Revitalizing rice diversity in uncertain times
The organization MASIPAG in the Philippines has established a partnership where farmers and researchers collect, improve and grow different varieties of rice. This has enhanced resilience to climate change and other shocks, improved profitability and secured livelihoods.
in more than 60 provinces, focuses on diversity-based farming that promotes local rice varieties with traits such as resilience to flooding and salinization. Farmers are spreading risk and improving their adaptive capacity by protecting the right to general use of genetic resources and the freedom of the smallholders to breed, save and exchange seed. During the Green Revolution, rice growing in the Philippines underwent fundamental changes. From growing hundreds or thousands of different rice varieties most rice farmers switched to growing a few commercial varieties. However, the decline in the old rice varieties and the more chemical intensive agriculture led to a range of new problems. Now MASIPAG are searching high and low for the old varieties in order to re-introduce and develop them to render rice cropping less dependent on chemical pesticides and more tolerant of climate change. To date, more than 2,000 rice varieties have been collected and maintained (600 traditional rice varieties; 1299 MASIPAG rice; and 506 farmer-bred). The collection includes 12 flood tolerant varieties; 18 drought tolerant; 20 saline (saltwater) tolerant; and 24 pests or diseases resistant.