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by Jennifer Ng (Reporter)
22-February-2008 BusinessMirror

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing to propagate a flood-tolerant rice variety developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as part of efforts to prepare the country for the ill effects of climate change.

Dr. Frisco Malabanan, director of the Ginintuang Masagang Ani Rice program of the DA, said the DA, together with , has started technology demonstrations of the submergence- tolerant rice variety dubbed as IR64 Sub1.

“We’re looking to promote this technology in flood-prone areas such as Davao del Norte and Pangasinan,” said Malabanan in an interview, for its part, said on-farm testing of IR64 Sub1 will be conducted until 2009. The attached agency of the DA is leading the on-farm testing.

Dr. Nenita Desamero of the Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division will serve as team leader, while senior research fellow Dr. Norvie Manigbas as lead scientist.

Malabanan said the DA will be willing to entertain the requests of local governments to set up techno demo farms in their respective locales.

The submergence-tolerance (Sub1) gene was discovered in an Indian variety FR13A by researchers from the International Rice Research Institute and the University of California-Davis. The gene was then introduced to IR64, considered the most popular rice variety in the Philippines.

noted that IR64 Sub1 is a non-genetically engineered rice plant that can survive, grow and develop even after 10 days of complete submergence to murky and cloudy water.

The flood-tolerant rice line is not totally different from the original IR64 variety in terms of morphological characteristics as plant height, tillering and yield performance.

In July last year pilot-testing of the rice line in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, failed because the crop was not submerged during the evaluation period.

In the middle of last year, a prolonged dry spell hit the country, causing water resources to dry up and farmers to incur losses.

Traditionally, the Philippines is visited by 20 typhoons a year, but in 2007, the country experienced only 13 typhoons.

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