NUCLEAR IMPROVES RICE QUALITY IN ZANZIBAR

Although economic development in Zanzibar is often associated with tourism, agriculture contributes greatly to the Islands' economy and food security. In fact agriculture is the primary sources of income for roughly 70 percent of the islands’ population.
According to KhatibJumaKhatib, the Rice Research Programme Coordinator at Zanzibar's Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), rice is the preferred crop in Zanzibar.He also confirmed that the demand is there and that the region has the potential to grow more.
In recent years the demand for the grain was so high that Zanzibar started to import nearly 80% of the rice it needed. Yet the farmers in the region exclaimed that they could close that gap if they had adequate agricultural extension services to guide them on the use of fertilizers and other modern technology.
Zanzibar's Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources implemented aspecial strategy with a view of increasing rice production by developing irrigation systems, training farmers and introducing improved varieties of rice.
By employing a mutation induction process, scientists are able to create a new variety of rice which is more resistant to diseases, water shortages or high level of salinity in the soil.
Mutation is a natural process, but if left up to nature can take millions of years to occur. With the use of specialized equipment which emits a safe level of irradiation the process is sped up considerably.   
With the support of the IAEA and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Zanzibar has put this technique to good use and a new variety of rice known as "SUPA BC" has been introduced to the region. According to KhatibJuma, the new variety of rice is very popular because it has several advantages over other rice varieties and brings higher yields.
In order to cultivate more and stronger varieties of rice, a special biotechnology laboratory has been set upin Zanzibar. The nuclear technology application is assisting local farmers to create modified seeds which are even moreresilient to diseases.
By increasing the local production of rice through the introduction of improved and new varieties, Zanzibar can reduce its dependence on imports, save money and create more jobs.
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