The Daily Star of Dhaka reports today that flood-tolerant rice will soon be officially released in Bangladesh.
The flood-tolerant rice varieties (called Sub1- rice) can help farmers, many who live on less than $1/day, dramatically increase yield during floods.
Dave Mackill of the International Rice Research Institute (formerly of UC Davis) led the precision breeding efforts. The team introduced the Sub1 gene into BR-11 and three other varieties that are popular with farmers and consumers. The new BR-11 Sub1 variety has been embraced by farmers in field trials because it is effectively identical to the conventionally bred BR11 parent. The difference is that BR11-Sub1 can survive two weeks of flooding, whereas the conventionally bred variety will die after three days. Achieving this type of stress tolerance is an important goal of plant breeders.
MA Mazid, former chief of the BRRI Regional Station in Rangpur, told The Daily Star that 65 percent farmers cultivate BR-11 during aman season, which is susceptible to flash floods or rainwater over 10 days. "So the Sub1 varieties now hold the potential to become a good replacement for BR-11."
India released its first submergence-tolerant rice variety in April this year. The Philippines released its variety, called Submarino 1, in July.
Yay! *does a little dance*
In the bigger picture, this makes little difference to the farmer, for all the extra money profited from the harvest will go into buying the seeds in the first place, not to mention increased harvests will reduce the price of commodity, and so, where he used to live on $1/day, the humble bangladeshi farmer now sustains his being with 90 cents/day...
No, increased harvests are not an answer to the poverty in Bangladesh. They aid no-one but the middleman between farmer and consumer.
I dont know the ins and outs of this variety however lets assume that everything you say is exactly correct.
This would mean that in a perfect year - the farmer buying the flood resistant rice would indeed not be better off, with a middleman profiting from the seed purchase.
In a year where a farmer's fields suffer flooding of greater than 3 days and less than 2 weeks - the farmer who utilizes flood resistant rice will make a profit. The farmer who does not - well, they will not make a profit, as to my knowledge dead rice has very little profitability.
Your other arguement against increasing yields due to driving the commodity price is also pretty counter-intuitive and I believe silly unless the suggestion is that Bangladeshi productivity is the sole driver of rice prices - if you take your arguement to its ultimate conclusion then the Bangladeshi farmers should band together and reduce their yields, perhaps by leaving 50% of their cultivatable land barren - if an increase in yield is enough to drive their income down 10c then perhaps this 50% decrease could up incomes 10-50%.
Looking at how the introduction of a more expensive seed with a resistance which increased yields impacted farmers one country over as a comparison - the introduction of Bt cotton in India increased farmer income 30-100% (and possibly beyond, I've lost my reference for now, so will stay 'conservative' with an upper limit of 100%) by increasing yields while utilizing more expensive seeds - unless the cost of the seed is exactly the value of the increased yield (which is an untenable pricing policy in the first place) farmers will always benefit from an increase in yield.
tsk, tsk you have not been doing your homework. Sub1 rice was developed in the PUBLIC sector not the private sector and is distributed through national seed certification centers at NO EXTRA COST to the farmer. Farmer can grow the seed, self it and replant.
And they have.
To Pam Ronald
Um... I think you you misread who that comment was from; your reply makes more sense aimed at Reply#2 (by Husain). I agree with you and Ewan R. I simply expressed my joy at the impending release with a little comment box dance.
Names at the bottom of posts are somewhat confusing =)
With a projected population of 181,428,000 by 2015 according to the UN, Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated nations. Although the annual population growth rate declined to 1.9% as of 1996, the rate is once again on the rise. Tragically, the Bush administration, as a consequence of an evangelical ideology, cut off foreign aid to nations that practiced family planning, like Bangladesh.
Sorry Hinemoana! You are right my comment was directed at Husain