IRRI DDG has difficulty finding right rice variety shock

What we would have wanted is a simple, more concrete variety selection tool that could have guided us to a few specific options, and also provided us with enough variety performance information for making the final choice. The latter doesn’t seem to be easily accessible. On the other hand, informal feedback received from farmers and extension workers suggests that NSIC Rc 222 has performed well since it was released. So, we can also use this see with your own eyes or hear from others information for making our decision. Perhaps that is also what many farmers do.

That’s none other than Dr Achim Dobermann, the DDG of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), on the difficulties of finding the right variety to use in his attempt to grow a rice crop.1

Will he do anything about it, I wonder. And wouldn’t it have been nice to have grown a local landrace side-by-side with NSIC Rc 222 (aka Tubigan 18, aka IRRI 154). Great idea for a DDG to get so down and dirty, though. Not to mention blog about it.

Incidentally, NSIC Rc 222 (aka Tubigan 18, aka IRRI 154) has an, ahem, interesting history, which you can explore by typing any of its names into IRRI’s International Rice Information System.

  1. Which you can also follow on Facebook. []

4 Replies to “IRRI DDG has difficulty finding right rice variety shock”

  1. It might not automatically be a good idea to grow a local landrace if you want the best variety. I suspect that local landraces are so constrained by co-evolved biotic pressures – pests and diseases – that they do better elsewhere where climate and day-length are suitable but co-evolved biotic pressures less. This seems to be the main reason for the `miracle’ – not my word – of soyabean in North America rather than Eastern Asia.

    “Thus the first-order rationale for preferring native plants—that, as locally evolved, they are best adapted—cannot be sustained. I strongly suspect that a large majority of well-adapted natives could be supplanted by some exotic form that has never experienced the immediate habitat. In Darwinian terms, this exotic would be better adapted than the native…” Gould, S.J. (1997) An evolutionary perspective on strengths, fallacies, and confusions in the concept of native plants. In: Wolschke-Bulmahn, J. (ed) Nature and Ideology: Natural Garden Design in the Twentieth Century, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, USA, pp. 11–19.

    Has anyone compared the very extensive CGIAR trial results on lots of different crops to see if local checks (when they are landraces) performed better that the CGIAR varieties? This would roughly quantify the perhaps mythical `local adaptation’ of landraces.

    And Achim is trying to put his efforts in the context of a farmer. The difference being that Achim has access to the best range of rice varieties in the world (which he cannot ignore in his choice) when, in contrast, farmers may be severely constrained for both variation and quality and, as Achim points out, do their best with what information they have. But, if local varieties are locally constrained rather that optimally locally adapted, then either non-local varieties and/or better information is needed for farmer decision-making.

    I remember talking to an old lady farming the Kalahari Sands of Western Zimbabwe – that is, farming on the edge. When asked what she most needed she said: “Varieties [of her four staple crops] FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.” Perhaps a wise old lady.

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