This week in Thailand, the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) announced it has piloted a project to deploy the newly developed flood- and pest- resistant rice strain in Ubon Ratchathani Province, while promoting low-cost rice farming techniques among local farmers.
BIOTEC has organized a seminar educating farmers in the province on low cost farming techniques, while introducing the organization’s new strain of rice that allegedly can withstand floods, burnt disease, and pests.
The move is designed to help farmers earn at least 100,000 baht per one rai of rice paddy field with the help of the provided know-how and the new rice strain.
According to the local Agriculture Office, the move is aimed at encouraging the new generation of farmers to engage in organic farming.
Floods and Drought in Thailand
The timing of the announcement couldn’t have been more pertinent. There are currently 9 provinces in southern Thailand suffering from flooding after several days of heavy northeast monsoon rainfall. Worse could still be to come after the Interior Ministry issued severe weather warnings for 10 southern provinces.
Yet at the same time other parts of the country are expected to suffer from drought. According to Director-General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Chatchai Promlert, approximately 9,535 villages are expected to be affected by the drought due to lower precipitation, a decreased water reserve in the reservoirs, and the lack of water supply in some areas.
He said that about 300,000 agricultural households would be affected from the drought. Therefore, the department proposed several counter measures including providing employment in other areas for the farmers living in affected areas, promoting the vocational training and the support of plants and livestock, and the planting of soil-conditioning plants.
Flood Resistant Rice in Nepal
In Nepal, rice is the country’s most important crop, planted on more than 50% of its arable land. Around 65% of the country’s population are involved in agriculture in some way.
But over recent times, farmers have been badly affected by changing weather patterns. Which is why they are turning to the use of new strains of rice developed by the International Rice Research Institute and approved by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC). Nepal’s scientists say the new seeds are vital in order to deal with changing weather patterns − in particular, the increasingly erratic behaviour of the all-important South Asia monsoon.
Flood Resistant Maize in USA
Earlier this month, scientists from Florida State University announced that their research could lead to a better understanding of how plants could adapt to and survive environmental swings such as droughts or floods.
The research, published in the latest issue of the journal The Plant Cell, sheds light on how chromatin (the complex of DNA and proteins) is organized in a cell and how plants regulate genetic material, so that some genes are turned on and others are turned off.
“If you understand how plants regulate their genetic material, you can possibly manipulate that in certain circumstances so that plants can withstand environmental changes,” said Daniel Vera, the lead author on the paper.