Sunday, January 12, 2014

Green Super Rice shows high productivity in Bicol field trials--DA

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PILI, CSUR--Adaptability trials in Bicol farms of Green Super Rice (GSR) have been showing high productivity potential similar to the strains that boosted grain yields across the country in the Green Revolution of the 1960s, according to the Regional Field Unit (RFU) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here.

Developed and introduced by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) through funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), GSR is actually a mix of more than 250 different potential rice varieties and hybrids variously adapted to difficult growing conditions.

BMGF is a global charity foundation dedicated to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.

Launched in December 2008, the GSR project is aimed at developing, testing and demonstrating at least 15 new rice varieties for farmers in the irrigated and rain-fed areas of the target countries, including the Philippines.

Its long-term goal is to benefit at least 20 million resources-poor rice farmers and to boost rice productivity by 20 percent in participating countries.

The project came amid fears of food shortages following the rice crisis in 2007 and 2008 which prompted a dramatic shift in global trade and in economic and food security policies.

Nations now have put more focus on agriculture—a situation somewhat reminiscent of the events that led to the Green Revolution.

Adaptability trials in Bicol began during the wet season in the middle period of 2012 and GSR, Abelardo Bragas, DA Bicol regional executive director, is taking more recent climate-related stresses into account compared with regular varieties that have low resistance and high input requirements.

He cited the case of farmer Edgar Serrano, a trial participant in Barangay Igbac, Buhi, Camarines Sur, who, by using GSR 5A seeds, recorded a yield of over 6.8 metric tons per hectare despite the upland condition of his farm.

In Serrano’s farm, GSR proves to be drought-resistant and requires low input of fertilizer, zero pesticide and with rapid establishment rates to outgrow weeds, thus reducing the need for herbicides, Bragas said.

Serrano now sells his palay as seeds to other farmers, particularly of upland or rainfed farms, who have decided to shift to GSR after undergoing training in the DA’s Climate Farmer Field School (CFFS), the DA regional chief said.

The initial GSR seeds in Bicol were made available through a partnership among DA- RFU, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry of Japan (MAFF) under the project entitled “Analysis and Mapping of Impacts under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security.”

Field trials of the GSR lines in Bicol were incorporated in the CFFS approach while a flip-chart, which focuses on disaster risk reduction-climate change adaptation, was also developed and pilot-tested in Buhi and two other municipalities of Camarines Sur.

Today, GSR lines are being reproduced at the Bicol Experiment Station (BES) here while further testing is being done in the six provinces of the region.

“At BES, we were already able to produce various types of GSR that combine many interesting traits out of the mother seed provided to us nearly two years ago by our international partners,” Bragas said.

Sites selected for the trials are municipalities with rice areas frequently affected the three adverse agro-ecosystem conditions--flooding, drought and saline intrusion.

Bragas said that in rainfed lowland and upland ecosystems, GSR 2 was found to be the most adaptable line while in saline and submerged areas GSR11 and GSR5A are showing “very high adaptability characteristics.”

The “multi-trait” GSR 5A line is also recommended for its high yield potential under these three types of vulnerable environments.

“We even have provided a total of 568 kilograms of different GSR lines produced locally in the BES and on-field trials to typhoon 'Yolanda'-affected regions in the Visayas so that farmers in those areas are given an input to start with their rice production recovery goal,” Bragas said.

Seeds were also allocated to local government units and non-government organizations in Bicol, including other foreign-funded projects that are also focused on DRR/CCA in agriculture like those of the United States Assistance for International Development and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid’s Disaster Preparedness program, he said.

Bragas said the GSR project was introduced in Bicol in 2012 to develop, within the next three years, at least 15 new rice varieties and deliver them to small-hold farmers in the region.

Globally, the project targets several countries to an accumulation of 11 million hectares of farm lands and increase an annual rice productivity by 13 million tons.

Additionally, the project includes building a highly efficient genotyping platform for the large-scale molecular breeding activities in the target countries and for the international rice research community.

“We are accelerating the adaptation trials of this new variety in preparation for commercial production after proving that it withstands drought, flooding and toxic minerals such as salt and high iron,” Bragas added.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

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