Stories tagged: rice

Rice Nutrition Management Pioneer Dr. Xuhua Zhong Wins IFA Norman Borlaug Award

The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) has awarded crop physiologist Dr. Xuhua Zhong this year’s IFA Norman Borlaug Award for his achievements in rice nutrition management in China.

Dr. Zhong, head of the Crop Physiology and Ecology Laboratory at the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, developed the ‘three controls’ technology. The process incorporates control of nitrogen (N) input, control of unproductive tillers and control of pest and diseases. It is now one of the most widely adopted rice-growing technologies in China and officially recommended to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture.

IFA explained the impact of Dr. Zhong’s work: “With the ‘three controls’ technology, nitrogen recovery efficiency increased from less than 30 percent for farmer’s practice to 40 percent. Farmers can now save on inputs such as fertilizer-N and pesticide sprays and still achieve a 10 percent increase in grain yield, giving extra income to farmers.”

IFA presents the Norman Borlaug Award annually on the birth date of the Father of the Green Revolution. Each year, it recognises research that has led to significant advances in crop nutrition.

The announcement this year comes as influential figures in the fight against global hunger gather in Mexico to celebrate  Dr. Norman Borlaug’s 100th birthday.

Filipino Farmers Given Fertilizer Advice Via Text Message

Rice farmers in the Philippines are being given advice on best fertilizer use through a new text message programme.

The scheme, thought to be a worldwide first, has been launched by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where scientists have spent 18 years refining a computerized system to advise farmers on optimal fertilizer use via their cell phones.  Farmers in the most remote areas can receive fertilizer advice via text message. Launched in the Philippines, where more than 90 percent of the population owns a mobile phone, the technology holds great potential.

The computer tool, called Nutrient Manager for Rice, is based on the site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) approach developed by the IRRI which offers principles for nutrient best management practices. Studies on the SSNM principles have shown them to increase rice yield and profit, increase the efficiency of fertilizer use and reduce the leakage of nutrients to the environment.

Nutrient Manager for Rice is tailored to the rice-growing conditions of a country or region and is user-friendly for extension workers, crop advisors and farmers without any need for soil and plant analyses.

The user dials a toll-free number on their mobile phone, answers a list of 10 to 15 multiple-choice questions about their fields, and then they will receive a text message indicating the amounts, sources and timings of fertilizer application for that specific rice field. The service is automated and delivered in 4 languages that are used in the Philippines, including English.  A demonstration of the service is available on the internet (

Ninety percent of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia. Fertilizers are an important input for producing sufficient supplies of rice to meet increasing demands.

In an interview with Voice of America, IRRI Senior Scientist Roland Buresh said that if the technology is used correctly farmers could yield $100 more per hectare.

IRRI are now working to develop the technology to the needs of rice farmers in South India, Vietnam and West Africa; maize in Bangladesh; and the rice-wheat cropping system in North India.

For more information on this programme, click here to go the IFA’s website.

Improved Rice Cultivation in Cambodia

Being essentially an agrarian country, Cambodia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The main staple food is rice – and rain-fed lowland rice production accounts for more than 80% of the total rice area – but flooding, drought, and pests and disease are increasingly common due to changes in the climate, thus affecting crop yields. In the last five years, rice production loss can occurred mainly due to the occurrence of floods (70%), drought (20%) and pests and disease (10%). This has a great impact on the health of the poor and marginalised groups, most of which are farmers. Their lack of resources reduces their ability to adapt.

In 2008, CamFAD (the Cambodia Farmers’ Association Federation for Agricultural Development) started an initiative to help adapt the sector to climate change impacts. The organisation formulated a new sustainable farming practice called ‘System of Rice Intensification’ (SRI) which helps smallholder farmers increase their yields by following the principle of ‘transplanting young seedlings singly and widely spaced’, a technique that has the advantage of requiring less seeds and minimum irrigation.

CamFAD set up training workshops to promote this practice to farmers that, through a ‘learning-by-doing’ approach, allowed them to witness for themselves the benefits of the practice. Through farmer-to-farmer training, the SRI practice led to a widespread implementation of the new system, which has optimized rice production for smallholder farmers. Today, more than 17,000 farmers in Cambodia are using elements of SRI in their farming.

Green Rice: Climate-Friendly Rice Strains in Thailand

As a response to methane emission from rice production being flagged as part of the global climate debate, Thailand’s agricultural ministry, as reported in the Bangkok Post, has prioritised its research efforts towards developing climate-friendly rice strains.

Prasert Gosalvitra, Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives’ Rice Department said:

We are developing a number of modern rice strains that will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are generated during rice production.

Traditional rice production practices generate large quantities of methane; a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.  The Thai ministry is developing strains of rice with smaller food conducting tissues which will assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions during the photosynthesis process. Additionally, the ministry is researching strains to reduce carbon dioxide during the harvesting process.

Gosalvitra commented that in the future he hopes that this innovation in ‘green-rice’ will help Thai farmers gain access to markets with climate-conscious consumers, notably in the EU.

Post-harvest Losses Demonstrate the Need for Better Storage Techniques

A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam and Cambodia recognized that farmers in the two countries could require two or three times as much rice grain as they consume to meet their food needs because of spoilage from poor storage techniques.

The full article is available here.