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In 2013, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) had released nine salt-tolerant varieties in the Philippines
The 44 new varieties released last year in Asia and Africa include nine salt-tolerant varieties in the Philippines, three flood-tolerant varieties in South Asia, and six in sub-Saharan Africa. In total, 21 were released in the Philippines, six in Bangladesh, five in Myanmar, three in Nigeria, two in Tanzania, two in India, and one each in Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Rwanda.
Eero Nissila, head of IRRI’s breeding division, said, “Overall, IRRI has released around a thousand improved rice varieties across 78 countries since its establishment in 1960.”
An independent assessment by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) found that Southeast Asian rice farmers in three countries have been harvesting an extra US$1.46bn worth of rice every year as a result of the research work done by IRRI and its partners. A 13 per cent boost in yield gave returns of US$127 per hectare in southern Vietnam, US$76 per hectare in Indonesia, and US$52 per hectare in the Philippines, the study added.
Similarly, a study commissioned by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on the impact of investments in rice research suggested that a US$12mn investment in rice research has returned more than US$70mn in benefits to rice farmers and national economies in four Asian countries. The countries covered in the study were Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Around half of the current global population — or about 3.5 billion people — relies on rice as a source of sustenance and livelihood, IRRI said.