Better rice seen to solve food crisis in Disasters
A group of scientists are currently at work to create 200 new rice varieties by next year. Their goal: to make disease-resistant, high-yielding rice varieties that can help bridge a food crisis in times of disasters brought by climate change.
In the Philippines, rice production can be disrupted by intense heat or dry summer spells and flooding of rice paddies like what happened to the areas hit by typhoon Yolanda last year. Food crisis can arise in provinces in cases like these, and nationwide supplies can grow thin just so extra needs are covered.
However, disease-resistant and high-yielding rice varieties can boost the supply of rice around the country, preventing shortage and the need to spend money on rice imports.
The current project by scientists from the Nagoya University, Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) aims to help Philippine rice farmers grow better rice varieties. In the long run, the research is seen as a way to help bridge the food crisis in Africa and other parts of the world.
The scientists are using a cross-breeding technique where donor rice varieties with targetted traits (like disease resistance and high yield) are crossed with a recipient rice variety favoured by farmers because of their adaptive traits to the local environment.
NagoyaUniversity rice expert Dr Motoyuki Ashikari said that the technique can recover 93.75% of the traits of the recipient rice variety while successfully collecting the targetted traits from the donor rice variety.
Ashikari added that ‘By 2015, the new rice variety under WISH will be propagated and distributed to other parts of the world including Africa where rice shortage looms.’
The project, called Wonder Rice Initiative for Food Security and Heath (WISH), is spearheaded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which chose the Philippines as partner researcher because of its climate, history, facilities, scientists, language and time similarity to Japan.
Maybe the next time we go and buy rice from our favorite Filipino or foreign shop abroad we will be buying rice from the Philippines already and not from other countries that actually came to the Philippines to learn how to make good variety of rice from the Filipinos.