Los Baños, Laguna – DuPont and the International
Rice Research Institute (IRRI) announced a partnership to boost
rice yields. The Scientific Know-How and Exchange Program (SKEP)
establishes a new model for public-private sector collaboration
that can benefit farmers and consumers while stimulating commercial
“This innovative and novel partnership will enable the
leading public research institution in rice breeding and genetics
to collaborate with the global leader in advanced plant genetics,
breeding and product development to increase global rice productivity,”
said William S. Niebur, vice president-DuPont Crop Genetics
Research and Development. “By partnering with IRRI to
strengthen and accelerate hybrid breeding efforts, we will enhance
commercialization of higher-yielding hybrids in Asia to help
meet global demand.”
The goal of the collaboration is to increase the rate of yield
gains and to boost the quality and diversity of hybrid rice.
Collaborating scientists will further develop the understanding
of hybrid vigor in rice and will work to develop hybrids with
better resistance to brown planthopper, a key insect pest. Aspects
of this work will be shared publicly and will contribute to
making better advanced breeding lines and hybrids available
to rice breeders and farmers in Asia. The project will complement
the IRRI-led Hybrid Rice Research and Development Consortium.
“Yield growth rates have slowed to less than 1 percent
per year since 2000. If this trend is not reversed soon, future
rice supplies will tighten and prices will rise,” said
Achim Dobermann, IRRI deputy director for research. “A
turnaround can only come through accelerated investment in rice
research, including new, innovative public-private partnerships
such as this one between IRRI and DuPont.”
The new program also establishes a scholarship program to support
continued interest in agricultural research. DuPont business
Pioneer Hi-Bred will fund a doctorate scholarship to educate
a new generation of highly qualified rice scientists for the
public and private sectors in Asia.
Both partners will benefit from SKEP through sharing facilities
and germplasm as well as through interaction among scientists.
The research collaboration builds on the strengths of both partners.
IRRI has a large and diverse germplasm pool for hybrid development.
Pioneer, on the other hand, will provide critical capabilities
for molecular analysis, expertise in developing commercial-scale
breeding strategy, and field locations for wider testing of
IRRI and Pioneer hybrids.
IRRI is the world’s leading rice research and training
center. Based in Los Baños, Laguna, it is an autonomous,
nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of
present and future generation of rice farmers and consumers,
particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural
resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers supported, in part, by
members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR) and a range of other funding agencies.
On the other hand, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the
world’s leading source of customized solutions for farmers,
livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters
in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant
genetics in nearly 70 countries.