Rice Today Vol. 6 No. 4, October –December 2007
The China challenge—how to feed one-fifth of humanity?
The latest from Rice Today, the magazine of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Los Baños, Philippines – China is home to more people than any other country on the planet. Feeding 1.3 billion people—a fifth of humanity—is an enormous challenge. One of the keys to China’s food security in recent decades is the country’s development of high-yielding hybrid rice varieties, which helped pull millions out of the hunger of the 1960s. The new issue of Rice Today looks at the fascinating history of hybrid rice, documenting how China, with help from IRRI, has become the hybrid world leader.
As part of the latest issue’s China special, the magazine also ventured into the Chinese province of Anhui, where farmers are struggling to cope with rapidly diminishing access to water. With Chinese collaborators, IRRI is developing aerobic rice—varieties that yield well when grown in unflooded fields, like wheat or maize. Aerobic rice requires around 50% less water, is cheaper to manage, and requires less labor than lowland (flood-irrigated) rice. Aerobic varieties are also better able to withstand severe rains and flooding, prevalent in Anhui in the summer months, that can damage or destroy alternative summer crops such as maize and soybean.
Maintaining the focus on China, Rice Today’s map section raises the question of whether or not climate change is affecting where rice is grown, while Grain of truth examines challenges for Chinese rice production.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam and Laos, researchers are working on ways to improve the productivity of rice landscapes in the countries’ mountainous northern regions. Improved rice varieties, water use, and crop management in these notoriously unfavorable environments can give farmers the security they need to achieve food security, boost their income, and help the environment. The magazine’s stunning centerfold photo demonstrates the beauty of rice terraces in the same region.
Looking at the faces behind rice research, the magazine profiles soon-to-retire IRRI molecular biologist John Bennett, who reveals himself as a scientist who not only appreciates art—he blurs the distinction between art and science.
The Africa section explains how, in the face of steeply rising rice prices, three of the world’s leading international agricultural research institutes plan to combine their activities in Africa and so create a powerful new force focused on boosting African rice production.
The magazine’s regular Rice facts column looks at the future of the global rice market, asking what the coming years hold for the world’s most important grain. The current issue’s recipe shows readers how to make delicious sticky rice, prawn, and water chestnut dumplings.
All of this, plus the latest news, views, and books, is available now in the October–December 2007 issue of Rice Today. Magazines are now in the mail to subscribers. To subscribe to Rice Today’s electronic newsletter, which offers links to the full content of the magazine, contact Chris Quintana ([email protected]) and copy your request to publisher Duncan Macintosh ([email protected]). Send editorial inquiries to Adam Barclay ([email protected]).
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The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s leading rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines, with offices in 13 other countries, IRRI is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers funded through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an association of public and private donor agencies (www.cgiar.org).
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For information, contact Duncan Macintosh, IRRI, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines;
tel +63-2-580-5600; fax: +63-2-580-5699; email [email protected].
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