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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Rice-breeder joins world leaders
Monty Jones
Nerica is helping to boost Africa's rice harvests
A Sierra Leone scientist has been voted among the world's most influential people by the US Time magazine.

Monty Jones helped develop a new form of rice, known as Nerica - short for New Rice for Africa - which increases yields by up to 50%.

Nerica is seen as one reason why Africa's harvest of rice - a staple food in much of the continent - has been rising in recent years.

Mr Jones is one of just five Africans on this year's list of 100 names.

The others are Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, South African politician turned businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola and Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour.

Bush dropped

Nerica combines the hardiness of traditional African strains with the productivity of Asian varieties.

Rice is the staple food across much of West Africa but much of it is imported.

On Thursday, it was announced that African rice production had grown for the sixth year running.

Africa Rice Center director Papa Abdoulaye Seck says Nerica is a major reason.

Some of the biggest increases in rice production were in Mali and Burkina Faso - among the first countries to introduce Nerica, he says.

Others on the Time list include world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and UK Queen Elizabeth II, but not US President George W Bush for the first time since the list began four years ago.

Osama Bin Laden, Pope Benedict XVI and Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of the Borat film character, chat-show host Oprah Winfrey, tennis champion Roger Federer and footballer Thierry Henry are also named.


SEE ALSO
High-yield rice for West Africa
28 Mar 02 |  Africa
India 'should tackle rice patent'
21 Nov 00 |  South Asia
Stunted GM crop may 'help feed world'
20 Jul 99 |  Science/Nature
Rice genome falls to science
26 Jan 01 |  Science/Nature

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