The world’s largest rice collection has received permanent funding that will ensure the numerous different rice varieties are saved forever.
The agreement between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Crop Trust, was signed on World Food Day. The funds will guarantee continued conservation and sharing of 136,000 varieties of the staple crop, that feeds more than three billion people worldwide.
“This is fantastic news for the future of rice research,” said Matthew Morell, Director General of IRRI. “Half of the world’s population—around 3.5 billion people—eat rice every day and the IRRI genebank is fundamental to global efforts to make the rice sector more resilient, sustainable and equitable.
The Crop Trust funding enables IRRI to focus on using its large and diverse rice collection to benefit the world.”
The IRRI genebank is one of 11 genebanks of CGIAR, which conserve millions of crop seeds, distributing more than 100,000 samples to researchers and farmers around the world every year.
Scientists at IRRI have used stored rice samples to develop rice breakthroughs tailored to climate extremes like drought and flooding.
One major innovation will benefit farmers tending rice lands across Asia regularly hit by flooding. Most rice dies within days of submergence under water, but “scuba rice” withstands flooding for up to two weeks. Researchers are now adapting the rice for Africa.