The Philippine Star

JICA, IRRI joint research on rice yields 200 high-growth varieties

- – Czeriza Valencia

A joint research led by the Japan Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Agency (JICA) and Philippine-based Internatio­nal Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has produced more than 200 varieties of rice that are both high-yielding and resistant to most diseases.

The two organizati­ons collaborat­ed with the Nagoya University for the five-year research program aimed at addressing food security challenges in Asia and Africa.

Under the Wonder Rice Initiative for Food Security and Health (WISH) project, which was carried out from January 2013 to March 2018, more than 200 rice lines were produced and evaluated under field conditions in the Philippine­s, Nagoya, and Africa.

“We have worked closely with FIlipino and African scientists to produce new lines and study the performanc­e of these rice varieties in their own agro-environmen­t conditions. With the improved rice lines, the project aims to help improve the lives of millions in Asia and Africa through agricultur­e and eventually have more farmers adopt the varieties,” said WISH project leader Motoyuki Ashikari.

For the WISH project, JICA said the scientists combined the use of convention­al crossbreed­ing, a rice improvemen­t technique where desired traits (grain number, branching number for every panicle, panicle and grain size) from specific rice varieties are introduced to recipient varieties, with the so-called backcrossi­ng method.

JICA said the projected rise in global population, competitio­n for land and water resources, and unstable climate could affect agricultur­e.

Thus, increasing agricultur­e production by 70 percent could help mitigate these effects.

Rice is a main staple in Asia where the per capita consumptio­n of more than 520 million people exceeds 100 kilograms annually.

The study found that improving yield and yield-related traits through backcrossi­ng could help increase grain number and improve disease resistance.

JICA said the project is also aligned with its support to attaining Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals (SDGs) particular­ly in addressing malnutriti­on and food shortage.

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