The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers to test elite rice varieties so as to help the country achieve food self-sufficiency.

According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), next generation (next-gen) rice varieties will help address the world’s most pressing food security challenges.

They have been developed with desirable traits, such as high-yielding ability, disease resistance and tolerance to flood, drought and salinity, the institute said, adding some of them have potential yields ranging from 6 to 12 tonnes per hectares, even in severe conditions.

The next-gen varieties are early-maturing and can be harvested in 114 days, according to the IRRI.

These new varieties were introduced in the Philippines in 2011 but their adoption rate was low, Senior Consultant of the country’s Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Thelma Padolina said.

The department is conducting a national cooperative testing programme to engage farmers in field testing and evaluation of elite rice lines through multi-environment trials.

According to IRRI Senior Associate Scientist Rogelio Cabunagan, it is important for the success of boosting rice production programme that farmers will adopt and plant recommended high-yielding next-gen varieties.-VNA