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Potential Impact of Biotechnology on Adaption of Agriculture to Climate Change: The Case of Drought Tolerant Rice Breeding in Asia

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  • Carl Pray

    (Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 55 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA)

  • Latha Nagarajan

    (Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 55 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA)

  • Luping Li

    (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Jia 11, Datun Road, Anwai, Beijing 100101, China)

  • Jikun Huang

    (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Jia 11, Datun Road, Anwai, Beijing 100101, China)

  • Ruifa Hu

    (Department of Economics and Management, Beijing Institute of Technology, 5 South Zhongguancun Street, Beijing 100081, China)

  • K.N. Selvaraj

    (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641003, India)

  • Ora Napasintuwong

    (Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand)

  • R. Chandra Babu

    (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641003, India)

Abstract

In Asia and Africa the poor tend to live in marginal environments where droughts and floods are frequent. Global warming is expected to increase the frequency of these weather-induced perturbations of crop production. Drought tolerance (DT) has been one of the most difficult traits to improve in genetic crop improvement programs worldwide. Biotechnology provides breeders with a number of new tools that may help to develop more drought tolerant varieties such as marker assisted selection (MAS), molecular breeding (MB), and transgenic plants. This paper assesses some preliminary evidence on the potential impact of biotechnology using data from surveys of the initial DT cultivars developed through one of the main programs in Asia that has been funding DT rice breeding since 1998—The Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Crops for Water-Limited Environments program in China, India, and Thailand. Yield increases of DT rice varieties are 5 to 10 percent better than conventional varieties or currently grown commercial varieties than it has been in years. So far we only have experiment station evidence that DT varieties yielded better than conventional or improved varieties during moderate drought years (the one drought year during our study period in South India gave inconclusive results) and in severe drought both the DT and the conventional varieties were either not planted or, if planted, did not yield. We find that the governments could help overcome some of the constraints to the spread of DT cultivars by increasing government funding of DT research programs that take advantage of new biotech techniques and new knowledge from genomics. Secondly, public scientists can make breeding lines with DT traits and molecular markers more easily available to the private seed firms so that they can incorporate DT traits into their commercial hybrids particularly for poor areas. Third, governments can subsidize private sector production of DT seed or provide more government money for state extension services to produce DT varieties.

Suggested Citation

  • Carl Pray & Latha Nagarajan & Luping Li & Jikun Huang & Ruifa Hu & K.N. Selvaraj & Ora Napasintuwong & R. Chandra Babu, 2011. "Potential Impact of Biotechnology on Adaption of Agriculture to Climate Change: The Case of Drought Tolerant Rice Breeding in Asia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(10), pages 1-19, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:10:p:1723-1741:d:14221
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Genti Kostandini & Bradford F. Mills & Steven Were Omamo & Stanley Wood, 2009. "Ex ante analysis of the benefits of transgenic drought tolerance research on cereal crops in low‐income countries," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(4), pages 477-492, July.
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    1. Li, Luping & Huang, Jikun & Hu, Ruifa & Pray, Carl E., 2012. "Can drought-tolerant varieties produce more food with less water? An empirical analysis of rice farming in China," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126745, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Jikun Huang, 2013. "Financing Sustainable Agriculture Under Climate Change with a Specific Focus on Foreign Aid," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2013-047, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. P. K. Viswanathan & K. Kavya & Chandra Sekhar Bahinipati, 2020. "Global Patterns of Climate-resilient Agriculture: A Review of Studies and Imperatives for Empirical Research in India," Review of Development and Change, , vol. 25(2), pages 169-192, December.
    4. Huang, Jikun, 2013. "Financing Sustainable Agriculture Under Climate Change with a Specific Focus on Foreign Aid," WIDER Working Paper Series 047, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Arora, Anchal & Bansal, Sangeeta & Ward, Patrick S., 2015. "Eliciting farmers’ valuation for abiotic stress-tolerant rice in India:," IFPRI discussion papers 1409, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Netrananda Sahu & Atul Saini & Swadhin Behera & Takahiro Sayama & Sridhara Nayak & Limonlisa Sahu & Weili Duan & Ram Avtar & Masafumi Yamada & R. B. Singh & Kaoru Takara, 2020. "Impact of Indo-Pacific Climate Variability on Rice Productivity in Bihar, India," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(17), pages 1-21, August.
    7. Pratap S. Birthal & Jaweriah Hazrana & Digvijay S. Negi, 2019. "A multilevel analysis of drought risk in Indian agriculture: implications for managing risk at different geographical levels," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 499-513, December.
    8. Birthal, Pratap S. & Negi, Digvijay S. & Khan, Md. Tajuddin & Agarwal, Shaily, 2015. "Is Indian agriculture becoming resilient to droughts? Evidence from rice production systems," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-12.
    9. Birthal, Pratap S., 2013. "Application of Frontier Technologies for Agricultural Development," Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, vol. 68(1), pages 1-19.
    10. Birthal, P.S. & Khan, T.M. & Negi, D.S. & Agarwal, S., 2014. "Impact of Climate Change on Yields of Major Food Crops in India: Implications for Food Security," Agricultural Economics Research Review, Agricultural Economics Research Association (India), vol. 27(2).

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