Integrating breeding and crop management solutions for intensive systems

 

This theme focuses on building a durable framework for enhanced food security that endeavors to provide smallholder rice farmers with reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable food and income. Improvements to agricultural productivity are achieved by identifying and exploiting integrated genetic and crop management solutions that realize synergistic benefits otherwise unattainable by a single strategy.

 

Challenge

There is a lack of food security for smallholder farmers, with hunger, malnutrition, and poverty traps preventing improvements in livelihood. Hundreds of millions of people are in this situation globally, with many regions of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa extensively and severely affected.

 

Contribution

Building a strong globalized community of practice for rice breeding centered around best practices that leverage modernized breeding technologies. Also developing innovative crop management solutions like Rice Crop Manager that improve management practices through ICT.

If small holder famers have access to best management practices as well as a steady stream of new high yielding rice varieties that are suited to perform well under those conditions, they will not only increase their livelihoods, but will be buffered against the potential negative impacts of climate change.

This can be achieved by increasing the rate of genetic gain delivered by breeding programs under farmer management conditions with parallel improvements in the quality of farmer management practices. Over time, as new varieties are released into the seed system, they will be increasingly adapted to the climate they were selected in and to the management conditions they were selected under.

IRRI’s rice breeding programs have recently undergone significant changes to breeding strategy resulting in a stronger and more modernized breeding system. Additionally IRRI has built strong partnerships over the last 10 years with NARES programs in South Asia which form the basis of a unified community of practice. Likewise Rice Crop Manager and other agronomic initiatives have had strong penetration in the Philippines and are being targeted for South Asia as well.

The theme intends to continue to build upon this strong foundation by identifying ways in which management recommendations can be made to farmers in a variety specific way to ensure that the variety planted by the farmer responds appropriately to the recommended management practices. Additionally there will be a stronger and more concerted effort to increase our ability to deliver innovation in Eastern and Southern Africa where IRRI has an opportunity to build upon existing capacity in the region and translate successes we’ve had in Philippines and South Asia to an area where the need is more severe.

 

Impact

Increased food security for smallholder farmers through access to continuously updated modern varieties that respond to best management practices.

The poor will have increased revenue streams through improved yields.

As agriculture often occupies a large percentage of developing countries GDP, increased performance will aggregate across regions to lead to enhanced self reliance and a lessened dependence on imported food.

Increased incomes and improved livelihoods will provide resources that allow for better diets, more specialization of labor, and increased opportunities for young people to seek an education.