Los Baños, Philippines – Three new rice varieties
designed to help Filipino farmers grow more rice in difficult
conditions have been officially recommended for approval for
commercial cultivation in the Philippines and are expected to
help the Philippines become less dependent on rice imports.
Bred by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), one
variety is flood-tolerant, one is drought-tolerant, and one
“In the Philippines about 400,000 hectares of rice-growing
land is affected by salinity, and in any year up to 370,000
hectares can be flood-affected,” said Dr. David Mackill,
program leader and plant breeder at IRRI. “Both these
conditions can completely destroy a rice crop or decrease yield.
“Yield is also reduced by drought that occurs in upland
and rain-fed areas where rice is not irrigated. Having rice
varieties that can cope with difficult growing conditions such
as flood, drought, and salinity will be particularly helpful
for poor farmers who rely on marginal land to grow their rice.
“Rice-growing land that has limited productivity will
become more productive when these new rice varieties are used
– this will help Filipino farmers produce more rice,”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, every year Filipinos eat an average of more than 100
kilograms of rice per person. With population increasing, demand
for rice continues to grow in the Philippines, which is already
the world’s biggest rice importer.
“The development of these rice varieties demonstrates
how IRRI and its partners can increase the yield of rice through
research,” said Dr. Mackill.
“Ongoing investment in rice research, breeding, and extension
will help to increase rice yields and improve the sustainability
of rice production to help avoid future rice price increases.”
The new rice varieties have been tested in field conditions
and evaluated by the Rice Varietal Improvement Group through
the National Cooperative Testing program of the Philippine Rice
Research Institute (PhilRice).
“The Rice Technical Working Group of the National Seed
Industry Council will now recommend the varieties for official
approval, which is expected to occur sometime in late 2009,”
said Ms. Thelma Padolina, NCT national coordinator at PhilRice.
As a nonprofit organization, IRRI provides the seed for these
new varieties at no cost to PhilRice.
PhilRice has already started distributing small amounts of
seed to farmers for further adaptation tests. Seed increase
of breeder and foundation seeds is now being done by IRRI and
PhilRice. When officially approved, basic seed will be available
to seed growers and selected farmers that can cater to other
farmers. It is also expected that seed exchange among farmers
in the target areas will be active with the new technologies.
IRRI and PhilRice continue to work together and more new rice
varieties especially designed for the Philippines are expected
to be released soon.
This research is financially supported by the Federal Government
of Germany, the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme, Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Sophie Clayton: Tel. +63 2 580 5600 (ext. 2204), Mob. +63 917
552 6082, firstname.lastname@example.org