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