Of the initiatives, promotion of upland rice production has been the most important in Uganda, but yield penalty due to drought continued to be a major drawback. This article traces progress in the upland rice breeding that started with improvement of late maturing varieties that had nonpreferred cooking qualities. Initially, introduced lines were evaluated and released. These varieties are the ‘New Rice for Africa’ (NERICA) that had been generated from interspecific crosses involving Oryza glaberrima and Oryza sativa. Several studies to understand the mode of gene action and modified pedigree breeding approaches for drought tolerance were conducted and used to develop new rice varieties. Up to 11 improved upland rice varieties were released and deployed in the country from 2002 to 2011 as a result of this initiative.
Part of the book: Advances in International Rice Research
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.
Part of the book: Cereal Grains