Drought-tolerant, flood-resistant rice varieties continue to be developed at IRRI

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2023 08:42 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2023 09:57 PM

International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna. Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News
International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna. Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna continues to develop drought-tolerant and flood-resistant varieties of rice, which will help Filipino farmers especially in this changing climate.

They have "submergent plots" where they submerge rice plants in water to test which varieties can withstand flooding.

IRRI scientists are also trying to recreate typhoon conditions to study how certain varieties respond to disasters.

"Nilulubog yung halaman for 21 days, to see kung magsusurvive sya sa ganong kondisyon. Yung nabuhay na lines, isu-subject sa susunod na experiment to see kung see kung kada babaha o lulubog kaya magsurvive," said Ben Solomon Organo, Associate Manager, of IRRI's Experiment Station Operations.

They are also studying rice varieties that can grow even without much water.

"Dito sa IRRI, maraming experiment na ginagawa, sa areang ito, ginagawa ang drought experiment, pagka panahon ng tag-init, kulang ang tubig, tinitingnan kung yung halaman ay magsusurvive, sa experiment na to, tinitingnan kung tinanim ngayon, mahaharvest ba sya pag tagtuyot yung magtatanim hindi malulugi kasi pagdating ng tagtuyot may maani pa," Organo added.

Dr. Parthiban Prakash, scientist of IRRI's Breeding Optimization, said there are 30 drought-tolerant varieties will be helpful to farmers especially during El Niño.

"It is very important now in the Philippines, there are more dry spells, and more drough incidences. We need to identify varieties that are high yielding under dry spells and also high yielding under normal conditions," Prakash said.

"We are now testing the lines in the regions than just on the station. We are doing this on rainfed affected areas in multiple geographies," he added.

Such innovation on rice production, scientists say, are helpful in bringing down the costs of agricultural inputs for farmers.

"Kung yung variety is adaptable na, pwede mong ilimit yung mga practice, yung abono na ilalagay mo, pesticide na ilalagay mo, pwedeng mabawasan kasi adaptable na sa area," Organo said.

"Kahit magka-diperensya sa panahon, alam mong makakasurvive yung halaman, kahit di ka masyadong gumastos, may mahaharvest yung farmers," he added.

IRRI is also continuously developing new breeding lines of rice through hybridization.

It is also home to the International Rice Genebank, which has the world's largest collection of rice samples.

The genebank currently has more than 132,000 accessions or rice samples stored in freezing temperatures.

An independent, non-profit, research and educational institute, IRRI has been conducting studies on rice since 1960.


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