Climate-Smart Rice the ‘Crop of the Future’
More than half of the world’s population, nearly four billion people, eat rice as their daily staple, but the changing climate is making it tougher for rice farmers to keep their plants alive until harvest.
Now, new, stress-tolerant rice varieties can help make farmers more resilient against the increasingly destructive effects of climate change, says Dr. Matthew Morell, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, IRRI, based in the Philippines.
Drought, flooding and salt intrusion due to sea level rise are among the most difficult conditions for rice farmers brought on by the warming trend.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit, since the late 19th century, and 2016 was the third year in a row that topped the planet’s heat record.
Delivering the Millenium Lecture at the nonprofit M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India on February 10, Morell described climate change-ready rice as “the engine of food security.”