use in Asia expanding
More countries in Asia are shifting to hybrid-rice
cultivation as scientists continue to introduce new varieties to meet the
growing demand for food security parallel to the even-increasing population in
the region, a report showed.
China is still the region’s top hybrid-rice producer.
The technology was introduced in that country by the acknowledged
“father of hybrid rice” Yuan Long.
From the first recorded planting harvest area in the most
populous country in the world of 143,000 hectares in 1976, China’s hybrid-rice
plantation expanded to some 20.750 million hectares until 2001, data from the
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said.
The Los Baños, Laguna-based IRRI coordinated the recent
progress evaluation of hybrid-rice technology in the region, initiated by the
Asian Development Bank. The review
workshop dubbed as “Sustaining Food Security in Asia through the Development
and Use of Hybrid-Rice Technology,” which was held in Manila, was participated
by hybrid-rice leaders of India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh,
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Korea and Thailand.
They agreed upon, among others, a “no-cost” extension of
the project until May 2005.
The other matters discussed were the sensitization of
policymakers, socioeconomic impact assessment, research and development,
promotion of public-private-nongovernment organization partnerships, and
training, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) reported.
Representatives from the China National Hybrid Rice Research
and Development Center, the Asia-Pacific Seed Association, Food and Agriculture
Organization, seed companies, the ADB and IRRI presented the progress in the
development and use of hybrid-rice technology in their respective countries.
IRRI principal scientist Sant S. Virmani said hybrid-rice
production currently covers an area of 1.46 million hectares outside China, with
27 hybrid-rice varieties released in India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and
Bangladesh using IRRI germplasm.
Virmani noted that farmers in Bangladesh, Vietnam, India and
the Philippines have produced more “yield-superior” commercial hybrid rice
than certified in-bred seeds ranging from 1.02 metric ton (MT) to 1.65 MT per
hectare. They shared with the other
participants new parental lines with improved outcrossing ability and grain
There are now about 58 seed companies involved in hybrid-rice
breeding and seed production with increased seed-production yields in many
countries, “with various opportunities for the use of hybrid-rice technology
under aerobic and fragile ecosystems,” Virmani said.
He added that the development of simplified breeding and
seed-production procedures, grain quality matching with popular inbred
varieties, economically viable seed production systems and economically viable
agronomic management systems must be taken seriously in hybrid-rice production.