ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can Hybrid Rice Technology Help Productivity Growth in Asian Tropics?

The 1990s witnessed a significant deceleration in growth of rice productivity. The productivity potential of the existing modern rice varieties is getting exhausted especially under irrigated environments. This raises a serious concern about Asia's ability to sustain its food security in the 21st century. To find solutions to reverse this trend in irrigated systems, and raise yield levels in rain-fed areas, many public sector R and D institutions across Asia have invested huge public resources to explore new frontiers of rice science. However, many farmers, who grew hybrid rice initially, have started dropping out from hybrid rice cultivation. Can the currently available hybrid rice technology sustain productivity growth in the Asian tropics? Why has it not been possible to replicate in the Asian tropics China's success with hybrid rice? The paper provides a synthesis of major findings of a multi-country evaluation of farmers' experiences with the adoption of hybrid rice varieties.

Hybrid Rice in Bangladesh

The government of Bangladesh permitted four private seed companies to import seeds of rice hybrids for the 1998-99 boro season to make up the shortage of rice seeds after the floods in the 1998 aman (monsoon season rice) season, since there were no locally bred rice hybrids This paper primarily evaluates the farm-level performance of imported rice hybrids, based on representative sample farmers who grew hybrids during the 1999 boro season. The study findings support the view that hybrids were introduced in Bangladesh without a clear deployment strategy and without scientific evaluation of new rice hybrids under farmers' conditions before importing seeds.

Profitability of Hybrid Rice Cultivation

Hybrid rice cultivation has not increased significantly in Karnataka since the introduction of hybrids in the state in the mid-1990s. This study focuses on the profitability aspects of hybrid rice cultivation based on farmers' experiences during the 2000-01 crop year. Hybrid rice was found to be higher yielding but less profitable than existing high-yielding varieties. The paper provides reasons for lower profitability and explains the constraints in hybrid rice expansion based on farm-level data.

Hybrid Rice Cultivation in the Philippines

The development and promotion of hybrid rice is a strategy being pursued by the government to attain self-sufficiency in rice supplies and improve farmers' welfare. On-farm experiments have shown significant yield advantage of hybrid rice over the best-inbred rice varieties. The government launched a special hybrid rice promotion programme during 1999-2000 and has been providing subsidy on seeds as a special incentive to farmers. The private sector, including a Chinese company is also actively involved in research and seed production. But the adoption of hybrid rice is still at a low level. This paper provides some insights into the constraints to expansion of hybrid rice technology.

Hybrid Rice in Tamil Nadu

Nine years after release of the first rice hybrid, its adoption rate in Tamil Nadu was found to be too meagre and scattered to measure its impact. The present study aimed at documenting farm-level insights into why hybrid rice has not made a dent on the rice sector in Tamil Nadu. Results show that there was not much progress made over the past decade in terms of developing farmer-acceptable rice hybrids and achieving the higher yield gains through hybrid rice under farmers' field condition in Tamil Nadu.

Hybrid Rice in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh was the first state in India to develop and release two rice hybrids during the 1993-94 dry seasons. Hybrid rice technology was projected as the harbinger of another rice revolution in the state, as the yield potential of existing varieties was declining. However, the initial experiences of farmers who grew hybrid rice in the state indicated that it was not profitable relative to existing modern varieties. Recently, scientists have claimed that the initial experiences of hybrid rice cultivators are no longer relevant as many new rice hybrids of better quality were developed and marketed by the late 1990s. The current study tests, the widely propagated hypothesis that these new rice hybrids have been accepted by farmers in Andhra Pradesh.

Vietnam's Experience with Hybrid Rice

Vietnam is the only country in the humid tropics in Asia where the rate of hybrid rice adoption has been growing. What are the distinct factors responsible for this unique development in hybrid rice R and D in Vietnam - which has similar agro ecological, political, socio-economic and institutional features as China? Would hybrid rice adoption be sustained in the long run in Vietnam? This paper reviews the development of hybrid rice in the country in the context of the development of the overall rice economy. It reports the findings of a sample farm household survey on the profitability of cultivating hybrid rice over the inbred high-yielding varieties.
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