Climate change-ready rice.
IRRI is developing rice varieties that can withstand conditions forecast to become more frequent and intense with climate change including drought, flood, heat, cold, and soil problems like high salt and iron toxicity.
Environmental stresses constrain rice production, affecting about 30% of the 700 million poor in Asia alone, who live in rainfed rice-growing areas. These stresses can be caused by extreme climatic changes like drought, flooding, or rising sea levels, while some can be inherent like high iron toxicity in the soil. Our breeding programs aim to develop rice types that can survive in these harsh environments.
IRRI breeders use a breeding method known as marker-assisted breeding. It helps breeders incorporate specific desirable traits into new varieties with more accuracy and speed.
In recent years, IRRI has developed rice with better tolerance to drought, submergence, cold, salinity, and sodicity. Our national research and agricultural extension partners test these breeding lines in different locations and countries, including evaluating their performance on farmers’ fields. The selected lines which survive under stress and retain desirable grain qualities are either released directly or bred into widely grown and popular local varieties.
Along with improved crop management, proper use of technology through extension work, and the support of national institutions, these improved varieties or “climate change-ready rice” are showing substantial, positive impacts in the lives of poor farmers.