Forging partnerships with the private sector opens up opportunities to maximize our research-for-development impact. IRRI, through the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC), facilitates a collaboration that would advance hybrid rice development and dissemination for smallholder rice farmers in Asia.
Thirty-nine HRDC members gathered at IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna earlier this week to discuss achievements and plans to improve hybrid rice research and sharing in the following year.
“This year, we were able to develop new populations and parental lines for breeding, new hybrids for testing, and new DNA markers for forward breeding,” says Dr. Jauhar Ali, IRRI senior scientist and HRDC Coordinator. “These advances generated more resources and opportunities that enabled HRDC members to develop high-performing varieties,” he adds.
Furthermore, Dr. Ali has also reported the licensing of two hybrid rice varieties, Mestiso 61 and Mestiso 68, to HRDC Gold Member SL Agritech Corporation under the limited exclusivity agreement. Mestiso 30, another new hybrid rice variety was provided to HRDC Platinum Member Advanta under a non-exclusivity license agreement. “These agreements are expected to generate benefits not just for HRDC but more importantly, for the smallholder farmers who will use the developed varieties,” says Dr. Ali.
One of the highlights of the two-day meeting is a series of discussions led by IRRI scientists on
effective bacterial genomics for effective pathogen monitoring in rice, the potential of direct seeded rice hybrids in maximizing productivity and environmental sustainability in Asia, and the impacts of hybrid rice in the yield and income of smallholder farmers. According to a study conducted by Dr. Jose Yorobe, Jr, farmers from Pangasinan, Philippines had a 36% increase in net farm income by using hybrids. Compared with inbred varieties, farmers were able to harvest an additional 1.2 tons per hectare.
At the end of the meeting, participants also had a guided tour of HRDC demonstration plots showcasing IRRI’s hybrid rice varieties.
Aside from ongoing efforts to improve and expand breeding activities, using genomic tools, and advanced artificial intelligence for improving parental lines, HRDC is also organizing two training courses in 2019. These courses will focus on hybrid rice seed production and on hybrid rice technology for executives and policy makers. For more information about these courses, please visit http://hrdc.irri.org.