The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) exhibited rice varieties that can help reduce agricultural damages due to climate change during the 13th National Biotechnology Week in Fishermall, Quezon City, Nov. 20-24.
“Promoting these varieties is one of the things that we can do to help the farmers,” Dr. Roel R. Suralta, Crop Biotechnology Center (CBC) of the Department of Agriculture, said.
The Global Climate Risk Index for 1996-2015 showed that the country suffered US$2761 million loss from the 11,000 extreme weather events during the period. This listed the Philippines in the top 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change.
As of 2017, PhilRice has developed 14 climate change-ready varieties through biotechnology. Farmers are already planting these varieties that can withstand drought, flashflood, and salinity.
Varieties include Tubigan 7 (NSIC Rc142), the country’s first product of marker-aided selection; Tubigan 3 (NSIC Rc130), PhilRice’s first variety developed through anther culture; and NSIC Rc194 (Submarino 1), which can survive after submergence in flood water for two weeks.
“Biotechnology helps improve rice like it does to soy sauce, bread, and beer. Through biotechnology, varieties are developed in 5-7 years. In conventional breeding, it takes 10-12 years,” Suralta, a multi-awarded scientist, said.
Suralta also said that farmers can gain more income as biotechnology helps in developing rice that is 35% more productive than today’s high-yielding varieties. Cleaner and greener environment is also expected through varieties that have high resistance to diseases and harmful insects.
With the theme, Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran: Lamang ang Masa at Magsasaka sa Limang “K” ng Bioteknolohiya, this year’s celebration supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to provide available and affordable food for the people.
CBC implemented the exhibit with the Rice Science Museum of PhilRice.