Knowledge for Development

Rethinking the rice value chain

Investments in science and engineering as well as the optimization of research results and indigenous knowledge can catalyse agricultural innovation as well as enhance the performance of agricultural value chains. Capitalizing on the potential of science and technology, traditional knowledge and entrepreneurship to produce high-quality rice that benefit farmers, consumers and national economies is the focus of this new dossier. Two new lead articles as well as documents and links that provide details of the rice value chain and ways of using science and technology to boost yields and incomes are featured in this new K4D folder. 

Harnessing the potential of indigenous rice lines: an issue of food sovereignty

by Narottam Dey, Department of Biotechnology, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India
In this feature article, Narottam Dey calls for renewed interest in indigenous rice lines to counter the erosion of the crop's genetic diversity. Given the high degree of genetic heterogeneity and a long evolutionary history, rice landraces have proven to be highly adaptive to diverse environmental conditions and are believed to harbour a number of valuable genetic resources for crop improvement.  He argues that the Green Revolution led to the development of a number of high-yielding rice varieties (HYVs) that require both irrigation and fertilizer management and specific cultivation practices to achieve their full yield potential. The widespread use of these high-yielding rice lines has led to the premature abandonment of many indigenous lines. Dey believes the only way to popularise and utilize indigenous lines in future breeding programmes is through the development of a databank with detailed agro-morphology, physio-biochemical and molecular screening with trait-linked markers and specific genes. Many research laboratories are working on improving the knowledge base and a number of promising lines are being utilized in breeding through marker-assisted selection. 15/09/2014

How realistic is the prospect of low-carbon rice production? Lessons from China

by Sheng Zhou and Xiangfu Song, Eco-environmental Protection Research Institute, Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS), Shanghai, China.
In this feature article, Sheng Zhou and Xiangfu summarize some realistic methods for reducing methane emissions in rice production. They present some case studies of efforts to mitigate methane emissions, such as irrigation management, the use of suitable rice cultivars (e.g. water-saving and drought-resistant rice, WDR) and combinations of different fertilizers. The production, oxidation and transport of methane in rice fields are influenced by many factors, including the rice cultivars, the cultivation system, water regimes practiced, and types of fertilizer. Simultaneously, soil carbon sequestration in rice fields is a key potential approach for turning rice fields from being a source of greenhouse gas emissions to being a carbon sink. 15/09/2014
This lead article describes the experiences of SNV in strengthening the rice value chains in Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia. It especially considers the role of the traditional knowledge system and the changes and adaptations associated with responding to market developments and private sector involvement. It also analyses how the actors in the value chain use both traditional and scientific and technological knowledge in a changing environment. 20/11/2012
This lead article outlines the benefits of the SRI system, in particular alternate wetting and drying irrigation (AWD), which allows a 20-50% direct reduction of irrigation water applied to the rice paddy. Under the current practice of continuously-flooded rice paddies, rice crops receive two to three times more water than other irrigated cereal crops, even though rice has a similar transpiration rate. Developing methodologies that improve water-use efficiency or water productivity in rice production will allow for saving water and for its reallocation to other uses.  20/11/2012
The new rice variety is the fruit of a partnership between FOFIFA (The Island’s national centre for rural development) and CIRAD, and is tailored to the agro-climatic conditions in the region. In particular, it is tolerant of the cold temperatures over 1200 m above sea level. Varietal creation needs to continue, to support this development and broaden the range of available varieties so as to ensure the sustainability of high-altitude upland rice production by taking on board several objectives such as resistance to rice blast fungus, nitrogen uptake efficiency, diversification of grain quality, cold tolerance and adaptation to farming systems developed as part of a conservation agriculture strategy. (CIRAD, 13/06/2012) 11/07/2012