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"Miracle" of Rice Science Turns Gold

19:00 EST 30 Nov 2016 | Meridian Institute

This year marks 50 since the release of the first high-yielding rice variety, IR8, which eventually sparked the Green Revolution in Asia, saving the region from famine the following decade. Before IR8, the average yield in the Philippines was about one ton per hectare; IR8 saw that number rise to close to 10 tons. The developer of IR8, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) wants to build on those gains with climate-smart varieties and other new rice technologies that could help during future threats of shortages. “As much as the journey for IR8 was a one-of-a-kind technology, the future growth of the global rice sector will not just be a journey of technology, but also a journey of humanity and of critical partnerships,” IRRI director general Matthew Morell said. “Our partnerships must bring rice-growing countries, as well as different sectors of the rice value chain, together in order to advance rice research and effect progressive policy change. This is the only means by which we will leverage science for maximum benefit of those we serve.” IRRI is working to create a regional environment that encourages scientific and innovation exchanges, technology sharing and investments in the rice sector through its Rice Action Agenda for Asean+3, which includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam—and their three closest dialogue partners, China, Japan and South Korea. “Through partnerships such as this, we ensure that our research agenda is aligned with those concerns and addresses the greatest needs,” said Morell.

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