Stories tagged: drought

‘Waterproof Rice’ Could Help Prevent Losses from Flooding

Losses to crops can also come from excess water rather than drought or damage from pests.

In areas prone to flooding, the development of ‘waterproof rice’ could make a dramatic difference.

Scientist at IRRI have identified a gene which allows rice plants to withstand be submerged for two weeks without damage. The gene has already been transferred to a rice variety used in Bangladesh and is showing positive results.

Drought Insurance Programme Reduces Risks for Malawi Smallholder Farmers

An innovative programme launched in 2005 for groundnut farmers in Malawi helps farmers to obtain certified seeds, which produce increased yields and revenues as well as greater resistance to disease.

In addition, the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi, in conjunction with the Insurance Association of Malawi and with technical assistance from the World Bank and Opportunity International Network, financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, has designed an index-based weather insurance contract for these farmers.

If a drought leads to insufficient groundnut production, the bank pays the loans of insured farmers directly. If there is no drought, the farmers benefit from selling the higher-value production.

This is the first time that such index-based weather insurance policies have been sold to smallholder farmers in Africa. A similar pilot in India in 2003 has been expanded to more than 250,000 farmers.

Drought-Tolerant Maize

Drought tolerant crops, such as maize, are better able to withstand drops in water supply and are currently expected to be available within 4-5 years.

The biotechnology industry has been working in partnership with other organisations to ensure stress tolerance traits also reach farmers in developing countries.

For example, Monsanto is partnering with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to develop drought resistant maize. Maize with drought tolerance is expected to perform better than ‘regular’ maize in moderate drought conditions by about 25-30%, which would translate into about 2 millions more tons of food during drought years.

Progress has already been made through conventional breeding of crops such as common beans. Researchers at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have developed a common beans that can withstand drought better.  These have yielded 600 to 750 kg per ha under severe drought conditions, roughly double the yield of common beans in Latin America under the same conditions.