LAHORE International Rice Research Institute (IRRI-Philippines) is making headways in effective use of biotechnology for developing rice varieties that are nutrient-rich, resistant to drought, salt, flood and diseases.
This was highlighted during various meetings and presentations made by the scientists as part of the ‘6th Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange Programme’, arranged by CropLife Asia and Biotech Coalition of the Philippines during the last week of March.
Objective of this annual programme, being held for the last six years, is to create awareness amongst the farmers and other stakeholders about benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops for humanity and the work being done by the IRRI.
Genetic modification was a valuable research tool for scientists that helps understand gene function and its distinct scope, said Parminder Virk, senior plant breeder at IRRI while giving presentation to participants.
IRRI was developing varieties that would help the rice farmers of the world to increase the yields. One of such variety was the Golden Rice, a new type of rice that contains beta-carotene, a source of Vitamin-A.
World needs an extra 1.5 percent rice per year to meet the growing population’s needs at an affordable price and research of the IRRI in this regard poised to benefit rice consumers and farmers worldwide, particularly those in Asia, where 90 per cent of rice is produced and consumed, he observed.
Speaking at the seminar, Dr. Parminder Virk, Ms. Bita Avendano, Ms. Cornita Guerta shared IRRI’s research and development activities in length.
The world needs varieties that can be sown in adverse climatic conditions. IRRI has already released a rice variety tolerant to submergence in India and Philippines and will be releasing the same in Nepal soon, the scientists said.
The participants also visited two BT cornfields being supported by two different companies dealing in GM crops to witness the benefits of this corn crop. They were informed that GM corn is also known as ‘vaccinated corn’ in the Philippines because it offers resistance to various insect pests besides having other qualities.