The massive benefits of global rice research

The CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership, recently announced a milestone in the fight against poverty through food security.

With an increase in funding from US$500 million in 2008 to US$1 billion in 2013, donors have demonstrated confidence in CGIAR's ability to fight hunger, enhance nutrition, and improve the lives of billions around the world. The US$1 billion in funding will help finance CGIAR's 16 global research programs, one of which is the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), the CGIAR Research Program for Rice. Since its launch in December 2010, GRiSP has been steadily delivering significant results.

Southeast Asian rice farmers are already harvesting an additional US$1.46 billion worth of rice a year as a result of global rice breeding and innovations that help them manage their crops better. In the same region, there is a demonstrated 25-43% return on investment upon delivery of improved rice management technologies. New water management technologies can reduce the use of precious irrigation water by 10-30% while reducing methane emissions by 35-75%.

Moreover, farmers are becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change by growing drought-, flood-, heat-, and salt-tolerant rice varieties. For example, in South Asia alone, more than 4 million farmers are already using flood-tolerant varieties. And, recently published research suggests that those who suffer most from societal neglect and climate change are benefiting from this technology. These are but a few of GRiSP's many accomplishments for over the last 3 years.

"GRiSP represents—for the first time ever—a single strategic blueprint for rice research on a global scale," says Bas Bouman, GRiSP director. "It will extend the positive impact of rice research in ways we only dreamed of just a few years ago." Around 3.5 billion people—half of the world's population—depend on rice as a food staple and source of livelihood.

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