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The historic discovery of the semi-dwarfing gene sd1 of De-Geo-Woo-Gen variety in the district of Taichung in Taiwan ROC province of China , revolutionized rice production in the world. Today varieties carrying this gene are cultivated in almost all the tropical rice growing countries. Can one imagine if the world has to pay Taiwan for this gene?

A single accession of Oryza nivara had the requisite gene later named as gsv. Ever since, all the IR varieties starting from IR 28 incorporating this gene were developed and released. IR 64, another variety carrying gsv gene is planted in about 8 million ha.

There is no fair estimate available of the area under gsv gene but a rough guess is that in Asia alone it will be more than million ha. One can very well imagine the production impact of a single freely available gene simply taken from a rice producing area in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh in India. Can one imagine if this gene was patented by a private company? What if the world has to pay for this gene to the community from where the accession carrying this gene was collected?

This trend has been felt by farmers in irrigated rice systems, and reported by Cassman et al. Yield decline may occur when management practices are held constant on intensive irrigated rice systems, owing to changes in soil properties and improper nutrient balance. It also leads to a depletion of soil fertility when inputs do not replenish extracted nutrients.

The need for designing regional programmes of action to enhance and sustain rice production and to attain durable food security and environmental protection in the Asia-Pacific Region was also recommended by an earlier FAO Expert Consultation FAO, It was recommended that different countries should undertake systematic studies on the actual and potential downward yield trends deceleration, stagnation, and decline , quantify these processes and delineate the affected areas as accurately as possible.

The development of more location specific technologies for crop management, Integrated Pest Management, Integrated Nutrient Management, technology transfer to further reduce the yield gap, and manpower development in appropriate areas would have to be handled by NARS. The sharing, testing and utilization of technology and knowledge across national boundaries have to be facilitated by the CGIAR institutions and FAO through various networks supported by them Tran, Under these pressures in China, the rice area declined from 37 million ha in to 31 million ha in A similar trend of negative growth is visible in many countries even over a relatively shorter period from Table 3.

Similarly, the number of rice farmers is also declining fast in most countries. In the Republic of Korea during , the numbers of rice farmers declined by It is estimated that by the year , more than 50 percent of people will live in urban areas compared to 30 percent in Growing urbanization and industrialization will further reduce the agricultural labour, increase the labour wages and farm size, needing more mechanization.

The Green Revolution technologies used in irrigated and favourable rainfed lowlands, which stabilized rice production and reduced prices, are almost exhausted for any further productivity gains Cassman, In fact, a net decline in the irrigated area may be expected if problems of salinization, waterlogging, and intensification-induced degradation of soil is not handled forthwith. It is predicted that quality and quantity of water for agriculture will be reduced. Water will become scarce and costly for agriculture Gleick, and the next war may be fought over water. The water to rice ratio of 5, litres of water to 1 kg of rice has remained unchanged over the last 30 years, yet the availability has declined by 40 to 60 percent in Asia.

In addition industrial and agricultural pollutants have degraded the water quality in most countries. Long-term experiments conducted at IRRI, the Philippines, have indicated that the factor productivity has gone down over the years. At the fixed level of fertilizer, the productivity has been going down, and to get the same yield a higher level of fertilizer has to be added. Cassman and Pingali concluded that decline in the productivity is due to the degradation of the paddy resource base.

Productivity of rice has been declining faster in mono-crop rice areas as well as under rice-wheat rotation Cassman et al. Thus, this problem needs attention soon without any sense of short-term complacency. Saline and alkaline soils cover millions of hectares in several South and South-East Asian countries. Also upland rice cultivation has promoted soil erosion in the fields and clogged irrigation and drainage canals down stream. The over use or improper use of irrigation without drainage encouraged waterlogging, resulting in salinity build-up and other mineral toxicities.

Proper technology backed by policy support and political will is needed for addressing these issues. But its actual use by the rice plant is not more than 30 percent meaning thereby that 70 percent of the applied nitrogen goes either into the air or into the water, endangering the environment and human health. Further research is needed to understand and avert this situation. Related to nitrogen use efficiency is the area of proper use of nitrogenous fertilizer.

Use of the chlorophyll meter and leaf colour chart to improve the congruence of N supply and crop demand is a good tool, for example, to save on fertilizer and optimize factor productivity. However, this knowledge intensive technology has its own hidden costs. Thus, scientists are in a continuous war with ever changing races, pathotypes and biotypes of rice pests.

New and more potent genes, being added continuously using conventional or biotechnological tools, fight a losing battle. But these efforts are essential to add stability to production and avoid the recurrence of the great Bengal famine of the Indian sub-continent, or brown plant hopper catastrophe of Indonesia and the Philippines, or blast and cold damage experienced in the Republic of Korea and Japan during The younger generation is moving away from agriculture in general, and backbreaking rice farming in particular.

The result is that only the old generation is staying with the rice farming, which has manifold implications. This also raises a serious socio-political issue. A stagnant yield frontier and diminishing returns to further intensification are the primary reasons for the reversal in profitability. Contemporaneous changes in market factors - especially land, labour and water - are driving up input prices. Rapid withdrawal of labour from the agricultural sector, diversion of land for other agricultural and non-agricultural purposes, increased competition for water, and withdrawal of subsidies for inputs have contributed to the current situation and may worsen it in the future.

Politically, sound lower rice prices are welcome but who is losing? GATT has increased pressure to liberalize trade and to open up rice markets in the middle and high-income countries. It has also an indirect effect on research priority setting and rice production by introducing a market-oriented decision making process.

The tariff reduction by USA and EU may lead to additional exports of specialty rice and global trade may increase in general. Subsidies at input level by individual countries may reduce production costs marginally. The movement from subsistence to market-oriented rainfed production may bring in additional changes Pingali et al.

Given the long-term impact of GATT on increasing competitiveness among ecosystems, irrigated ecosystem may get 50 percent of the research share. Issues of intensification versus diversification, yield enhancement versus quality improvement, knowledge-intensive technologies versus farmers time, private sector versus public funded research need further investigation and alignment to set research priorities Pingali et al.

Part of the productivity gains that have been laboriously achieved through decades of research and development are simply thrown away after harvest in many cases. In Asia, losses run up to Effective weed control requires knowledge of the names, distribution, ecology, and biology of weeds in the rice-growing regions. One or another form of weed control has been used during the last 10, years De Datta, , but no single weed-control measure gives continuous and best weed control in all the situations. Various weed control methods including complementary practices, hand weeding, mechanical weeding, chemical weeding, biological control, and integrated approaches are available De Datta, As mentioned earlier, these methods need to be fine-tuned for specific regions, ecosystems, cropping systems, and economic groups.

It is worth mentioning also that red or wild rice has become a major problem of rice production in Malaysia, the Central Plain in Thailand and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam where direct seeding has been increasingly practiced. As a result, it has served as a host for a number of diseases and insect-pests, 54 in the temperate zone, and about in tropical countries. Of the major diseases, 45 are fungal, 10 bacterial, 15 viral Ou, , and 75 are insect-pests and nematodes. Realizing the economic losses caused by them, efforts have been directed to understand the genetic basis of resistance and susceptibility.

The studies directed to understand the host-plant interaction in rice have given rise to specialized breeding programs for resistance to diseases and insect-pests. Ten major bacterial diseases have been identified in rice Ou, The major ones causing economic losses in any rice growing country are bacterial blight, bacterial leaf streak, and bacterial sheath rot. Many of the serious rice diseases are caused by fungi. Some of the diseases like blast, sheath blight, brown spot, narrow brown leaf spot, sheath rot and leaf scald are of economic significance in many rice growing countries of the world.

Twelve virus diseases of rice have been identified but the important ones are tungro, grassy stunt, ragged stunt, orange leaf in Asia , hoja blanca America , stripe and dwarf virus in temperate Asia. Brown plant hoppers, stem borers and gall midges are among the major insect-pests in rice production.

But to raise the yield ceiling by breaking the yield barrier set by IR 8, new approaches need to be implemented vigorously. However, the New Plant Type is not yet available to the farmers, and hybrid rice remains the only viable means to increase yield potential in rice at present. The present technology of hybrid rice can increase the yield ceiling by percent compared to the best commercial varieties.

Rice biotechnology, which has recently made considerable progress, may also provide an opportunity to increase the rice yield in a more effective and sustainable manner. The basic architecture of the plant has been redesigned to produce only productive tillers per plant , to optimize the allocation of assimilates to the panicles 0. Reduced tillering is thought to facilitate synchronous flowering, uniform panicle size, and efficient use of horizontal space Janoria, Low-tillering genotypes are reported to have a larger proportion of high-density grains.

A single semi-dominant gene controlled the low tillering trait, and this gene has a pleiotropic effect on culm length, culm thickness, and panicle size. The NPT rice will be amenable to direct seeding and dense planting and, therefore, would increase land productivity significantly. One of the principal limitations is the inability to fill all of the large number of spikelets. Addressing this problem will require further intensive research into the physiology of photosynthesis, source - sink relationships, and translocation of the assimilates to the sink.

Incorporation of better disease and insect-pest resistance and improvement of grain quality would be highly desirable, which are also being currently addressed. The rice area in China Virmani, ; Yuan, under hybrid rice has reached more than 60 percent.

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Countries like India, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines have a strong interest in this direction. The Government of India has set a target of putting 2 million ha under hybrid rice by the year All the rice hybrids grown in India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and most in China are indica hybrids. In the northern part of China, japonica hybrids are under cultivation. Now it is proven beyond doubt that indica x tropical japonica hybrids give higher yields than indica x indica hybrids. It is apparent that the next breakthrough in yield may be set in motion by the use of indica x tropical japonica and indica x NPT rice Virmani, Currently the three-line system of hybrid rice production is being followed.

NARS must re-orient their hybrid rice breeding programmes accordingly. We are only at the beginning of a process that will transform our lives and societies to a much larger extent than all inventions of the last decades. Ownership, property rights, and patenting are terms now linked to living matter, and tools to create them.

No global code of conduct is yet in sight. Biotechnological developments James, are poised to complement and speed up the conventional rice improvement approaches in many areas Khush, , which could have immediate and long term impacts on breaking the yield ceiling, stabilizing the production and making rice nutritionally superior. In summary, the tools of genetic engineering will help to increase and stabilize rice yields under varied situations of its growing, and thereby reducing the yield gap. These tools could be used to introduce superior kinds of plant resistance through wide hybridization, anther culture, marker aided selection, and transformation.

These tools, and tagging of quantitative trait loci would help enhance the yield potential. Rice transformation enables the introduction of single genes that can selectively perturb yield-determining factors. Approaches like differential regulation of a foreign gene in the new host for partitioning sucrose and starch in leaves, the antisense approach as used in potato, and transposable elements Ac and Ds from maize have opened up new vistas in breaking yield barriers Bennett et al.

Identifying the physiological factors causing differences in growth rate among rice genotypes seems fundamental to success in germplasm development for greater yield potential. Increasing the rate of biomass production, increasing the sink size, and decreasing the lodging susceptibility would enhance these efforts Cassman, While the genetic reasons of stability in the performance may be difficult to understand, resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and insensitivity to crop management practices are the major reasons.

There is a need to identify and release stable yielding varieties even on a specific area basis, as against relatively less stable but on a wide area basis. There are strong genotypic differences among varieties for this interaction, providing opportunities for selecting varieties which are more stable across environments and methods are available to estimate these Kang, ; Gauch, Thus, two varieties with similar yield may have different degrees of stability.

During the final selection process, before release, it is possible to select varieties which are more stable and thus giving stable performance even in poorer environments or management regimes. The success story of Bangladesh in becoming a self-sufficient country with stable yield by using Boro rice instead of deepwater rice is a case in point.

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This is a case of matching a technology in its proper perspectives. Thus, efforts in improving the N recovery-efficiency will save quantity and cost, and reduce the cost of rice production. Avenues exist to enhance the recovery further, and also to augment its supply Table 4. Nitrogen is the nutrient that most frequently limits rice production. At current levels of N use efficiency, the rice world will require at least to double the 10 million tonnes of N fertilizer that are annually used for rice production.

Global agriculture relies heavily on N fertilizers derived from petroleum, which in turn, is vulnerable to political and economic fluctuations in the oil market. Rice suffers from a mismatch of its N demand and N supplied as fertilizer, resulting in a percent loss of applied N fertilizer. Two basic approaches may be used to solve this problem. The other is to increase the ability of the rice root system to fix its own N Table 4.

The latter approach is a long-term strategy, but it would have enormous environmental benefits while helping resource-poor farmers. Although N use has increased, still a large number of farmers use very little of it, primarily due to non-availability, lack of cash to buy it, and poor yield response or high risk.

Furthermore, more than half of the applied N is lost due to de-nitrification, ammonia volatilization, leaching and runoff. It is in this context that biologically fixed N assumes importance. Furthermore, farmers more easily adopt a genotype or variety with useful traits than they do with crop and soil management practices that may be associated with additional costs. Table 4. The development of symbiotic N 2 fixation between legumes and Rhizobia is a multi-step process in which genes from both host plant nodulin genes and bacterium nod, nif, exo, lps, and ndv genes play essential roles Khush and Bennett, Small signal molecules pass between the two organisms, activating genes and eliciting developmental responses which culminate in the formation of a cluster of bacterial cells rich in nitrogenase and protected from external O 2 by a complex molecular barrier.

Nodules take sucrose from phloem, convert it to succinate, and through bacterial respiration generate the ATP and reduced ferredoxin required for conversion of N 2 to ammonia. The plant component of the nodule takes up the ammonia and assimilates it into glutamine and asparagine in temperate legumes or into the ureids, allatonic acid and allantoin in tropical legumes. The assimilate is then taken to the rest of the plant via the xylem. The engineering of plants capable of fixing their own nitrogen is an extremely complex task, requiring the coordinated and regulated expression of 16 nif genes; 8 core genes B, E, D, H, M, N, K, V , and 8 housekeeping genes S, T, Q, U, W, X, Y, Z assembled in an appropriate cellular location Dixon et al.

Additional genes to maintain nitrogenase in an active form may also be needed. Dixon et al. Once incorporated, these genes can become part of the seed-based input in rice with high potential of adoption. This becomes more significant when it is realized that every tonne of rice harvested contains about 12 kg N, half of which comes from soil N and biologically fixed N 2. The share of biologically fixed can be increased to suffice the entire need of rice plant. In that case the yield gap due to nitrogen may be reduced a to bare minimum.

Currently, it appears a dream but is reasonable and realizable, as nodule formation is a reality Reddy et al. Recent efforts of IRRI in transferring the nodulating genes to rice roots is an innovative approach which may help rice plant fix atmospheric nitrogen for its own and future use. While this is recognized as a breakthrough using biotechnological tools, future research should be based on the current gains to create a nodulation rice plant in the near future.

Until that is accomplished, the addition of a legume crop either in rice - wheat rotation or in a rice - rice system would be imperative. Soil degradation and quality deterioration limit crop yields in many intensively cultivated farms in Asia. Changes in organic matter and soil nutrient supplying capacity, nutrient imbalance and multi-nutrient deficiency, waterlogging and iron toxicity, soil salinity and alkalinity, and development of hard pans at shallow depths are some of the major indicators of deteriorating soil quality.

A lot of yield gaps can be attributed to knowledge gaps. Techniques Balasubramanian et al.

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Phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc deficiencies in rice production have been increasingly observed in Asia. Therefore, more attention is needed in this direction. A balanced use of fertilizers is equally as important as other issues. Adequate water supply is one of the most important factors in rice production. In Asia, the rice crop suffers either from too little water drought or too much of it flooding, submergence.

Most studies on constraints to high rice yield indicate water as the main factor for yield gaps and yield variability from experiment stations to farms. A recent study conducted by the International Water Management Institute IWMI , estimates that by the year a third of the Asian population will face water shortages. The next wars may be fought over water Gleick, The growth rate in the development of irrigation has already declined Barker et al.

Even the existing irrigation systems are labeled as inefficient based on the irrigation efficiency calculated as the ratio of requirement to the percentage of water used. With the growing scarcity and competition for water there is an increased demand for research to identify potential areas for increasing the productivity of water in rice-based systems. The major challenge for research in the coming decade lies in identifying specific situations for the optimum combination of improved technologies and management practices that can raise water productivity at farm, system, or basin level.

Improved water use at the systems and farm levels are important considerations. Development of on farm water reservoirs for water harvesting, selection of drought tolerant varieties, land leveling, subsoil compaction, and need based irrigation scheduling may play a major role in increasing water use efficiency and decrease yield gaps.

The concept was tested on a limited scale in Indonesia during It is essential, therefore, that crop management practices should not be applied in isolation but be holistically integrated in Integrated Crop Management Packages ICMPs with flexibility for adjustment to fit to prevailing environmental, socio-economic and market factors. The development of ICMPs, which are similar to the Australian Rice Check package, and their transfer could effectively assist farmers in many countries to narrow the yield gaps as well as to reduce rural poverty.

This requires substantial improvement to the system of collection and dissemination of information on rice, its production factors, and its technologies as well as the modification of the extension systems in many countries. Bridging this yield gap offers a very lucrative opportunity to produce additional rice even by using the available technologies. Table 5. To reverse this trend, a strong research base is essential on an area specific basis, rather than on factors cutting across the continents.

It is therefore imperative that through appropriate policies, socio-economic adjustments should be effected in terms of input-output pricing, institutional support, and to redress the needs of rice farmers in order to complement the technological gains. The interests of these producers and rice policy makers are inter-linked. Farmers need adequate amounts of fertilizer at the right time for obtaining high yields in rice cultivation.

The supply of fertilizers needs to be decentralized to village markets and the quality of fertilizers should be assured. Small farmers are usually unable to buy sufficient quantity on time for application; hence, the provision of village credit could greatly help them.

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The Bangladesh Grameen Bank is an interesting example of providing rural credit to landless and resource-poor farmers. The loan proposals are received by the bank only on a group basis at least 5 persons , focusing on technology loan, housing loan, joint loan and general loan Dadhich, The principle of the Grameen bank could be deployed in other developing countries, with some modification for adaptation to local conditions.

The problems of credit and input supply cannot be quickly resolved unless there is strong government intervention. The government and private institutions associated with credit, input and pricing directly influence the adoption and level of the use, and thereby the yield level. The kind of production environment provided by these agencies must be harmonious as any one of these factors is capable of becoming a bottleneck factor.

High quality pure seed ensures proper germination, crop stands, freedom from weeds and seed borne pests and diseases. So far irrigated rice which occupies about 57 percent of the area and produces 76 percent of total rice has helped double the rice production. It will be easier to produce the necessary increases in productivity under irrigated conditions than under rainfed or other ecosystems. The question turns more problematic when we think that production increases have to be realized annually using less land, less people, less water and less pesticides.

There are additional difficulties of putting more area under modern varieties and using more fertilizers for closing the yield gap, or bringing in additional area under rice or under irrigation. The irrigated rice area would be hard to increase as the problems of soil salinity, high cost of development, water scarcity, alternative and competing uses of water, environmental concerns of the emission of green house gases like methane rice fields contribute 20 percent and nitrous oxide fertilizer contributes 19 percent.

The difficulties are further amplified when potential consequences of increased cropping intensity are taken into account. Estimates of the Inter Centre Review instituted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research CGIAR indicate that about 70 percent of additional production will have to come from the irrigated rice ecosystem and almost 21 percent from rainfed lowland. Simultaneously the yield gap would have to be reduced from 48 to 35 percent to produce average yields of about 8. One of the several ways GATT will affect research will be through funding and comparative resource allocation.

With the movement from subsistence to a market-oriented economy, rainfed rice production may bring additional changes in many countries which depend on this ecosystem heavily and have no resources to convert rainfed to irrigated systems Pingali et al. When the UPOV convention initiated a patenting right for the plant varieties and micro-organisms in UPOV, , only a few countries had become signatories. Most of the Asian countries that had not signed had sizeable public research investments for technology generation, which was seen as government support to feed the people. It is generally argued that IPR and patenting will assure returns to research investment by providing product secrecy, and will attract private investment for agricultural research.

Countries taking advantage of this provision to preclude the grants of patents for new plants must, however, provide some alternative means of protection of such plants. In the absence of IPR and patenting, germplasm moved unrestrictedly and made contributions globally Chaudhary, , which can no longer be tolerated. The historic discovery of the semi-dwarfing gene sd1 of De-Geo-Woo-Gen variety in the district of Taichung in Taiwan ROC province of China , revolutionized rice production in the world. Today varieties carrying this gene are cultivated in almost all the tropical rice growing countries.

Can one imagine if the world has to pay Taiwan for this gene? A single accession of Oryza nivara had the requisite gene later named as gsv. Ever since, all the IR varieties starting from IR 28 incorporating this gene were developed and released. IR 64, another variety carrying gsv gene is planted in about 8 million ha. There is no fair estimate available of the area under gsv gene but a rough guess is that in Asia alone it will be more than million ha.

One can very well imagine the production impact of a single freely available gene simply taken from a rice producing area in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh in India. Can one imagine if this gene was patented by a private company? What if the world has to pay for this gene to the community from where the accession carrying this gene was collected? This trend has been felt by farmers in irrigated rice systems, and reported by Cassman et al. Yield decline may occur when management practices are held constant on intensive irrigated rice systems, owing to changes in soil properties and improper nutrient balance.

It also leads to a depletion of soil fertility when inputs do not replenish extracted nutrients. The need for designing regional programmes of action to enhance and sustain rice production and to attain durable food security and environmental protection in the Asia-Pacific Region was also recommended by an earlier FAO Expert Consultation FAO, It was recommended that different countries should undertake systematic studies on the actual and potential downward yield trends deceleration, stagnation, and decline , quantify these processes and delineate the affected areas as accurately as possible.

The development of more location specific technologies for crop management, Integrated Pest Management, Integrated Nutrient Management, technology transfer to further reduce the yield gap, and manpower development in appropriate areas would have to be handled by NARS. The sharing, testing and utilization of technology and knowledge across national boundaries have to be facilitated by the CGIAR institutions and FAO through various networks supported by them Tran, Under these pressures in China, the rice area declined from 37 million ha in to 31 million ha in A similar trend of negative growth is visible in many countries even over a relatively shorter period from Table 3.

Similarly, the number of rice farmers is also declining fast in most countries. In the Republic of Korea during , the numbers of rice farmers declined by It is estimated that by the year , more than 50 percent of people will live in urban areas compared to 30 percent in Growing urbanization and industrialization will further reduce the agricultural labour, increase the labour wages and farm size, needing more mechanization.

The Green Revolution technologies used in irrigated and favourable rainfed lowlands, which stabilized rice production and reduced prices, are almost exhausted for any further productivity gains Cassman, In fact, a net decline in the irrigated area may be expected if problems of salinization, waterlogging, and intensification-induced degradation of soil is not handled forthwith.

It is predicted that quality and quantity of water for agriculture will be reduced. Water will become scarce and costly for agriculture Gleick, and the next war may be fought over water. The water to rice ratio of 5, litres of water to 1 kg of rice has remained unchanged over the last 30 years, yet the availability has declined by 40 to 60 percent in Asia. In addition industrial and agricultural pollutants have degraded the water quality in most countries.

Long-term experiments conducted at IRRI, the Philippines, have indicated that the factor productivity has gone down over the years. At the fixed level of fertilizer, the productivity has been going down, and to get the same yield a higher level of fertilizer has to be added. Cassman and Pingali concluded that decline in the productivity is due to the degradation of the paddy resource base.

Productivity of rice has been declining faster in mono-crop rice areas as well as under rice-wheat rotation Cassman et al. Thus, this problem needs attention soon without any sense of short-term complacency. Saline and alkaline soils cover millions of hectares in several South and South-East Asian countries. Also upland rice cultivation has promoted soil erosion in the fields and clogged irrigation and drainage canals down stream. The over use or improper use of irrigation without drainage encouraged waterlogging, resulting in salinity build-up and other mineral toxicities.

Proper technology backed by policy support and political will is needed for addressing these issues. But its actual use by the rice plant is not more than 30 percent meaning thereby that 70 percent of the applied nitrogen goes either into the air or into the water, endangering the environment and human health. Further research is needed to understand and avert this situation. Related to nitrogen use efficiency is the area of proper use of nitrogenous fertilizer.

Use of the chlorophyll meter and leaf colour chart to improve the congruence of N supply and crop demand is a good tool, for example, to save on fertilizer and optimize factor productivity. However, this knowledge intensive technology has its own hidden costs. Thus, scientists are in a continuous war with ever changing races, pathotypes and biotypes of rice pests. New and more potent genes, being added continuously using conventional or biotechnological tools, fight a losing battle. But these efforts are essential to add stability to production and avoid the recurrence of the great Bengal famine of the Indian sub-continent, or brown plant hopper catastrophe of Indonesia and the Philippines, or blast and cold damage experienced in the Republic of Korea and Japan during The younger generation is moving away from agriculture in general, and backbreaking rice farming in particular.

The result is that only the old generation is staying with the rice farming, which has manifold implications. This also raises a serious socio-political issue. A stagnant yield frontier and diminishing returns to further intensification are the primary reasons for the reversal in profitability. Contemporaneous changes in market factors - especially land, labour and water - are driving up input prices.

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Rapid withdrawal of labour from the agricultural sector, diversion of land for other agricultural and non-agricultural purposes, increased competition for water, and withdrawal of subsidies for inputs have contributed to the current situation and may worsen it in the future. Politically, sound lower rice prices are welcome but who is losing? GATT has increased pressure to liberalize trade and to open up rice markets in the middle and high-income countries.

It has also an indirect effect on research priority setting and rice production by introducing a market-oriented decision making process. The tariff reduction by USA and EU may lead to additional exports of specialty rice and global trade may increase in general. Subsidies at input level by individual countries may reduce production costs marginally.

The movement from subsistence to market-oriented rainfed production may bring in additional changes Pingali et al. Given the long-term impact of GATT on increasing competitiveness among ecosystems, irrigated ecosystem may get 50 percent of the research share. Issues of intensification versus diversification, yield enhancement versus quality improvement, knowledge-intensive technologies versus farmers time, private sector versus public funded research need further investigation and alignment to set research priorities Pingali et al.

Part of the productivity gains that have been laboriously achieved through decades of research and development are simply thrown away after harvest in many cases. In Asia, losses run up to Effective weed control requires knowledge of the names, distribution, ecology, and biology of weeds in the rice-growing regions. One or another form of weed control has been used during the last 10, years De Datta, , but no single weed-control measure gives continuous and best weed control in all the situations.

Various weed control methods including complementary practices, hand weeding, mechanical weeding, chemical weeding, biological control, and integrated approaches are available De Datta, As mentioned earlier, these methods need to be fine-tuned for specific regions, ecosystems, cropping systems, and economic groups. It is worth mentioning also that red or wild rice has become a major problem of rice production in Malaysia, the Central Plain in Thailand and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam where direct seeding has been increasingly practiced.

As a result, it has served as a host for a number of diseases and insect-pests, 54 in the temperate zone, and about in tropical countries. Of the major diseases, 45 are fungal, 10 bacterial, 15 viral Ou, , and 75 are insect-pests and nematodes. Realizing the economic losses caused by them, efforts have been directed to understand the genetic basis of resistance and susceptibility. The studies directed to understand the host-plant interaction in rice have given rise to specialized breeding programs for resistance to diseases and insect-pests. Ten major bacterial diseases have been identified in rice Ou, The major ones causing economic losses in any rice growing country are bacterial blight, bacterial leaf streak, and bacterial sheath rot.

Many of the serious rice diseases are caused by fungi. Some of the diseases like blast, sheath blight, brown spot, narrow brown leaf spot, sheath rot and leaf scald are of economic significance in many rice growing countries of the world. Twelve virus diseases of rice have been identified but the important ones are tungro, grassy stunt, ragged stunt, orange leaf in Asia , hoja blanca America , stripe and dwarf virus in temperate Asia.

Brown plant hoppers, stem borers and gall midges are among the major insect-pests in rice production. But to raise the yield ceiling by breaking the yield barrier set by IR 8, new approaches need to be implemented vigorously. However, the New Plant Type is not yet available to the farmers, and hybrid rice remains the only viable means to increase yield potential in rice at present. The present technology of hybrid rice can increase the yield ceiling by percent compared to the best commercial varieties. Rice biotechnology, which has recently made considerable progress, may also provide an opportunity to increase the rice yield in a more effective and sustainable manner.

The basic architecture of the plant has been redesigned to produce only productive tillers per plant , to optimize the allocation of assimilates to the panicles 0. Reduced tillering is thought to facilitate synchronous flowering, uniform panicle size, and efficient use of horizontal space Janoria, Low-tillering genotypes are reported to have a larger proportion of high-density grains.


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A single semi-dominant gene controlled the low tillering trait, and this gene has a pleiotropic effect on culm length, culm thickness, and panicle size. The NPT rice will be amenable to direct seeding and dense planting and, therefore, would increase land productivity significantly.

One of the principal limitations is the inability to fill all of the large number of spikelets. Addressing this problem will require further intensive research into the physiology of photosynthesis, source - sink relationships, and translocation of the assimilates to the sink. Incorporation of better disease and insect-pest resistance and improvement of grain quality would be highly desirable, which are also being currently addressed.

The rice area in China Virmani, ; Yuan, under hybrid rice has reached more than 60 percent.

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Countries like India, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines have a strong interest in this direction. The Government of India has set a target of putting 2 million ha under hybrid rice by the year All the rice hybrids grown in India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and most in China are indica hybrids. In the northern part of China, japonica hybrids are under cultivation. Now it is proven beyond doubt that indica x tropical japonica hybrids give higher yields than indica x indica hybrids.

It is apparent that the next breakthrough in yield may be set in motion by the use of indica x tropical japonica and indica x NPT rice Virmani, Currently the three-line system of hybrid rice production is being followed. NARS must re-orient their hybrid rice breeding programmes accordingly. We are only at the beginning of a process that will transform our lives and societies to a much larger extent than all inventions of the last decades. Ownership, property rights, and patenting are terms now linked to living matter, and tools to create them.

No global code of conduct is yet in sight. Biotechnological developments James, are poised to complement and speed up the conventional rice improvement approaches in many areas Khush, , which could have immediate and long term impacts on breaking the yield ceiling, stabilizing the production and making rice nutritionally superior. In summary, the tools of genetic engineering will help to increase and stabilize rice yields under varied situations of its growing, and thereby reducing the yield gap.

These tools could be used to introduce superior kinds of plant resistance through wide hybridization, anther culture, marker aided selection, and transformation. These tools, and tagging of quantitative trait loci would help enhance the yield potential. Rice transformation enables the introduction of single genes that can selectively perturb yield-determining factors.

Approaches like differential regulation of a foreign gene in the new host for partitioning sucrose and starch in leaves, the antisense approach as used in potato, and transposable elements Ac and Ds from maize have opened up new vistas in breaking yield barriers Bennett et al.

Identifying the physiological factors causing differences in growth rate among rice genotypes seems fundamental to success in germplasm development for greater yield potential. Increasing the rate of biomass production, increasing the sink size, and decreasing the lodging susceptibility would enhance these efforts Cassman, While the genetic reasons of stability in the performance may be difficult to understand, resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and insensitivity to crop management practices are the major reasons.

There is a need to identify and release stable yielding varieties even on a specific area basis, as against relatively less stable but on a wide area basis. There are strong genotypic differences among varieties for this interaction, providing opportunities for selecting varieties which are more stable across environments and methods are available to estimate these Kang, ; Gauch, Thus, two varieties with similar yield may have different degrees of stability. During the final selection process, before release, it is possible to select varieties which are more stable and thus giving stable performance even in poorer environments or management regimes.

The success story of Bangladesh in becoming a self-sufficient country with stable yield by using Boro rice instead of deepwater rice is a case in point. This is a case of matching a technology in its proper perspectives. Thus, efforts in improving the N recovery-efficiency will save quantity and cost, and reduce the cost of rice production. Avenues exist to enhance the recovery further, and also to augment its supply Table 4. Nitrogen is the nutrient that most frequently limits rice production.

At current levels of N use efficiency, the rice world will require at least to double the 10 million tonnes of N fertilizer that are annually used for rice production. Global agriculture relies heavily on N fertilizers derived from petroleum, which in turn, is vulnerable to political and economic fluctuations in the oil market. Rice suffers from a mismatch of its N demand and N supplied as fertilizer, resulting in a percent loss of applied N fertilizer.

Two basic approaches may be used to solve this problem. The other is to increase the ability of the rice root system to fix its own N Table 4. The latter approach is a long-term strategy, but it would have enormous environmental benefits while helping resource-poor farmers. Although N use has increased, still a large number of farmers use very little of it, primarily due to non-availability, lack of cash to buy it, and poor yield response or high risk.

Furthermore, more than half of the applied N is lost due to de-nitrification, ammonia volatilization, leaching and runoff. It is in this context that biologically fixed N assumes importance. Furthermore, farmers more easily adopt a genotype or variety with useful traits than they do with crop and soil management practices that may be associated with additional costs. Table 4. The development of symbiotic N 2 fixation between legumes and Rhizobia is a multi-step process in which genes from both host plant nodulin genes and bacterium nod, nif, exo, lps, and ndv genes play essential roles Khush and Bennett, Small signal molecules pass between the two organisms, activating genes and eliciting developmental responses which culminate in the formation of a cluster of bacterial cells rich in nitrogenase and protected from external O 2 by a complex molecular barrier.

Nodules take sucrose from phloem, convert it to succinate, and through bacterial respiration generate the ATP and reduced ferredoxin required for conversion of N 2 to ammonia. The plant component of the nodule takes up the ammonia and assimilates it into glutamine and asparagine in temperate legumes or into the ureids, allatonic acid and allantoin in tropical legumes.

The assimilate is then taken to the rest of the plant via the xylem. The engineering of plants capable of fixing their own nitrogen is an extremely complex task, requiring the coordinated and regulated expression of 16 nif genes; 8 core genes B, E, D, H, M, N, K, V , and 8 housekeeping genes S, T, Q, U, W, X, Y, Z assembled in an appropriate cellular location Dixon et al.

Additional genes to maintain nitrogenase in an active form may also be needed. Dixon et al. Once incorporated, these genes can become part of the seed-based input in rice with high potential of adoption. This becomes more significant when it is realized that every tonne of rice harvested contains about 12 kg N, half of which comes from soil N and biologically fixed N 2. The share of biologically fixed can be increased to suffice the entire need of rice plant.

In that case the yield gap due to nitrogen may be reduced a to bare minimum. Currently, it appears a dream but is reasonable and realizable, as nodule formation is a reality Reddy et al. Recent efforts of IRRI in transferring the nodulating genes to rice roots is an innovative approach which may help rice plant fix atmospheric nitrogen for its own and future use. While this is recognized as a breakthrough using biotechnological tools, future research should be based on the current gains to create a nodulation rice plant in the near future.

Until that is accomplished, the addition of a legume crop either in rice - wheat rotation or in a rice - rice system would be imperative. Soil degradation and quality deterioration limit crop yields in many intensively cultivated farms in Asia.

Changes in organic matter and soil nutrient supplying capacity, nutrient imbalance and multi-nutrient deficiency, waterlogging and iron toxicity, soil salinity and alkalinity, and development of hard pans at shallow depths are some of the major indicators of deteriorating soil quality. A lot of yield gaps can be attributed to knowledge gaps. Techniques Balasubramanian et al. Phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc deficiencies in rice production have been increasingly observed in Asia. Therefore, more attention is needed in this direction. A balanced use of fertilizers is equally as important as other issues.

Adequate water supply is one of the most important factors in rice production. In Asia, the rice crop suffers either from too little water drought or too much of it flooding, submergence. Most studies on constraints to high rice yield indicate water as the main factor for yield gaps and yield variability from experiment stations to farms.

A recent study conducted by the International Water Management Institute IWMI , estimates that by the year a third of the Asian population will face water shortages. The next wars may be fought over water Gleick, The growth rate in the development of irrigation has already declined Barker et al.

Even the existing irrigation systems are labeled as inefficient based on the irrigation efficiency calculated as the ratio of requirement to the percentage of water used. With the growing scarcity and competition for water there is an increased demand for research to identify potential areas for increasing the productivity of water in rice-based systems. The major challenge for research in the coming decade lies in identifying specific situations for the optimum combination of improved technologies and management practices that can raise water productivity at farm, system, or basin level.

Improved water use at the systems and farm levels are important considerations. Development of on farm water reservoirs for water harvesting, selection of drought tolerant varieties, land leveling, subsoil compaction, and need based irrigation scheduling may play a major role in increasing water use efficiency and decrease yield gaps. The concept was tested on a limited scale in Indonesia during It is essential, therefore, that crop management practices should not be applied in isolation but be holistically integrated in Integrated Crop Management Packages ICMPs with flexibility for adjustment to fit to prevailing environmental, socio-economic and market factors.

The development of ICMPs, which are similar to the Australian Rice Check package, and their transfer could effectively assist farmers in many countries to narrow the yield gaps as well as to reduce rural poverty. This requires substantial improvement to the system of collection and dissemination of information on rice, its production factors, and its technologies as well as the modification of the extension systems in many countries.