PHILRICE RESEARCH SHOWS COST-EFFECTIVE WAY OF BOOSTING YIELD

El Niño-resilient rice varieties identified

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Amid the threat of a prolonged drought due to the El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has identified two climate change-resilient rice varieties suitable for irrigated lowlands in the Visayas and Mindanao.

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Researchers said the development of location-specific, high-yielding and climate change-resilient varieties are among the cost-effective strategies to increase rice yields.

A PhilRice study identified NSIC Rc308 (Tubigan 26) and NSIC Rc358 (Tubigan 30) as climate change-resilient varieties with superior performance in irrigated lowland ecosystems.

Thelma Padolina, lead researcher, said that varieties with superior performance in specific locations and improved resistance to lodging and biotic stresses must be bred and recommended to help the farmers adapt to climate change.

“The two recommended varieties have relatively high yield advantage over their check varieties. The NSIC Rc308 has a yield advantage of 5.5 percent in the Visayas and 4 percent in Mindanao in contrast with PSB Rc82. NSIC Rc358 outyielded PSB Rc18 by 12 percent,” Padolina said.

NSIC Rc308 and the NSIC Rc358 are 2013 PhilRice-bred varieties.

Under favorable irrigated lowland ecosystems, NSIC Rc308 has a maximum average yield of 10.9 tons per hectare (t/ha) and matures in 11 days if transplanted. When direct-seeded, it matures in 105 days and has a maximum yield of 8.0 t/ha.

Under the same farming condition, NSIC Rc358 can also attain a maximum average yield of 5.4 t/ha to 9.1 t/ha if transplanted.

Both varieties are early maturing so they may escape stress conditions. NSIC Rc308 showed superior performance in Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Eastern Samar, and Aklan.

According to Padolina, the variety has intermediate reaction to pests such as stem borer, brown planthopper, and bacterial leaf blight.

NSIC Rc358 is considered as an all-season variety for Visayas. Padolina said that it is suitable for the transplanting culture in the provinces of Samar, Aklan, and Bohol.

Rice scientists and experts encouraged R&D institutions to foster stronger partnerships as the country prepares to address the effects of trade liberalization and climate change.

Govt should invest more in R&D
During the 28th National Rice R&D Conference at PhilRice, experts discussed industry trends to address current issues and emerging problems besetting rice R&D.

Dr. Madonna Casimero of IRRI stressed that there is a need to rethink and step up R&D strategies in order to help the national government craft policies and develop the right technologies for the farmers.

Casimero also highlighted the message of IRRI’s deputy director general for research Dr. Matthew Morell that “not one institution can provide the solutions to all the issues confronting agriculture.” Hence, cooperation among R&D institutions is needed, she said.
“We need to strengthen ourselves and harness the skills of our partners,” she said.

Economics professor Dr. Cesar Quicoy of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) emphasized that the national government must invest more in R&D as it plays a major role in making farmers competitive.

“Literature will always point out that the reason why we’re always behind in agriculture is because our R&D is very minimal in terms of our GDP,” he said.

Studies have shown that R&D contributes about 25 percent yield growth in rice.

During the conference, experts also urged PhilRice, as the country’s lead institute in rice R&D, to look at the issues in agriculture as an opportunity to prove the relevance of the institute.

The National Rice Research and Development Conference is annually hosted by PhilRice and gathers around 500 researchers, academicians, students, farmers, and extension workers from all over the country.

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