New Rice Varieties Can Temper High Prices

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Rice prices are likely to remain high as demand rises, but countries can boost supply and temper prices by switching to climate change-ready varieties, the head of a rice research agency said Feb. 28.

“We expect global demand in rice to be strong for the foreseeable future as the population grows,” said Robert Zeigler, director general at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Meanwhile, weather conditions are expected to be more severe in the coming years, with more frequent droughts and flooding that would stall rice production.

IRRI has developed new rice varieties that can help farmers boost production even in extreme weather conditions, Zeigler said.

“We have developed flood-tolerant varieties that have already been released in the Philippines and Bangladesh, and farmers are very happy with the yield and the quality,” he said, adding that IRRI remained confident of developing more climate change-ready varieties.

The Philippines has set a target of attaining rice self-sufficiency by 2013, and it plans to do so by using climate-change ready rice varieties.

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