ASEAN +3 nations agree to advance rice breeding
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — The International Rice Research Institute’s  (IRRI) proposal to develop new rice varieties amid climate change got a big boost.

This as IRRI secured the endorsement of ASEAN member states as well as Korea, Japan, and China to establish ASEAN Rice Net, a new regional network for sharing and evaluation of advanced IRRI-developed rice breeding lines.

The ASEAN Rice Net will be launched in 2020 and is projected to generate economic benefits of at least $500 million from variety releases alone across the ASEAN region.

Through sharing of IRRI-bred advanced lines carrying characteristics desired by farmers and rice value chain stakeholders, farmers can continue to be productive under the variable climate change environmental conditions.

“IRRI wants to ensure that no country in ASEAN is left behind in terms of access to rice variety based technologies and skills,” said Shoba Venkatanagappa, head of IRRI’s ASEAN Rice Net Program.

Over the long term, the network will enable partner countries to co-develop new, improved rice varieties, enhance technical skills of scientists through training, and increase the capacity of national rice breeding programs across ASEAN organizations.

The partnership is underpinned by the Rice Genetic Solutions for Climate Resilience and Value Addition program, which will help accelerate farmers’ access to high value varieties under climate change environmental conditions and drive long-term increases in rice productivity and income.

The endorsement enables IRRI to also communicate closely with the ASEAN + 3 for the development of both technical and financing support modalities for the network.

“IRRI will assist ASEAN to meet their Sustainable Development Goals for food security and contribute to ensuring that ASEAN +3 nations have sufficient capacity to increase their rice productivity, which will be critical to meeting the food and nutrition security needs of consumers in the region,” IRRI director general Matthew Morell said.

He said the region would need to secure its rice production while addressing climate change challenges, declining availability of land for agriculture due to land degradation, continued population growth and rapid urbanization.

The Philippines is supporting IRRI’s proposal to involve ASEAN +3 in the selection and the development of new rice varieties that are resilient to multiple environmental stresses, pest and diseases.

This initiative is expected to elevate the production capacity in the region.

The Philipines pressed this proposal during the 41st ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting (AMAF).

The ASEAN has implemented numerous cooperation projects in food, agriculture and forestry sectors, which cover a wide spectrum of activities ranging from exchange of information, crop production, postharvest and handling, training and extension, research and development as well as trade promotion in the areas of crops, livestock, fisheries, and forestry.

In order to respond to trade globalization, ASEAN cooperation in food, agriculture and forestry is now more focused on the enhancement of food, agricultural and forestry products competitiveness in international markets, while sustaining agricultural production.

Harmonization of quality and standards, assurance of food safety, and standardization of trade certification are amongst the priorities being addressed, building upon the experience of some member states and existing international standards.

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