Submarino Rice

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.

From Molecule to Molecule

An agricultural value chain often refers to the sequence of events from a crop being produced to it being ingested. Although ensuring that highly nutritious crops are being developed, distributed and digested is important, to guarantee that they are targeting and relieving micronutrient deficiencies, requires an extending of value chains as we know them: from molecule of micronutrient in the crop to molecule of micronutrient, and its effects, in the human body. Moreover, evidence of impact needs to be collected at each step along this chain.

HarvestPlus, launched in 2004 and part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), has developed several biofortified crops such as orange fleshed sweet potatoes (OSP), which boasts enhanced levels of vitamin A. HarvestPlus works along an impact pathway, not unlike a value chain, for each biofortified crop, which encompasses three phases: discovery of the problem and possible solutions; development of crops and methods of adoption and delivery of crops including measurement of impact. [Read more…]