IRRI likely to release flood-tolerant rice in India, Bdesh

Written by Commodities Bureau | Chennai, Nov 21 | Updated: Nov 23 2008, 04:18am hrs
Rice that can survive under floodwaters and grow well after the waters drain will be available to farmers in India, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries within two years.

Field trials of the water-proof versions of popular varieties of rice, which can withstand two weeks of complete submergence, have been completed by the scientists of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines.

According to an IRRI release, Several of these varieties are now close to official release by national and state seed certification agencies in Bangladesh and India, where farmers suffer major crop losses because of flooding of acreage of 4 million tonne of rice, enough to feed 30 million people, annually.

The flood-tolerant versions of the mega-varieties high-yielding varieties popular with both farmers and consumers that are grown over huge areas across Asia- are effectively identical to their susceptible counterparts, but recover after severe flooding to provide good yields, the release added.

A tour of research stations and farms in Bangladesh and India led by David Mackill, senior rice breeder at IRRI, marked the successful completion of a project titled From Genes to Farmers Fields: Enhancing And Stabilising Productivity Of Rice In Submergence-Prone Environments.

Collaborative researches had earlier identified a single gene that was responsible for most of the submergence tolerance in a low-yielding traditional Indian rice varieties known to withstand flooding. Subsequent researchers isolated the specific gene called Sub1A and demonstrated that it conferred tolerance to normally intolerant rice plants, the release said. Sub1 varieties are expected to be officially released within the next 2 years, the release added.

This project has been made successful by the joint efforts of several organisations, including the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Indias Central Rice Research Institute and the Narendra Dev University of Agriculture and Technology, the IRRI said.