Rice breeding creates billion-dollar impact

  • The need

  • What IRRI has done

  • The impact

  • How you can help

  • Resources

IR8 variety

Improved rice from IRRI’s breeding work has given farmers in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia an additional US$1.46 billion worth of rice every year from 1985-2009, an independent study by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) finds.

In the years that followed the release of IR8 , or “miracle rice”, improving rice is not just about getting more rice out of a hectare anymore. IRRI’s breeding work has taken on the different "stresses" to the rice plant - pests, diseases, floods, heat, drought, salinity, and cold (referred to mostly as biotic and abiotic).

Major rice-producing areas in Asia find themselves in deltas that provide rich soils but also, are prone to flooding and saline-intrusion, and also in areas that frequently experience drought, heat, or cold. Understanding grain quality, creating healthier rice, and charting out pathways to revolutionary rice types are also in IRRI’s breeding agenda as it prepares the rice-producing world to a future of lesser resources and more mouths to feed.

rice planting

IRRI and its partners track down genes linked to important traits – like high-yielding, resistance to flood, cold, drought, heat, saline, pests and diseases – and infuse these genes into popular rice varieties grown in different rice-eating and growing countries. IRRI makes use of different breeding techniques to improve rice, and over the decades, these techniques have evolved into more sophisticated tools that can cut down the time needed to create a new and improved rice type.

IRRI then works very closely with different country governments to deliver these improved rice types to farmers. So far, IRRI has released about 900 different improved rice types to 78 countries in five continents.

US$1.46 billion a year - that's how much more worth of rice farmers are harvesting in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia at the least, thanks to IRRI's improved rice varieties.

IRRI bred Ciherang varietyUS$1.46 billion a year - that's how much more worth of rice farmers are harvesting in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia at the least, thanks to IRRI's improved rice varieties.

An independent study conducted by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) found a 13% average boost in rice yields across the three countries in an assessment of the impact of IRRI's breeding work between 1985 to 2009.

Mr. Rasja Priatna, a 45-year-old rice farmer from West Java, Indonesia, said he has been growing Ciherang - an IRRI bred variety popular in Indonesia - for ten years because it outyields the rice variety his parents grew before him. Ciherang was first released in 2000, and, by 2009, and it occupies nearly 50% of the rice-growing areas in the country.

Dr. Jean Du, of the Philippine’s Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center described the adoption of PSB Rc18-sub1,a flood tolerant rice developed at IRRI, as "fast" after observing farmers evaluating and testing the variety in Southern Philippines. In Vietnam, IRRI-bred OM89 is now planted to 4.5 million hectares, as it not only gives higher yield but is also resistant to pests.

rice planting

Despite the successes that IRRI had achieved and continue to achieve, there’s still a lot of work that needs to get done and the Institute can’t do it alone. Funding plays a very important role on whether or not we could do more. This is where you come in.

Help us continue this project by donating to IRRI. The donation you give will enable us to continue our important research and, ultimately, help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

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