MISSUE NO. 3616 

April 19 - 24, 2013


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Super salt-tolerant rice to allow
farmers to reclaim livelihood

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) noted that rising seawater cause rice farms along coastal areas to be salty

MANILA (Xinhua) -- Rice farmers living along coastal areas will no longer have to abandon their farms after the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) announced on Tuesday that it has developed the super salt-tolerant rice.

Philippine-based IRRI revealed that the super salt-tolerant rice has double the salinity tolerance of other rice varieties, making it suitable for saline-stricken rice farms in coastal areas. IRRI noted that rising seawater cause rice farms along coastal areas to be salty.

“Saline-stricken rice farms are usually abandoned by coastal farmers because the encroaching seawater has rendered the soil useless. That means livelihood lost for these communities,” said IRRI lead scientist Dr. Kshirod Jena.

Unlike regular rice, Jena said the new rice line can expel salt it takes from the soil into the air through salt glands on its leaves.

IRRI said the new rice variety was bred by successfully crossing two different rice parents—the exotic wild rice species Oryza coarctata and rice variety IR56 of the cultivated rice species O. sativa.

O. coarctata, IRRI noted, is a special type of rice that grows in brackish, salty water. This makes it highly resistant to saltiness in the soil.

Jena’s team successfully rescued three embryos out of 34,000 crosses. Out of these three, one plant survived to give scientists enough material to back-cross and make sure that only the desired trait—double salt-tolerance—is acquired from the wild species.

IRRI is currently in the process of perfecting the super salt- tolerant rice. The variety will be tested widely to ensure that it meets all the needs of farmers and consumers.

The Philippine-based institute hopes to make available the super salt-tolerant rice to farmers within 4 to 5 years.


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