Annual meeting at Sokoine University of Agriculture

After a difficult start under the Covid-19 lockdowns, we are now meeting annually at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, Tanzania. These meetings are priceless since our monthly Zoom meetings cannot fully replace the face-to-face meetings where we can inspect the rice in the screenhouses and discuss current challenges.

Student presentations are also a key component of the annual meetings, where each student affiliated with the project gets the opportunity to present their research and obtain valuable feedback from the scientists involved. There has been some delay due to the difficult start but also due to newly installed rules and regulations at SUA requiring MSc students to have one paper published and another submitted prior to their defense. Similar rules for PhD students apply: two papers published and one submitted. It has been necessary to extend the scholarships of MSc students accordingly, and the students are expected to hand in their theses in due time.

The project has been extraordinarily productive with 10 papers published and 10 more submitted (or close to) in just 3 years. We have also screened a large number of genotypes for tolerance to salinity or anaerobic germination, and it is only the submergence component that is seriously delayed. However, we are currently construction a huge submergence facility enabling screening of hundreds of genotypes at the time in various stages of their development so we will catch up within the next year. The submergence component has been additionally strengthened by the enrolment of a new PhD student who will work dedicated on flood tolerance of African genotypes.

We are currently construction a new state-of-the-art submergence facility at SUA, which will be used to screen for submergence tolerance. This facility will be the one and only in the region, and it will therefore provide SUA with a competitive edge in the research of flood tolerance of rice.