‘Designer rice’ or genetically-modified rice variety, is going to be the answer for food security and will help in increasing rice production in the coming years.
Robert S Zeigler, director-general, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said, “Rice has been the most-favoured crop species since the last 35 years. By 2050, the demand for rice production is expected to be 70 per cent higher than the current demand. In this context, designer rice will play a greater role in meeting this demand.”
Now, the agricultural sector is facing with multiple challenges, including decline in water levels, global warming and population growth globally. Around 10 per cent loss in production is happening with the rise in temperature by one degree. The fresh water availability is going down by 40 per cent as well as the per capita water consumption. Also, we have not exploited the potential of the existing high-yield varieties, the experts said.
“Currently, there is a huge gap. For example, in India, we have used only 50 per cent of the actual potential of 10 tonne per hectare. If we will harvest the total potential, we can sustain for the next 20 years. After that, it might create a problem,” said EA Siddiq, scientist at Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, at the two-day international seminar, which kicked off at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (Icrisat) on Monday.
“Paddy cultivation consumes a lot of water. To produce one kg of rice, 3,500-4,500 litre of water is required. The major question here is to make it sustainable and viable for both consumers and the farmers by not increasing the cost of production. So, agricultural scientists around the world have now started exploring possibilities to generate new varieties of rice using science-led innovations keeping the nutritional values intact, which will ensure food security for the global population by 2050,” Siddiq said.
‘Designer rice’ is the rice yielded from genetically-engineered plants. It can be a possibility for the future generations and various research is going on to produce the designer rice. It is developed by modifying the DNA level for desired phenotypic character, using biotechnological tools like genetic transformation, mutagenesis, marker assisted breeding and metabolic engineering.
“Within the designer rice category, emphasis is now on the irrigation varieties,” Siddiq said.