LOS BAÑOS, PHILIPPINES – Members of the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC) gathered at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna, to discuss achievements and plans to improve hybrid rice research and sharing in the following year.

“This year, we were able to develop new populations and parental lines for breeding, new hybrids for testing, and new DNA markers for forward breeding,” said Dr. Jauhar Ali, IRRI senior scientist and HRDC coordinator. “These advances generated more resources and opportunities that enabled HRDC members to develop high-performing varieties.”

Ali also reported the licensing of two hybrid rice varieties, Mestiso 61 and Mestiso 68, to HRDC Gold Member SL Agritech Corp. under the limited exclusivity agreement. Mestiso 30, another new hybrid rice variety, was provided to HRDC Platinum Member Advanta under a non-exclusivity license agreement.

“These agreements are expected to generate benefits not just for HRDC but more importantly, for the smallholder farmers who will use the developed varieties,” Ali said.

One highlight of the two-day meeting was a series of discussions led by IRRI scientists on effective bacterial genomics for effective pathogen monitoring in rice, the potential of direct seeded rice hybrids in maximizing productivity and environmental sustainability in Asia, and the impacts of hybrid rice in the yield and income of smallholder farmers.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Jose Yorobe, Jr, farmers from Pangasinan, Philippines had a 36% increase in net farm income by using hybrids. Compared with inbred varieties, farmers were able to harvest an additional 1.2 tons per hectare.

At the end of the meeting, participants also had a guided tour of HRDC demonstration plots showcasing IRRI’s hybrid rice varieties.

HRDC is organizing two training courses in 2019. These courses will focus on hybrid rice seed production and on hybrid rice technology for executives and policy makers.