Scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have initiated a project aiming to develop new rice varieties more resistant to climate change, and will strengthen the crop in Latin American countries, El Tiempo newspaper reported on Monday.
CIAT, which has its primary offices in Colombia, plans to develop the new type of rice to reduce water use and overall costs in Colombia, as well as developing Caribbean countries, in an attempt to strengthen the economic sustainability of the crop.
A total of 215 municipalities across Colombia depend on the 1,082,321.5 acres of rice planted throughout the country.
According to Patricia Guzman, technical deputy general of Fedearroz, one of the partners in this research project,”We plant between 1,037,842.6 and 1,111,974.2 acres per year and produce between 2.0 and 2.4 million tons annually. Five years ago we produced 6.2 tons per hectare, now 5.3, we dropped a ton in less than five years.”
The bilateral research between Colombia and Japan is funded by the Alliance for Research in Science and Technology for Sustainable Development (SATREPS), which s a collaboration between two Japanese government agencies: the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Increased demand for the crop
The consumption of rice per capita is between 88-92.4 pounds in Colombia while on the coastal areas of the country the consumption can reach up to as much as 154 pounds per capita, a figure which experts forecast rice consumption to rise.
Scheduled to be initiated this month, the project is scheduled to last five years, according to SATREPS website.
According to Gustavo Aldana from Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture, “It works initially in [the Colombian city of] Ibague, but we cover the whole area of production in Colombia . We do not want the investigation to remain stored, in this case we want to reach the producers, seek to increase production, potentiate producers and make them more competitive.”
The research is focused on precision agriculture and includes four components. It seeks to development new varieties with high efficiency in water use and nutrients obtained through molecular technologies, efficient crop and soil management, efficient use of water and extension of water basins, as well as transfer and adoption of technologies, El Tiempo reports.
“Our goal is to benefit the producers of Colombia, increase production used mainly for food security. Another important part is the human resource, the information exchange, the technology between students and teachers, it is essential for the future and the development of Colombia,” said Hidemitsu Sakurai, JICA’s representative of Colombia.
The project will take place in Colombia’s central state of Tolima and country’s Eastern plains region. Once the technology is functional will expand to other countries on the continent.