Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments

  • About CURE

  • The CURE approach

  • Working groups


The Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) is a regional platform for partnerships among institutions led by national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) from South and Southeast Asia.

CURE focuses on rice farming systems where low and unstable yields are commonplace and where extensive poverty and food insecurity prevail. In collaboration with IRRI scientists and NARES partners, CURE activities aim to benefit the 100 million farm households in Asia that are dependent on rice. Farmers working in rice environments with problem soils that rely on unpredictable rains and that are susceptible to flooding had no recourse but to continue to grow mainly traditional varieties and use very few, if any, external inputs.

Consequently, productivity gains have been small. To improve the livelihoods in these unfavorable rice environments, innovative approaches are needed to address the challenges of achieving sustainability and raising productivity. Through improved rice productivity, households can then diversify into income-generating activities and thereby achieve a higher standard of living and a better quality of life.


The diverse nature and wide geographical spread of the rainfed environments make it essential that research is carried out in partnership with national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), drawing on local scientific expertise and farmers' indigenous knowledge.

CURE is a platform within which NARES and IRRI researchers can partner together with farmers and extension workers to tackle key problems in sites representative of the diverse ecosystems.

CURE's strategy involves on-site farmer-participatory research linking scientists from NARES, international research centers, and advanced research institutions using a multidisciplinary approach for technology generation, validation, and dissemination.

CURE also closely collaborates with local government units and nongovernment organizations to disseminate technologies over a wider area.

Membership comprises 26 institutions in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.


CURE-facilitated research is conducted within multidisciplinary working groups (WGs). These groups meet regularly to review and plan research activities, identify and test suitable technologies, prepare project proposals, monitor research activities, and report progress.

Drought in rainfed lowlands reduces crop productivity, depending on when this occurs relative to the growth stage of the rice plant. Drought also affects the availability of soil nutrients for plant uptake and can also increase weed pressure.

Plateau uplands in South Asia are subject to severe drought in the dry season, right before the monsoon rains. The monsoon's erratic and highly variable rainfall can also restrict crop potential. Weeds, poor soils, and poor seed quality also constrain rice production.

A diversified, intensified cropping system would improve farm households' food security and help to generate a surplus to enable future investment in the farm.

Countries: Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Myanmar, and India.

Additional references:

Submergence-tolerant rice contains the submergence 1 (SUB1) gene that allows it to survive 10–14 days of complete submergence and to renew growth when the water subsides.

SUB1, or more specifically the Sub 1A gene, is an ethylene-response-factor-like gene that confers submergence tolerance on rice. It acts mainly by decreasing rice sensitivity to ethylene, a plant hormone that promotes processes causing plants to elongate, lose their stored energy, and degrade their chlorophyll.

However, the duration of survival is also influenced by environmental factors such as water turbidity, temperature, and light, and other factors such as seedling age. Plants become more tolerant as they get older.

Countries: India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, and Vietnam


Salt stress affects rice lands in coastal areas because of the intrusion of seawater, inland areas where the underlying rock is rich in harmful salts, or where excessive irrigation is used without proper drainage. Rice in salt-affected areas can also suffer from other stresses such as nutritional imbalances, while drought and submergence can compound problems in other areas.

Countries: India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar.


The mountains of continental Southeast Asia and the Himalayan foothills are home to economically and marginalized ethnic groups who depend on upland rice for subsistence.Population pressures and land shortages have reduced the fallow periods for soil recovery in upland fields. Although remote, these communities are gradually being integrated into markets due to road development. Food security, cash income, and environmental quality are key issues for farm households.

Commercially oriented permanent cultivation systems prevail in upland areas of Southeast Asia, which are characterized by favorable climate and integration into the market economy. Increasing the efficiency of agricultural inputs and reducing negative environmental effects are important. Seed health, disease resistance, improved weed management, and access to good-quality seeds are major issues.

Countries: Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Lao PDR, and Vietnam.