News & Events

Hybrid-rice use in Asia expanding

C. Marquez, Jr.
Today, January 27, 2005

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 quality.

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.