Accelerating Hybrid Rice Development
Hybrid rice is a proven and successful technology for rice production, having contributed significantly toward improving food security, raising rice productivity and farmers’ income, and providing more employment opportunities over the past three decades. Remarkable progress continues as hybrid rice technology makes its way across Asia and to other countries. Since the 4th International Hybrid Rice Symposium held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2002, the area grown to hybrid rice worldwide increased to an estimated 19.8 million hectares in 2007, including about 2.8 million hectares outside China. All major rice-producing countries in the world have been investing in applying hybrid rice technology, and, in recent years, the seed industry has also been involved in hybrid rice research and development. The advance of new technologies, such as marker-assisted selection, has provided new approaches to enable scientists to develop hybrid rice varieties with increased yield potential, improved grain quality, and multiple resistance to or tolerance of various biological and environmental stresses. However, with the remaining challenge of increasing food demand with fewer resources, and new challenges from climate change, it is even more important for hybrid rice to receive high priority for increasing rice productivity. Many problems constrain the further development of hybrid rice in the areas of higher yield heterosis, seed production, grain quality, seed cost, field management, and public-private partnership.
The 5th International Symposium on Hybrid Rice was held at Changsha, Hunan, China, on 11-15 September 2008. It brought together leading researchers and industry experts to review and discuss current knowledge and progress on hybrid rice development, seed production, molecular applications, crop and resource management, and economics, as well as to discuss future research strategies to enhance and sustain hybrid rice technology. The first International Hybrid Rice Symposium was held in the same city in 1986, when only 8.5 million hectares of hybrid rice were growing and only in China. A total of 430 hybrid rice scientists from 21 countries and two international organizations (IRRI and FAO) participated in the 2008 symposium.