Expanding horizons in rice

 Lanie Reyes   |  

As we usher in the year 2015, Rice Today continues to survey the near and far horizons of the rice world and report the latest on sustainable development, trade, and other issues that surround the favorite grain of half of humanity. So, what will the new year bring? We hope that it will bring more breakthroughs from rice scientists.

Rice Today will continue to examine the many issues that affect the rice industry across its value chain—from the overall economic and international trading conditions of rice and those that are alleviating poverty to resources and technologies that farmers are turning to for help with their rice growing.

In our first installment of 2015, we have a special set of six “ricetorical” pieces that chronicle the successes of breeding in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). We highlight the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR) and its 20-year history of being the primary force behind the region’s rice technology development. We feature two women in LAC who have put wind in the sails of the rice revolution in the region. Read about A passion for growing rice in Venezuela, which is a testament to how the country is working hard to regain its strength  through expanding innovation in LAC. Read about A four-decade quest to improve rice in Latin America and the Caribbean by scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) who have been developing an ideal rice plant type for the region’s changing needs. Find out how a small country such as Uruguay has become an exporter in less than 100 years. (Read Uruguayan rice: the secrets of a success story.) And finally, learn about the Rise of rice on Peru’s sacred ground as the country has become LAC’s most important producer after Brazil. All these success stories would not have been possible without the region’s spirit of working together and partnership.

Elsewhere in this issue, Sam Mohanty, senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), looks at the current trends in the global rice market. We also report on outcomes during the Global Rice Market and Trade Summit that took place in Bangkok, 28-29 October 2014. Economists there discussed driving forces such as government policies, climate change, increasing population, and migration of farmers to cities among other factors that will most likely affect the global rice industry now and what it will take to attain an open and transparent rice trade in the future.

We have all heard about the Green Revolution. However, during his keynote address that opened the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014) in Bangkok last October, Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general, added a new twist, suggesting that a three-phase Green Revolution series actually exists, GR1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. He declared that GR2.0, which already started by his reckoning in July 2008, will be fruitful—and quicker than GR1.0—and that GR3.0, which will kick in around 2030, will stagger the imagination in what will be achieved. Read about Dr. Zeigler’s intriguing presentation and his insights in No farmer left behind.

Bas Bouman, director of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), shares concrete examples of GRiSP’s unprecedented successes worldwide in finding solutions to the problems in rice production, storage, and distribution through sharing of resources, ideas, and technologies among research development partners across the continents. Check his Grain of Truth—GRiSP: Partnership for success.

As shown by the GRiSP model, breeders are combining forces to modernize programs for an efficient and effective delivery of improved varieties and biotechnology tools are being improved all the time in accuracy and usability. However, some of these tools remain needlessly controversial and are being held back by politics, according to Mark Lynas, a former anti-GM activist, who gave one of the plenary presentations at IRC2014. He advocates bringing about a food-secure world this century by using both conventional and transgenic techniques to contribute meaningfully in helping marginalized sectors of society, particulary poor women and children. See Where’s my GM rice? for his thoughts as he asks,

On lighter notes, check out a Korean rice fable, The good brothers, which centers on helping one another and fraternal love. And then try out our featured What’s cooking recipe, Tah Chin saffron rice and chicken—a very tasty Iranian dish!

Happy reading!

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