PH’s first heat-tolerant rice set for commercial release

Published January 1, 2021, 5:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

After 10 years of research and development, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has obtained the approval of the National Cooperative Test (NCT) for the country’s first high temperature-tolerant rice varieties.

As a result, the varieties, which will be named NSIC Rc 600 and Rc 602, is now up for approval and registration by the National Seed Industry Council for commercialization.

Seeds will be available in two or three planting seasons, PhilRice said.

The rice varieties, according to their lead breeders Norvie L. Manigbas and Nenita V. Desamero, are products of 10 years of breeding in response to the threat of climate change to rice production.

Manigbas, in particular, said studies show that temperature in the country is increasing and high temperature causes sterility in rice.

He added that studies have projected temperature in most parts of the country will be higher than 35 degrees Celsius in the next 25 years, and may reach up to 40 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years.

“When the temperature hits 35 degrees Celsius and above, the fertility of rice plant starts to decrease; thus, the need to develop high temperature-tolerant rice varieties,” Manigbas further said.

To develop the aforementioned heat-tolerant rice varieties, the PhilRice team collaborated with Japan’s National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences.

“The instruments we use such as infrared thermal meter, automatic weather station, all-weather digital camera, automatic soil moisture meter, and Micrometeorological Instrument for the Near Canopy Environment of Rice (MINCER) help us in breeding not only high temperature-tolerant but also drought-tolerant rice varieties,” Manigbas said.

To date, PhilRice has bred 96 inbred and hybrid rice varieties since 1992.

Moving forward, the agency said it will continue to collaborate with other rice stakeholders in the country and other rice-producing countries to develop multiple stress-tolerant rice varieties.