New variety of rice being studied

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GRDB Deputy General Manager, Allison Peters

— GRDB working to introduce rice/wheat flour

SOME 3,000 breeding lines are currently being studied seasonally at the Burma Rice Research Station, the research arm of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, during the first crop, over 17,522 bags of seed paddy were produced at the facility.

The varieties planted included GRDB 10, GRDB 15 and G98-196 among others.

The GRDB 15, a long-grain variety which was released in 2018, continues to receive good reviews from farmers, and has been described as ‘excellent’ in field conditions.

It accounts for some 20 per cent of paddy cultivation during the first-crop.

The research station, as the authority, works to ensure that farmers have access to quality seed lines which can withstand the changing climatic conditions, and at the same time improve yields.

GRDB Deputy General Manager, Allison Peters said the research station currently has 16 promising new breeding lines being observed in field conditions in all rice- growing regions.

She explained that this is being done in replicated yield trials to ascertain its superiority over the existing varieties. In addition to these trials, the researchers are also working on another 99 promising breeding lines.

Further, she said that 14 aromatic breeding lines are currently in the advance stage of testing. The GRDB) hopes to be able to release a new aromatic variety from these trials to farmers.

For 2019, Peters said the Board plans to produce approximately 100 tonnes of basic seed, which will be multiplied within the industry by seed growers, along with the other certified seeds produced at the station.

The deputy general manager hinted at the Board’s plan to have a candidate variety identified by the end of the second crop this year.

Once identified, she said, the candidate variety will be tested in farmers’ fields countrywide for a period of at least two crops, so as to determine its ability to be released as a new variety.

RELEASE

Once successful, the new variety will be ready to be officially released by the end of 2021 or the first crop of 2022.

The Board is also working with international institutes such as the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and has sourced some 300 new rice germplasm lines which will be used in its multiplication programme.

This year, the Board will also be looking at over 100 crosses of breeding lines which possess the ability for high-grain yields, aroma, salt tolerance and other improved quality traits.

“The Board continues to offer high-quality seeds to farmers to assist in quality production of paddy in farmers’ fields. We have heard the farmers’ pleas for high-quality seeds, and are continuously working on improving the quality of our seeds,” Peters said.

The deputy general manager said that over the years, the Board has been looking at ways to improve services through the strengthening of its research arm.

She said that the introduction of new lines, which are flood, drought and salt-tolerant, and the resources/advice required for dealing with existing and emerging pests and diseases are high on the rice station’s agenda.

This year, she said, work will commence with the assistance of MARDI (Malaysian Rice Development Institute) to introduce three new varieties, catering especially to salt tolerance, higher yields and a new aromatic variety for farmers.

It must be noted that some 15 varieties of paddy were released by the GRDB during the period 1997 and 2018.These varieties have resulted in significant increase in productivity over the last decade, moving production from 3.8 tonnes per hectare (equivalent to 24 bags per acres) in 2000, to 5.8 tonnes (which amounts to 37 bags per acre ) in 2018. With the introduction of the new lines, it is expected that farmers will be able to receive higher yields.

Additionally, it was noted that the GRDB is also working on the development of value-added products such as blended rice/wheat flour, the introduction of new management techniques for the management of red rice, and new insecticides to ensure pest and weed control.