Scuba rice detailed in Chapter 9, is having a large impact in the Philippines where flooding devastated the country in August 2012. After Typhoon Saola hit at the end of July, the country was besieged by heavy rains, with over a month’s worth falling in just two days. Over two million people across 30 cities in 16 provinces have been affected by the floods.
Although typically a rice importer, the Philippines has increased average rice yields from 1.16 tons per hectare in 1960 to 3.59 tons per hectare in 2009. This is both higher than average rice yields in Thailand (the world’s leading rice exporter) and greater than the growth in global average rice yield over the same period. This has been largely due to science and innovation and to the work of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños: more than 75 IRRI-bred high-yielding rice varieties have been adopted since 1960.
One such variety bred by IRRI and promoted by the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is Submarino rice. A variety of scuba rice, this crop can withstand flooding for two weeks if occurring before flowering. It has been widely adopted in the country partly due to the DA’s education, extension and communication campaigns. It is hoped that this rice will allow the Philippines to continue raising yields despite the predicted rise in extreme weather events such as flooding.