Climate Change and the Unsettling Future of Rice Production in Pakistan

  • Rice is Pakistan’s second-biggest crop after Wheat in terms of cultivated area. Besides being the second staple crop and contributing 2 million tons to our food requirement, it also acts as a cash crop.

    In FY 2022, Pakistan exported $2.5 billion worth of rice, making it the 4th largest exporter. It’s also a major contributor to employment and income for rural households, but at what cost?

    Rice is the water-thirstiest crop in the world, as it’s grown in standing water to control weeds. According to studies, it takes 3000–5000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of Rice in Pakistan. Climate Change is hitting the South Asian Country in the worst ways possible with floods in monsoons and droughts at the start of the Kharif Season.

    Water Shortage and Challenges So Far

    Irrigation water availability has been increasingly declining for the past few years, especially during the Kharif season. Indus River System Authority (IRSA) estimated a 19 percent shortage for 2021 and 27 percent for the last year while its meeting convened last week forecasted a 37 percent water scarcity for the upcoming Kharif season. Our per capita water availability has plummeted from 5,650 cubic meters in 1951 to 908 cubic meters in 2022. Even if the Government magically reaches a consensus and builds new dams before the situation worsens, we might still be unable to afford such extravagant use in agriculture with increased demand in urban population centers.

    It’s critical to seek and disseminate effective conservation practices so we can ensure rice productivity and food security. The traditional transplanting and continuously flooded system is a significant contributor to overall rice production and is highly effective in controlling weeds, ensuring optimum plant stand, and achieving higher yields.

    But it’s enormously inefficient in terms of irrigation and requires a large amount of water to keep the field flooded. Scientists are working on tons of water-conserving alternatives but few of these technologies have been found uniquely successful and have been largely adopted. Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) and Alternate Wetting and Drying are two.

    Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) was developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the 1970s. It involved alternate flooding and drying throughout the cropping season depending on the soil water threshold level, the physical appearance of the soil, or after fixed non-flooded days. It can essentially reduce the water inputs from 25 percent to 70 percent given the soil type and climatic conditions.

    “AWD is the only plausible sustainable and eco-friendly rice cultivation method,” stated Basit Mustafa, Agronomist at Ricult which is a US-based Agritech solution provider operating in Pakistan and Thailand. Ricult utilizes AI & Data to provide insights along with affordable credit and other fintech solutions.

    “We have achieved up to 30 percent more water savings in Pakistan with AWD and there is also room for improvement depending on soil & climate,”  added Basit.

    The technique is under large-scale dissemination and adoption in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, China, Thailand, USA, Vietnam, and Brazil. In field studies, AWD has been found to increase the profits by 38-42 percent in tube well irrigation with yield increase.

    Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) technology entails sowing rice in either moist or dry soil (immediately irrigated). Since no transplanting is needed in this practice, it results in up to 75 percent labor savings. Mechanization of Rice is still in the early stages and labor has been hard to arrange in rural areas in recent years due to the youth moving to cities. Irrigation and herbicides are carefully managed in this method to ensure that the crop does not suffer from either the weed or the moisture stress. It can also result in up to 30 percent water savings.

    The major challenge of cultivating rice without flooded conditions is controlling weeds. Some new weeds like Red Rice have also emerged in the fields which are strongly resistant to conventional herbicides and are hard to manage without flooding.

    “DSR can be widely adopted in arid regions if we can come up with ways to control weeds without flooding the fields. There are herbicides available internationally for Red Rice by the MNCs but they have deliberately avoided introducing them in the Pakistani market,” added Basit.

    Way Forward

    There is the need to train farmers on modern lines to conserve water and the government’s continuous incompetence in doing so. It’s one thing when we lack solutions and need capital and time to put in R&D to come up with them, but we already have solutions.

    Our universities and research institutes give a lot of effort into dozens of studies to establish the efficacy of these techniques in our local soil and climate but in the end, we either fail to ensure the widespread adoption or the concerned department never put their total weight behind it in the first place. You go into the field, meet farmers, and realize that for whatever reason, even the most basic practices introduced by the agriculture department decades ago haven’t made their way into their field.

    There is a need be a consensus between research institutes and agricultural departments and the farm advisory services need to be overhauled to ensure that the farming community gets the motivation or incentive to follow the best practices available out there.

  • Climate change to reduce wheat and rice yield by 20% in 2050

  • This is according to a study by the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture

    Karam Prakash

    New Delhi, March 21

    Climate change—in the coming years—is going to make a huge impact on one of the important sectors of Indian economy, agriculture. According to the study by the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), agri produce, in the absence of the adaptation measures, would plummet a great deal.

    This was revealed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the Lok Sabha on Monday. 

    Rain-fed rice yield in the country is projected to reduce by 20 per cent by 2050 and by 47 per cent by 2080, while wheat yield by 19.3 per cent by 2050, and by 40 per cent by 2080 with significant spatial and temporal variations. Climate change is projected to reduce the kharif maize yield by 18-23 per cent by 2050.

    “The Centre, through its various ministries and departments, continues to assess the impacts of climate change: taking into account new data and increased scientific knowledge on the subject,” said the Environment Ministry in Lok Sabha, in a reply to a question on the steps taken by the Centre to study the impact of climate change.  

    However, the Agriculture Ministry in another reply said the ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Karnal, and All India Coordinating Research Project on Wheat and Barley, were working on developing climate-resilient varieties. They were also keeping a strict vigil on disease situation in the country, said the ministry.

    Listing out the new varieties, the agriculture ministry in the Rajya Sabha said: “From 2014 to 2023, a total of 156 wheat varieties have been released. The wheat varieties such as DBW303 and DBW187 have an average yield of eight tonnes per hectare. Further, 28 bio-fortified varieties of wheat have been developed by ICAR which are rich in multi-nutrients. These are DBW327, DBW332 and DDW47, etc.”

  • Global food supply faces turmoil with rice set to climb: Reports

  • The restrictions are threatening to ignite inflation for yet another key commodity, and may deprive some of the globe's poorest nations of a crucial element of their diet.

    Food supply, already squeezed by shortages in wheat, corn and cooking oils, is at risk of even more disruption, this time from the rice market.

    India is clamping down on exports of the staple for half the world’s population, with the market’s focus now turning to the capacity of other major producers including Thailand and Vietnam to fill the gap. The restrictions are threatening to ignite inflation for yet another key commodity, and may deprive some of the globe’s poorest nations of a crucial element of their diet.

    India is the single largest exporter with a 40 per cent share of global rice trade. The government has imposed a 20 per cent duty on shipments of white and brown rice, and banned broken rice sales abroad. Those varieties mainly go toward feeding Asia and Africa and affect roughly 60 per cent of India’s overall rice exports.

    “Such severe disruptions in global supplies, combined with a record level of consumption worldwide, should supercharge” prices and further fuel food inflation, said Sabrin Chowdhury, head of commodities at Fitch Solutions. When the war in Ukraine sent agricultural prices skyrocketing earlier this year, rice escaped the frenzy, keeping Asia and some Middle Eastern and African nations insulated from a bigger food crisis. The surge in corn and wheat encouraged some substitution away from these more expensive grains toward cheaper alternatives like rice. That may be about to change.

    India’s policy will drive up its export prices to levels similar to white rice grades from rivals Thailand and Vietnam, prompting buyers to shift toward those suppliers instead, according to Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

    When that happens, it will push up Thai and Vietnamese prices as well, dealing a blow to importing nations in Asia and Africa that consume the grain as a main staple, Chookiat said. “Imposing a 20 per cent levy is a big deal,” he said. “This move will cause global rice prices to rally.”

    Thailand’s benchmark 5 per cent white rice was quoted at $431 a ton this week by the exporters association, while the same grade from Vietnam was around $393-$397 a ton. India’s prices were well below that at around $338-$342.

    While Thailand and Vietnam recently agreed to cooperate on boosting prices, without providing details, Chookiat said Thailand is unlikely to restrict exports as the country has a surplus and there are no worries about local supplies.

    Thailand usually produces about 20 million tons of milled rice a year, of which 11 million is consumed and the rest exported.

    Chookiat said it’s impractical to curb overseas sales as the surplus, if left unsold, would hurt domestic prices and burden the government with storage costs and farmer subsidies. Back in 2007-08, a global food crisis was triggered when both India and Vietnam restricted exports of rice. Prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, amid a panic over supplies.

    Nguyen Nhu Cuong, head of Vietnam’s agriculture ministry’s crop production unit, declined to comment on whether the country would curb exports, but said domestic supply and national food security must be taken into consideration when mulling such a move. Vietnam is able to ship 7 million tons of rice this year, up from an earlier forecast of about 6.7 million tons, he said.

    Globally, output in several regions has been hit by bad weather. Besides India, which saw planting drop on lack of rain, China’s harvest is at risk from heat. Europe’s output is forecast to be the lowest since 1995-96 on severe drought in Italy and Spain, while a similar trend is seen in the US, Chowdhury said.

  • The International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics

  • From the 4th to the 7th of November 2022, Phuket, Thailand will host the 19th International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics ISRFG 2022 where we will see agricultural science “Driving the Next Green Revolution”

    The annual ISRFG under the theme – “Driving the Next Green Revolution: New Frontiers in Food and Nutritional Security,” will provide relevant, up-to-date research and information about the current situation faced by rice farmers due to global warming.

    The objective of this year’s ISRFG is to bring together the rice functional genomics research community to “discuss the new frontier research to mitigate the impact of global warming on rice productivity, food and nutritional security in the near future.”

    Driving the Next Green Revolution: New Frontiers in Food and Nutritional Security

    Topics expected to be covered at the conference include a range of issues all with a continuing focus on adapting agricultural practices for the ongoing and worsening climate challenges. According to the ISRFG “new frontiers research may include but are not limited to Efficient photosynthesis, Water and nitrogen use efficiency, Heat and drought tolerance, Sea rice, Net zero carbon emission rice, High-yielding organic rice, multiple disease and insect resistance, and High nutritious rice.”

    “Comprehensive insight via functional genomics may impact more efficient precision breeding to drive the next green revolution into environmentally-friendly rice and future foods.”

    “Comprehensive insight via functional genomics may impact more efficient precision breeding to drive the next green revolution into environmentally-friendly rice and future foods.”

    Female rice farmer in thailand
    © Mcpics

    The impact of climate change on Rice production

    As of today, rice is a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people, its importance cannot be understated. As the climate is becoming increasingly fragile our planet will continue to experience weather extremes that require our agricultural sector to be prepared for.

    The ISRFG is a prime opportunity for experts to share knowledge and strategies to undertake in the following months and years in order to protect the world’s rice and food supplies.

    The ISRFG is hoping to ensure ‘adaptability under extreme climate changes and productivity of rice grown in environmentally friendly practices.

  • Rice exports at risk as climate change engulfs Pakistan

  • Climate change is rice crop nemesis, and it can have detrimental consequences on its yield and quality, as a result it will be hard for Pakistan to maintain food security with current economic situation and ongoing global supply chain crisis.

    Punjab and Sindh are main producersof rice in Pakistan,about 90pc production of Pakistan total rice comes from these two provinces. Punjab, have moderate agricultural climatic zone and with the suitable soil conditions, which is feasible for basmati rice and it produce nearly 100pc of the Basmati variety rice for the Pakistan. The increased temperatures and decreased precipitation have a less or more negative impact on rice crop yield in Sindh, where an increase of 1°C in temperature and a 10pc decrease in precipitation, can reduce rice crop yield by 7.34pc in the short run and 13.33pc in the long run. Pakistan was ranked as the 3rdmost impacted country in the world by climate-related disasters in 2011. Pakistan is regarded one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change due to its diverse population and physical makeup. Climate has a large impact on agricultural productivity. It is a critical component in crop productivity.

    It is recommended that the efficient methods for utilisation of land, water, and fertiliser should be updated through adaptation and mitigation techniques in new developing regulations.The government must play its role by monitoring climate change and paying close attention to agricultural output. Rice producers’ adaptive production techniques will be influenced by well-defined planning and prudent policies. Crop varieties with climate resilience and new hybrids should be introduced. Newly developing crops with better heat and malnourishment tolerance should be introduced to assist reduce possible difficulties. Finally, the government might coordinate irrigation with other forward-thinking programmes. Because of the region’s high temperatures and poor irrigation infrastructure, access to modern irrigation systems may likely boost agricultural production. As a result, adaptation and mitigation measures can be used to overcome the situation and meet the climate change restrictions less or more effectively.

    Pakistan mostly exports rice to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rice is the second most significant food item consumed, and it also provides 21pc of the world’s human per capita calories and 15pc of per capita protein. It meets all of our country’s food needs while also providing a source of foreign cash through trade exports. On the other hand, rice supplies value-added goods or raw materials for the manufacture of paper, mattresses, starch, and other items. Unseen future changes connected with global warming temperature, carbon dioxide, and rainfall are projected to have an impact on rice production. It is evident that climate change is causing a rise in temperature, which has a negative influence on rice crops, eventually lowering crop yield and quality. A study indicated that climate change during the 1960s has reduced rice output by 12.4pc, with the major effect coming from reduced radiation. According to Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) an auxiliary organisation of US department of agriculture Pakistan rice output is expected to reach a record 9 MMT, propelling exports to a predicted 5 MMT but this forecast can be severely handicapped if we don’t tackle our climate change problem first.

  • Lack of timely rains, fertilizer hits rice farmers in Nepal’s granary

    • The annual monsoon rains have failed to arrive in Nepal as anticipated ahead of the rice-planting season, leaving farmers facing another season of loss and the country bracing for a food shortage.
    • A senior government meteorologist says it’s still too early to link the lateness of the monsoon to climate change, but what’s certain is that climate change is already wreaking havoc with rainfall patterns in Nepal.
    • Last year, a prolonged monsoon brought unexpected flash floods that cost farmers $93 million in damages.
    • A decline in rice production this year could put Nepal’s already strained finances under even more pressure by forcing the country to import rice.

    KATHMANDU — Thousands of farmers in Nepal’s fertile southern plains, the country’s rice bowl, face a double whammy of a fertilizer shortage and inadequate monsoon rains.

    This is likely to affect production of the country’s staple grain, which also contributes around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment of at least six months for a large proportion of the population.

    “Paddy has been planted only in around 75% of the fields as of end of July,” said Suma Karki, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture. “Last year this time, the figure was around 88%.”

    The monsoon clouds, which originate in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, are obstructed by the Himalayan mountain range when they try to move north. They then form a low-pressure band, shedding their moisture in the form of rain in the foothills of the mountains as well as the Gangetic plain that runs through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The band, known as the monsoon trough, moves between the foothills of mountains in the north and the Indian plains in the south bringing rain wherever it goes.

    “This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to,” said senior government meteorologist Indira Kandel. This is why Nepal’s southern plains haven’t received adequate rains for rice farmers this year, she added.

    The monsoon rains account for 60-90% of Nepal’s total annual precipitation, and are crucial for the farmers who grow rice on around 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of land, 75% of which lie in the southern Terai plains. Most of the farmers are dependent on the rains as the irrigation system in the country can’t cater to all their needs.

    “Due to lack of adequate rain, the rice fields have developed cracks and the plants have dried up,” said Ranju Sharma, a farmer from the rural municipality of Katahari in Nepal’s Morang district, near the border with India.

    Farmers such as Sharma are already under stress as large numbers of Nepali workers seek jobs abroad in India and the Middle East. This makes it difficult to plant rice on time as the traditional cultivation practices are labor intensive. In addition, unexpected issues pop up virtually every year that forces the farmers to bear huge losses.

    This year, the farmers had anticipated that the main challenge would be a shortage of chemical fertilizers. The government, which used to supply fertilizer to farmers ahead of the monsoon season, failed to do so this year as the fertilizer couldn’t be imported in time. But the lack of rainfall has created more trouble.

    “We were already worried that the output would go down this year due to lack of fertilizer, now the rainfall problem has added to our woes,” Sharma said.

    Paddy field Nepal
    A man walks through a paddy field in Nepal’s Terai. Image by Abhaya Raj Joshi for Mongabay

    The change in rainfall patterns in Nepal’s plains come as record heat waves, attributed to climate change, recently engulfed much of the Northern Hemisphere, including India. “It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behavior of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility,” Kandel said.

    What is known is that a changing climate has changed the long-term precipitation patterns in Nepal. A report by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggests that although the volume of total rainfall hasn’t changed much, the intensity has. This means rainfall patterns have become hard to forecast, and the chances of flash floods have increased.

    Many farmers say they still remember all too well the flash floods during last year’s monsoon, just as they were preparing for what they thought would be a good harvest. The monsoon, which typically leaves Nepal in late September, stayed longer last year, bringing unexpected rains in the second week of October. According to government figures, which usually underestimate damages, farmers suffered losses amounting to 11.87 billion rupees ($93 million).

    As the monsoon trough moves north again, farmers say they hope it brings adequate rain this time before it heads back south again. “The rains should stop when they are supposed to stop,” Sharma said. “If it doesn’t, we might have to abandon rice farming altogether as we can’t take losses year after year.”

    Nepal’s import-dependent economy, which is already under huge pressure due to rising fuel prices, could take another hit if rice production takes yet another major hit this year. The country, which only has sufficient foreign currency reserves to finance around seven months of imports, could face severe problems if the food import bill also rises, economists warn.

  • Vietnam’s spring rice crop impacted by weather

  • HANOI, VIETNAM – Abnormally cold weather, unseasonable rains and rising input costs led to a decrease in spring rice planted area and production in Vietnam, according to a Global Agricultural Information Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

    The report estimated that spring harvested area fell by 10,000 hectares from an estimate earlier this year to 3 million hectares and production declined from 20.5 million tonnes to 20.1 million.

    FAS forecasts total 2021-22 rice output at 43.31 million tonnes, revised down from 43.73 million tonnes earlier in the year.

    “Abnormally cold weather in the first quarter of this year and uneven rain distribution affected yields of the spring crop in the northern region,” FAS said. “Unseasonable rain has also not been beneficial for the spring crop in the southern region, reportedly affecting the harvest pace and kernel quality in some areas.”

    The report also noted that Vietnamese farmers tend to reduce their use of fertilizers and pesticides when prices are consistently high, which can lead to lower yields.

  • Chasing climate-ready glutinous rice for food security in Thailand and Laos

  • Chasing climate-ready glutinous rice for food security in Thailand and Laos

    food security in thailand, glutinous rice varieties

    Professor Apichart Vanavichit, Director of the Rice Science Center offers insight into how the next generation of glutinous rice varieties are critical to food security in Thailand and Laos

    Rice can be broadly classified based on cooking properties as glutinous and non-glutinous. Cooked glutinous rice is sticky, translucent, and chewy with a sweet aftertaste, while non-glutinous rice is fluffier, and less sticky and sweet. Furthermore, Glutinous rice contains more amylopectin, whereas non-glutinous rice contains more amylose.

    Origin of glutinous rice

    There are three groups of glutinous rice-based on grain sizes, small (japonica), medium (upland), and long slender (indica) grains. The origin of glutinous rice has become a hot topic for discussion by evolutionists who speculate that glutinous rice has two roots. Glutinous rice has been grown in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), especially in Laos, for 4,000 – 6,000 years, and at least 2,000 years in Yunnan, China, by Tai ethnic groups. In particular, ethnic groups in Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos helped conserve upland rice diversity. Furthermore, Laos has contributed the most remarkable genetic diversity in glutinous rice to the International Rice Genebank at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

    The key to food security

    Laos and Thailand are the only countries that consume glutinous rice as primary stable food. Laos consumes glutinous rice at 171 kg per year, the highest per capita consumption globally. In Thailand, glutinous rice is vital for household consumption in the north and northeast at 125-155 kg per capita per year. Thai farmers typically grow side-by-side, glutinous rice for household consumption and Hommali rice for cash. The current consumption of glutinous rice in Thailand has been on the rise recently due to the popularity of the northeastern cuisines in restaurants and street foods among Thais and tourists. From 2021 to 2026, the demand for glutinous rice is increasing healthily.

    Sticky rice is not just sticky

    Glutinous rice provides high amylopectin for the food and beverage industries. China is the major importer of glutinous rice from Thailand and Vietnam, mainly for alcohol production. Unlike such industrial utilisation, glutinous rice cooking is a delicacy that starts from rice cooking. Glutinous rice cannot be appropriately done in an ordinary automatic rice cooker but depends on traditional streaming practices in a unique bamboo basket. Different glutinous rice varieties are varied considerably on cooking qualities such as degrees of stickiness, chewiness, hardness, and fragrance.glutinous rice varieties, food security Thailand

    Cultivation of glutinous rice in Thailand

    Thailand is the world’s top glutinous rice producer on 3.17 Mha, generating about 7-7.5 MT and exporting about 7% annually. RD6, the most popular glutinous rice in Thailand and Laos, is widely grown in the northeast of Thailand. RD6 and Thai Hommali Rice (KDML105 and RD15) are the three most cultivated rice varieties occupying lowland rain-fed areas, constituting about 70% in northeastern Thailand. Fluctuations in rainfall distribution and poor soil fertility are critical constraints in the northeastern lowland rain-fed. Originated from gamma radiation of KDML105, RD6 is as susceptible to most biotic and abiotic stresses similar to the progenitor. Resilience to infertile soil, mild drought, salinity, and acid sulfate soil benefit high-quality Thai Hommali Rice and RD6 (Bureau of Rice Research and Development, Thailand Rice Department, 2010). Nonetheless, RD6 has still been the most popular glutinous rice in Thailand and Laos because of its soft-sticky and perfume quality of cooked rice.

    New waxy rice development

    Grain yield of glutinous RD6 and Thai Hom Mali Rice is as low as 2.32 t/ha due to their genetic makeups, soil infertility, and the lack of irrigation system in the main northeast area in Thailand. Traditional Thai RD6 and Lao TDK1 are tall, photoperiod sensitive, and susceptible to multiple biotic and abiotic stresses. RD6 has superior cooking quality with a strong aroma. Still, it is very vulnerable to blast and bacterial blight diseases, easily lodged, and intolerant to flood and drought, significant production constraints in the lowland rain-fed regions. To be accepted by farmers and consumers, new rice strains are improved to resist biotic and abiotic stresses and hold similar cooked rice quality as RD6 for prolonged softness, stickiness, chewiness, and fragrance. Because cooking glutinous rice is time-consuming, preservation is convenient for farmers and workers to consume the leftover later. Therefore, prolonged soft-stickiness is a critical characteristic of cooked glutinous rice to prevent staleness. This cooked rice quality is the hallmark for the genetic improvement of glutinous rice for household consumption in Thailand. By comprehensive gene pyramiding developed by the research team at the Innovative Plant Biotechnology and Precision Agriculture (APBT), newly improved RD6 varieties are designed to resist flash flooding, bacterial leaf blight, leaf blast, brown planthopper and gall-midge. In particular, focusing on canopy architecture such as reducing plant stature, sturdy stem, and early flowering is essential for the next generation of glutinous rice varieties. New outstanding glutinous rice varieties targeting the northeast area are released for farmers. The first famous glutinous rice is Thanyasirin, a photoperiod sensitive variety with superior cooking quality similar to RD6 but withstanding lodging. It is outstanding in its resistance to a broad spectrum of blast strains. The next variety, Nan 59, is a semi-dwarf photoperiod sensitive variety with the same cooking quality as RD6 and additional characteristics such as resistance to blast and bacterial leaf blight. Nan 59 has been the favourite variety because of its high yielding in a sustainable low production cost. The newest generation named Hom Naga is outstanding for early flowering with good cooking quality, tolerance to flash flooding and drought, and resistance to blast and bacterial blight. Now farmers can grow Hom Naga two times yearly. With assistance from the breeding team in Thailand, improving TDK1 for resistance to flash flooding, bacterial leaf blight, leaf blast, brown planthopper, and grain yield has been accomplished by the close collaboration between Thailand and Laos. The new high-yielding TDK8 was released for farmers in Laos. It is aromatic, has good cooking quality with short stature, early maturing (130-135 days), and most of all, resistance to lodging and leaf blast disease. These varieties have helped Thai and Lao farmers improve grain yields at low inputs that allow more for their households, earn more income through higher yields than traditional varieties, and are more able to withstand the impacts of climate change.

    Cost-benefit of new varieties

    The selection of many tailor-made RD6 varieties, such as Thanya Sirin and Nan 59, guided farmers and stakeholder communities in a farmers’ participatory program. Such a tactic induced farmers to voluntarily adopt new glutinous rice varieties and perform good farmers’ safe seed practices for sustainability and benefit-sharing among farmers, breeders and rice millers. For the popular Thanya Sirin, the economic benefits are mainly to farmers, in terms of increasing their revenue from yield enhancement both for consumption and sales and reducing production costs. The present value of net benefits in 2018 was 150 million baht. The benefit-cost ratio was seven times over the expense, for one baht of research investment, seven-baht return. In conclusion, the investment in glutinous rice breeding is economically worth it and has already generated high benefits for society. glutinous rice varieties, food security thailand Acknowledgement These projects have been supported by the Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA), Cluster and Program Management Office (CPMO), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) (Grant number P-18-52711) and NSRF via the Program Management Unit for Human Resources and Institutional Development, Research, and Innovation (Grant No. B16F630088).
  • Climate change could increase rice yields

  • Climate change could increase rice yields
    Many people around the globe rely on rice as a source of nutrition. Credit: Rachel Schutte
    Rice is the most consumed staple food in the world. It is especially common in Asia, where hunger concerns are prevalent.
    Rice is classified as an annual plant, which means it completes its life cycle within one growing season then dies. However, in some , rice can continue to grow year after year when taken care of properly. Just as grass grows back in a lawn after it is mowed, rice can be cut after it is harvested, and the plant will regrow. The farming practice of cutting the rice above ground and allowing it to regrow is called ratooning. Although Rice ratooning allows farmers to harvest more rice from the same fields, it requires a longer growing season compared to traditional single-harvest rice farming. In many areas of the world where rice is grown, a long growing season isn't a problem due to the tropical climates. But in Japan, cooler weather means rice ratooning has been a rare farming practice. Hiroshi Nakano and a research team set out to learn more about the potential of ratooning to help Japanese rice farmers. Nakano is a researcher at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization. Average temperatures in Japan have been higher in recent years. As climate change continues to affect the region, rice farmers may have a longer window for growing rice. "Rice seedlings will be able to be transplanted earlier in the spring, and farmers can harvest rice later into the year," explains Nakano.
    Climate change could increase rice yields
    Rice seeds are arranged on the plant in groups, called spikelets. This field of rice is ready for harvest. Credit: Hiroshi Nakano
    "The goal of our research is to determine the effects of harvest time and cutting  of the first harvest on the yield of the first and second rice crops," says Nakano. "Ultimately, we want to propose new farming strategies to increase yield as farmers in southwestern Japan adjust to climate change." During the study on rice ratooning, researchers compared two harvest times and two cutting heights of the first crop. After the first harvest, they collected the seeds from the cut off portions of the rice . Researchers measured the yield by counting and weighing the seeds. The second harvest of rice was done by hand and the yield was determined in the same way.
    The total grain yield and the yields from the first and second crops were different depending on the harvest times and cutting heights. This wasn't too surprising, since the team already knew harvest time and height affected yield. Rice plants harvested at the normal time for the first crop yielded more seed than the rice plants harvested earlier. "That's because the plants had more time to fill their spikelets with seed," explains Nakano.
    Climate change could increase rice yields
    Comparison of the two cut heights of rice five days after harvesting the first crop. Credit: Chiemi Nagamatsu
    "At both harvest times, rice harvested at the high cutting height had a higher yield than the low cutting height," says Nakano. That's because the plants cut at a higher height had access to more energy and nutrients stored in their leaves and stems. "Our results suggest that combining the normal  time with the high cutting height is important for increasing yield in rice ratooning in southwestern Japan and similar climate regions," says Nakano. "This technology will likely increase  grain yield in new environments that arise through global climate change."
  • Climate change to hurt wheat, rice crop yields

  • Climate change to hurt wheat, rice crop yields Islamabad: The global warming-induced by rising global temperatures can badly affect the country’s food production system in shape of crop yield losses and reduced growing cycles in the various climatic zones of the country. Spokesperson of ministry of climate change Mohammad Saleem said that wheat crop yield will be reduced by 3.4 to 12.5 per cent in semi-arid irrigated areas including Faisalabad, Sheikhupura and 3.8 to 14.5 per cent in arid areas including Hyderabad, Badin, Bahawalpur and Multan. He said, around 16 per cent decline in overall wheat produce in rain-dependent areas has been forecasted in various areas of the Potohar region including Chakwal district under different climate change scenarios towards the end of ongoing century. “The rice crop yields are likely to register fall by 12 to 22 per cent in almost all rice growing areas of the country by end of this century because of the rising global temperatures,” he estimated quoting findings of the GCISC’s crop simulation models. He said that growing temperatures pose a serious risk to Pakistan’s efforts for achieving sustainable food security and meet food consumption needs of the spiking population, according to studies based on various projections of climate change impacts on the country’s agriculture and water resources. He said that like the most developing countries, Pakistanis staring at the radar of food insecurity, with its food production out of sync with population growth.The food availability scenario is further aggravated by shifting weather patterns with recurring severe droughts and floods that affect the country’s overall crop production, the spokesperson added. He explained that studies carried out by the Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC), a Ministry’s research wing, pointed out that average temperature over Pakistan would increase in the coming decades at a pace faster than that of the average global temperature increase.“The temperature rise in Pakistan may exceed by about one degree Celsius by the end of this century, Saleem said quoting the GCISC studies. He said that these simulation models further indicate that length of cultivation periods of these important crops would shorten, which would lead to pronounced plunges in yields of not only rice and wheat but also other crops such as maize and vegetables. The water requirements of different crops including wheat and rice could register steep rise in coming decades on account of local impacts of global warming induced by untamed rise in the global temperatures. “The climate simulation models have revealed that net crop water requirements would sharply increase because of the global warming impacts on Pakistan’s already rapidly shrinking water resources. However, reduced water availability for these food crops in coming decades, which are vital to the country’s sustainable food security, may not help meet the rising water requirements of the various crops,” Saleem said. As a result, overall productivity of different food crops would decline as long as water conservation technologies, drought-resilient and high-yield crop varieties, rainwater harvesting programmes and direct seeding technologies were not deployed on war-footing,” he cautioned.
  • Climate change will adversely hit rice productivity, say Indian scientists

  • By Sunderarajan Padmanabhan New Delhi: Global climate change is projected to have wide ranging effects on the environment and on socio-economic and related sectors. Indian agriculture scientists have found that rising temperature will adversely hit rice productivity in the country. Experiments done in Tamil Nadu show that elevated temperature will have a negative impact on rice productivity, even nullifying the positive effects of higher level of carbon dioxide. Researchers at the Coimbatore-based Tamil Nadu Agricultural University conducted a study on rice which is a staple food for most people in the region. According to Manila-based International Rice Research Institute, rice provides 23 percent of global human per capita energy and 16 per cent of global human per capita protein.
    Representative image. Reuters

    Representative image. Reuters

                    The study involved actual cultivation of the cereal in a climate control chamber (CCC) where the temperature was maintained at four degrees above the ambient temperature and a carbon dioxide enrichment level of 650 parts per million (ppm). The experiment was carried out with four different days of planting – 1 June, 15 June, 1 July and 15 July. It was seen that crops grown under the projected conditions attained panicle initiation, flowering and maturity much earlier than those grown under the ambient condition. But, recorded reduced growth characters such as leaf area index, dry matter production and number of tillers. In addition, lesser percentage of dry matter was partitioned towards grain and more for the roots. Subsequently, they recorded lower grain and straw yields. Overall, elevated temperature was found to have a negative impact on rice productivity, even nullifying the positive effects of higher level of carbon dioxide. The researchers have published a report on their work in the latest issue of journal Current Science. The study was conducted by V.Geethalakshmi, K.Bhuvaneswari and A. Lakshmanan of  TNAU and N. Udaya Sekhar of  Bioforsk, Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research.
  • The System of Rice Intensification’s Role in Hunger, Climate Change

  • Norman Uphoff is the Senior Advisor for the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice), a program at Cornell University engaged with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is a climate-smart, yield-increasing agriculture methodology that is being utilized by more than 10 million smallholder farms in over 55 countries. Uphoff is working to expand SRI’s international network and strengthen the knowledge base for SRI and its extension to other crops. Here he explains the basic principles of SRI, the implications of the methodology, and the role it can play in agriculture in the future.  More at: The System of Rice Intensification’s Role in Hunger, Climate Change, and Communities
  • Reinventing Rice for a World Transformed by Climate Change

  • UC Davis plant geneticist Pamela Ronald wants to create rice varieties that can survive in harsher conditions, including more frequent droughts.

    • by James Temple
    • May 4, 2017
    • Plant geneticist Pamela Ronald in her lab’s greenhouse at UC Davis.
    More at: Reinventing Rice for a World Transformed by Climate Change