Developing sustainable rice production systems
IRRI is involved in a project that aims to raise the productivity of flood-prone and salt-affected lowlands in South Asia. A seed business model became part of the project in Nepal where key seed specialists, government officials, private companies, community groups or cooperatives, and others became involved. The target stakeholders of the project are women, farmers, extension staff, and ethnic minority groups. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) also supports another IRRI project that aims to enhance poor rural people's access to improved agricultural technologies especially in stress-prone areas.
In Nepal, the focus is on improving upland rice systems and drought-prone lowlands by doing participatory varietal selection (PVS) activities with farmers and introducing improved crop management options. The latter included modern cultivation practices on rice and maize, integrated disease and pest management, resource conservation technologies, effective use of compost; soil conservation practices, principles and importance of community-based organization, and others. The project also included a seed production component for upland rice farmers and establishment of community seed banks.
IRRI is working with the Regional Agricultural Research Station in Nepal to evaluate promising drought breeding lines and find specific genes with consistent effect on yields under drought. IRRI is also working with multiple partners to develop new hybrid rice varieties, and to generate widely accessible databases on crop improvement for tracking the diffusion of rice varieties. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) supports IRRI in a project where stress-tolerant rice varieties are being developed.