The Philippine Star
JICA, IRRI joint research on rice yields 200 high-growth varieties
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.