Sloan Conference Report on South Asian Science Engagement

Page 1


Executive Summary · 6

Conference Participants and Project Team · 7

Introduction · 8

Varietal Development of Rice · 10

Soil Sciences and Crop Management Technologies · 14

Water and Irrigation Technologies for Rice Development · 18

Climate Change and Rice Development · 22

Seed Sciences and Technology · 25

Taking Science Engagement Forward—Roundtable · 29

OVERVIEW The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) organized the inaugural conference on South Asian Science Engagement for regional scientists engaged in research on rice on October 18 and October 19, 2012. The purpose of the conference was to create a platform for exchange of scientific knowledge and facilitate scientists from South Asian countries to participate and contribute to discourses related to science, growth, development, and sustainability. The inaugural conference is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York and managed by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. The inaugural conference on Science Engagement focused on Rice Sciences, looking at how scientists across South Asia are addressing current and future problems surrounding rice production. Contributions from scientists working at this particular intersection on areas such as varietal development, nitrogen management and efficiency, effects of photosynthesis on rice, water and irrigation technologies, and crop management innovations were presented at the conference. The dialogue provided space for candid discussions and knowledge sharing between regional scientists on issues related to the core problem of enhancing rice yields and addressing future challenges for Asia’s most common staple crop. Fifteen scientists from six South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) and China attended the inaugural conference. The following report presents an account of the conference proceedings, culminating in a roundtable session on how participants and organizers could deepen the dialogue and conversation in the near future. Opportunities for collaborative research projects on rice sciences involving participants from two or more countries were also discussed during the two-day conference.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Green Revolution initiated during the 1960s helped the

technology. To develop new rice varieties, scientists are

underdeveloped and developing countries of the world to

deploying molecular breeding, genome sequencing, data

overcome widespread hunger and poverty. Fifty years ago,

data and bio-technological tools. Several innovative crop

around one billion people or roughly half of the population

management technologies and practices are being availed

in those countries starved or didn’t have enough food to

upon. GIS and remote-sensing technologies are being

eat. While the number of people who remain hungry hasn’t

used to map, monitor, and assess potential and total crop

changed much, the Green Revolution has certainly helped

yields. Precision agriculture is being introduced to remedy

to reduce the proportion of hungry people in those coun- low crop productivity due to inept water and soil managetries. Many social, political, and institutional factors con-

ment practices. Scientists are also harnessing geo-infor-

tributed to this change; however, the principal contribution

matic technologies to efficiently manage water resources.

has been the use of science and technology in increasing

Spatial analysis is being vigorously used to enhance crop

agricultural production by expanding cropped area and

productivity. To better confront climate change, scientists

achieving higher crop yields of some of the common sta- are engaged in transforming the genetic pathways in rice ples like wheat, rice, and maize.

by making them more carbon friendly and efficient. Rice

The Green Revolution has been a phenomenal suc- intensification systems are being developed to absorb and cess in increasing production and yields of rice, Asia’s most

thwart anticipated water loss. Cutting-edge seed produc-

common staple crop, since the 1970s due to collaborative

ing technologies that measure seed’s genetic purity are

initiatives involving governments, international founda- also being utilized to mitigate seed losses. tions, and scientific organizations. However, rising popu-

Besides leveraging technology and various cutting-

lation trends, stagnant agricultural yields, and competing

edge innovative tools, effective collective action was also

ecological pressures pose several challenges for the future

identified as critical. We need better institutions and sys-

of rice production in Asia, especially across South Asia.

tems to detect and manage problems, accumulate and

Resource deficits are pervasive. Major inputs in rice cul- allocate resources, help different actors communicate and tivation—land, water, fertilizer, capital, labour, and climate

collaborate with each other and act as safety nets when

patterns—are under duress. Acreage is diminishing across

buffeted by unforeseen threats and challenges. Local com-

the region with land and water resources facing competing

munity systems were identified as important. Village seed

demands due to urbanization and industrialization. Labor

banks are playing a constructive role across the region.

shortages are also intensifying due to rising urban migration.

Also, scientists called for mechanisms that can build link-

Climate change has disrupted the context of cultivation, dra- ages between the public and private sector since private matically affecting seasonal weather patterns and altering

firms are now leading in several areas, notably the devel-

ecological conditions. And these developments are occur- opment of hybrid seed varieties. Equally important are ring at the backdrop of a population increase across South

channels that connect scientists and farmers with poli-

Asia. Thus, current agricultural production will not only have

cymakers. As we head into an era of considerably uncer-

to be sustained, it will have to commensurately rise to feed

tainty and rapid change, lines of communication between

additional mouths with shrinking availability of land, water,

critical stakeholders need to be strengthened such that

fertilizer, and labour whilst facing climate uncertainties.

they are able to collectively mobilize resources and tackle

To meet this grand challenge, scientists and farmers across South Asia are gradually embracing and leveraging


challenges incumbent under the task of raising rice yields across Asia.

CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS AND PROJECT TEAM South Asia and China Prof Zeba Seraj (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) Dr. Zhikang Li (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China) Dr B.C. Viraktamath (Directorate of Rice Research, India) Dr. Hafizur Rahman (Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization, Bangladesh) Dr. Allah Bakhsh (University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan) Dr. Srimathie Indraratne (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) Dr. Shambhu Khatiwada (Nepal Agriculture Research Council, Nepal) Dr. Nimal Gunawardena (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) Dr. Ranjith Premalal De Silva (Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka) Dr. Govinda Rizal (International Rice Research Institute) Dr. Zuhair Hasnain (International Rice Research Institute) Prof V Geethalakshmi (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India) Dr. Ghulam Ahmad Parray (Mountain Research Centre for Field Crops, SKUST, India) Dr. Jwala Bajracharya (Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Nepal) Dr. LV Subba Rao (Directorate of Rice Research, India)

Sloan Foundation Mr. Doron Weber (Vice President (Programs), Sloan Foundation)

National University of Singapore Dr. Naweed Naqvi (Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, NUS/NTU) Prof S.C. Liew (Centre for Remote Imaging Sensing and Processing, NUS) Dr. Dennis Wichelns (Institute of Water Policy, NUS) Dr. Prakash Kumar (Department of Biological Sciences, NUS) Prof Kanti Prasad Bajpai (LKY School of Public Policy, NUS) Prof T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj (LKY School of Public Policy, NUS) Mr. Karthik Nachiappan (LKY School of Public Policy, NUS)

South Asian Science Engagement Project Team T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj, Principal Investigator Karthik Nachiappan, Coordinator

Conference Report Rapporteurs Karthik Nachiappan, Coordinator T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj, Principal Investigator

Conference Report layout : Chris Koh Cover image: Paul Lachine All other images in this report are sourced from IRRI Images, except for the images on pages 9, 12, 29, 30 and 31.


INTRODUCTION Since October 2010 the Alfred P.

to request initial support from the

Sloan Foundation (New York) and

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to set up

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

a South Asian Science Engagement

(National University of Singapore)

and Diplomacy Project. Under the

have been exploring and designing a


novel initiative that aims to convene

included the formulation of a com-




and engage scientists from South

prehensive strategy for the project;

Asian countries and to provide them

identifying and communicating with

a platform for the exchange of ideas

key potential stakeholders; and estab-

on scientific knowledge and collabo-

lishing contact with scientists, engi-

ration on common problems related

neers, economists, and other experts

to food, water, energy, etc. Under the

and practitioners from the region. It

auspices of this initiative, the inaugu-

also involved organizing the inaugu-

ral conference on South Asian Science Engagement took

ral South Asian Science Engagement conference at the Lee

place at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on October

Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

18 and October 19, 2012, bringing together scientists from

The project seeks to cultivate a strong sense of com-

Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri

munity among scientists and engineers from these coun-

Lanka. Focusing thematically on rice science, scientists

tries through the development of a robust peer network

conferred on a series of issues and challenges related to

for scientific dialogue, knowledge and experience sharing

enhancing rice yields across the region. After a day and

and the setting up of joint projects to address common

half of stimulating discussions, the scientists also conveyed

problems affecting their countries. It is envisaged that this

their ideas and insights on areas of possible collaboration,

would lead to greater progress in these and other mutual

regionally or bilaterally, articulated which areas and prob- areas of scientific enquiry and innovation, as well as better lems required further investment and commented on the

management of tensions and conflicts affecting this region.

merits of regional science engagement as a tool to bring

In the longer term, concrete outcomes that would be pur-

science and scientific research to tackle regional problems.

sued may include the emergence of a new model of scien-

This report provides an elaborate account of the inaugural

tists and engineers cooperating across national bounda-

conference on South Asian Science Engagement, discuss-

ries; technical and scientific agreements signed by member

ing the thematic focus and issues discussed, providing a

nations; efforts made by nations to improve their scien-

comprehensive overview of insights and ideas forwarded

tific capacity and infrastructure; and improved relations

by scientists to collectively tackle the food conundrum fac- between scientific establishments and their respective ing Asia.

governments. In terms of potential long-term benefits to the region, outcomes envisaged include joint scientific pro-

Genesis and Concept


jects involving the member nations and their governments;

Following initial conversations with the Alfred P. Sloan

more cooperation across fields; a shared breakthrough that

Foundation’s Vice President of Programs, Mr. Doron Weber,

leads to improvement in economic, health, or environmen-

and his visit to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

tal well-being for member nations; and improved relations

in October 2010, the Lee Kuan Yew School at the National

among the science and technology communities of mem-

University of Singapore (NUS) submitted a concept paper

ber nations.




ject’s focus on South Asia covers Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. More than 20 percent of the world population resides in South Asia, making it one of the most populous and densely populated regions in the world. However, according to a World Bank report in 2007, South Asia is also the least integrated region in the world. The region is also burdened by several problems—political


internal conflicts, and external security threats—that prevent meaningful interaction and dialogue on substantive issues that have a direct bearing on development and growth. In the past, international support for scientific collaboration among South

Mr. Doron Weber (Vice President (Programs), Sloan Foundation)

Asian professionals has been in the area of arms control and non-proliferation due to

56 percent of humanity live, producing and consuming

the unfolding arms race. However, these networks were

more than 90 percent of the world’s rice. The demand for

viewed by governments with deep suspicion and thus

rice is expected to grow faster than production in most

failed to create wider support for such initiatives. By focus- countries. Whether the current level of annual production of ing on scientific issues on non-controversial issues and

524 million tonnes could be increased to 700 million tonnes

matters concerning economic development and growth,

by the year 2025 using less land, less water, less manpower,

with tangible benefits at the national, regional and global

and fewer agrochemicals is the big question. There are

levels, trust can be nurtured in a way that drives innovative

additional difficulties of putting more area under modern

solutions to the region’s most pressing problems. China has

varieties and using more fertilizers to close the yield gap,

been included due to its prominent economic and politi- or bringing in additional areas under rice or under irrigacal role in the region besides its experience with similar

tion. Science and scientific research can make contributions

development challenges related to food, energy and water.

to these myriad problems. This thematic focus was further

Moreover, its rising heft in science and technology epito- broken down into five issue areas that scientists across the mized by the government’s focused and targeted invest-

region are currently working on—Varietal Development

ments in scientific research calls for its inclusion and par- of Rice, Crop Management Technologies and Innovations, ticipation in regional dialogues.

Water and Irrigation Technologies for Rice Development, Climate Change and Rice Development, and Seed Sciences

Conceptual Focus—Rice Sciences

and Systems. Panels were devised around these areas and

Thematically, the inaugural conference focused on rice sci- scientists, whose expertise covered these areas, were shortence. Rice is the life-blood of the Asia-Pacific Region where

listed and invited to present their research.


VARIETAL DEVELOPMENT OF RICE Yields are driven by variability in the natural environment and the challenge is to confront and surmount variability through the development of different rice varieties. And there is ample evidence that considerable progress has been made in managing natural tolerance to both biotic and abiotic stresses, through the development of different rice varieties. Development of efforts to break rice yield ceilings (NPT rice, hybrid rice, scuba rice) need to be geared-up to attain higher yields; and these efforts were highlighted and presented by three scientists— Dr. Zeba Seraj (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), Dr. Zhikang Li (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China) and Dr. B.C. Viraktamath (Directorate of Rice Research, India).


Dr. Zeba Seraj (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka) Dr Zeba Seraj presented on the ‘Use of biotechnological

the Stress-Tolerant Rice in Africa and South Asia (STRASA)

tools for enhancement of rice production in suboptimal


conditions in Bangladesh.’ Her presentation covered the

Many rice landraces, including those from Bangladesh

use of biotechnological tools like DNA marker-assisted

have unique properties for conferring tolerance to biotic,

breeding in the development of submergence tolerant rice

abiotic, as well as to deficient or toxic soils. With the advent

varieties like BRRIdhan 51 and 52. Currently, Bangladesh

of the New Generation Sequencing technology (NGS), there

has a total land area of 14.8 Mha and cultivable area of 9.1

is an international effort to re-sequence some of these lan-

Mha (62 percent), total irrigated land area is 52 percent with

draces. However, downstream activities and capacities

a cropping intensity of 181 percent; the share of agriculture

for accessing useful information from these re-sequenc-

in the GDP is 19.95 percent. With an additional 100 million

ing efforts and their incorporation into crop improvement

to be added to the population, rice production has to nearly

programs are lacking. The latter is true for most countries

double to keep pace. And this means growing rice in hith- in South and South East Asia but more so for Bangladesh. erto fallow areas and increasing cropping intensity. But this, as Dr. Seraj mentioned, is challenging due to

She stated that the importance of such activities cannot be emphasized enough for producing both durable and high

the prevalence of both biotic and abiotic stresses affect- yielding rice varieties. ing rice production, which is likely to be aggravated by the

The discovery of Sub1 and Pstol1 and their use for pro-

effects of climate change. Compounding this scenario is

ducing submergence and drought/phosphorous deficiency

the addition of 1 Mha of flash flood-prone areas and 3.2 Mha

tolerance illustrate that rice landraces possess critically

of rain-fed low-lying areas in Bangladesh, necessitating the

useful traits important for crop improvement programs. It

importance of developing submergence tolerant rice vari- is therefore important to establish a common interactive eties. Dr. Seraj continued by expounding on the develop-

platform for South and South East Asian countries for dep-

ment of three submergence-tolerant rice varieties called

osition and access of information on Rice Biodiversity, DNA

Ciherang-Sub1, Samba-Mahsuri-Sub1 and IR64-Sub1 that

markers linked to useful traits and strategies for incorpo-

are in the pipeline. These varieties are becoming increas-

ration of useful traits for crop improvement. Concurrently,

ingly popular among farmers in the flash flood-prone areas.

common facilities for training manpower in bioinformatics

Additional drought tolerant varieties like BRRIdhan 42, 43,

is necessary for accessing and interacting with sequencing

56 and 57 have also been released; the latter two, released

and re-sequencing information and its proper use for crop

in 2011, are being multiplied and disseminated through



Dr. Zhikang Li (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China) Next, Dr. Zhikang Li presented on

alleles responsible for important

‘Green Super Rice and its Breeding

green traits of rice; and estab-

Technology.’ Dr. Li commenced

lish the material, information, and

by reviewing the state of rice

technological platforms for the

production in China; with less

national rice molecular breeding

than 20 percent of the rice lands,


China now produces nearly 30

In the past, rice breeders at

percent of the global rice. As of now, China consumes 190 million

IRRI used only three recurrent Dr. Zhikang Li

tonnes of rice; estimates suggest

parents for breeding, IR64, Teqing, and IR68552-55-3-2, a new plant

that by 2050, Chinese will consume roughly 230 million

type variety backcrossed with 205 donor parents. But, the

tonnes. And meeting this will be difficult as arable land in

GSR concept, expanded in China under the China National

China has reduced by more than 10 percent over the past

Rice Molecular Breeding Network, uses 46 recurrent par-

20 years. The grand challenge for China is to produce 20

ents. Crosses were made with 503 donors, resulting in a big-

percent more yield with less land and water resources in

ger pool of available genes—each of which has also been

the next 25 years. Furthermore, China also has to undertake

submitted for complete genome re-sequencing to further

this task whilst facing massive yield losses: 20 percent from

strengthen the molecular breeding efforts of the GSR pro-

abiotic stress: drought, low and high temperatures, prob- ject. Instead of focusing on developing one particular variety, lem soils, and 15 percent from biotic stress, including dis- GSR can be customized for various ecosystems. For instance, eases and insects, even with the heavy uses of pesticides.

the Huang-Hua-Zhan (HHZ) is a mega rice variety with high

Leading to tackle this situation, Dr. Li’s team has been

yield potential and superior quality is currently grown in 2

engaged in a significant effort to increase rice yields with

million ha in South and central China and has wide adapta-

less inputs, more production and environmental sustaina- bility, yielding significantly higher than the best local checks) bility, which Chinese scientists have termed as the ‘Second

at testing sites across Asia and Africa. Also, GSR varieties

Green Revolution.’ Specifically, this is being undertaken

can grow rapidly to compete strongly with weeds; weed-

through the development of “Green Super Rice” that can

tolerant GSR varieties have performed well in field trials in

produce high and stable yields with fewer inputs such as

Bangladesh and are now undergoing further testing.

chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and water. Green Super Rice

The GSR project advances the use innovative prac-

or ‘GSR’ refers to high-yielding rice cultivars with multiple

tices such as site-specific nutrient management (SSNM)

green traits that are tolerant to different kinds of stresses:

and integrated crop management (ICM) that enable farm-

environmental, biological and chemical. Under the aus- ers to calibrate nutrient and fertilizer management to


pices of the Green Super Rice (GSR) for the Resource-Poor

local field conditions to produce an optimal supply of rice.

of Africa and Asia, a collaborative project between IRRI

Dr. Li summed up by stating that in the near future, there

and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS),

exists great potential to increase rice yields through GSR

funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the

development by molecular design. With rapid advances

project aims to develop rice varieties that retain their stable,

in the international efforts on rice functional genomic

sustainable yield potential even when grown with fewer

studies, hundreds of genes will be isolated and outlined;

inputs or under unfavorable environmental conditions. The

moreover, sophisticated genomic tools and phenotyping

main objective of the program is to develop highly efficient

platforms are also becoming available or are under devel-

green super hybrid and inbred rice cultivars that produce

opment. These advances will greatly facilitate rice culti-

high and stable yields with less inputs for major target

vation and engender crop breeding that is more specific

environments in Africa, Asia and China; discover genes/

and precise.

Dr. BC. Viraktamath (Directorate of Rice Research, India) Dr. B.C. Viraktamath presented on ‘Hybrid rice in South Asia- hybrid rice network was also established under DRR’s leadProspects and Problems.’ His presentation commenced by

ership to develop and evaluate hybrids and optimize pack-

providing the state and importance of rice to South Asia,

ages for hybrid rice cultivation and seed production. Under

specifically pointing out the low rice productivity across

this network, 1500 hybrid varieties were developed and

the region at 2.71 t/ha, when compared to the global aver- evaluated and 59 were released, with private sector playage which stands at 4.37 t/ha; though South Asia holds

ing an equally important role. Dr. Viraktamath continued by

39 percent of world’s land, they grow 24 percent of the

providing an overview of different hybrid varieties released

world’s rice. But, as Dr. Viraktamath stated, hybrid rice holds

by the public and private sector and briefly considered their

immense promise for the region given rising demographic

strengths in varied environmental conditions. Notably, the

trends, increased demand for rice, declining land, water

Indian private sector is playing a pivotal role in the pro-

and labor, impacts of climate change and the plateauing

duction of hybrid rice seeds; in 2011 alone, they developed

yield trends of high-yield varieties. Consequently, bolster- close to 97 percent of the hybrid seed varieties. ing rice productivity through hybrid varieties is critical. Hybrid rice is produced by cross-pollination using two different varieties or lines such that the resultant F1 prog-

After the overview, Dr. Viraktamath moved to address the innovations taking place in hybrid rice, especially the deployment of molecular tools to enhance breeding effi-

eny is more robust than the parental lines. Hybrid seed pro- ciency. The use of such technologies can assist in the duction or rice heterosis (hybrid vigour) breeding, requires

assessment of genetic purity of rice hybrids and their

two kinds of specific parental lines: a male sterile and a

parental lines, screening of genotypes for different genes,

hybrid combination. Hybrid Rice is produced in two ways:

detecting heterosis, incorporation of biotic stress resist-

three line system and two-line system. Of late, the two- ance in parental lines and the introgression of yield from line system holds more advantages, especially in terms

wild species; more work and attention needs to be given

of simplifying procedures of hybrid seed production and

here. However, major challenges in this particular area exist,

increasing the chances of developing desirable and heter- including the difficulties of obtaining a wide range of grain otic hybrids, where the products are far superior than their

quality, lack of long duration hybrid varieties for coastal

parent sources. In India, a systematic effort was undertaken

and shallow land areas, lack of specific resistance to major

and coordinated by Directorate of Rice Research (DRR)

pests and diseases, moderate seed yields, higher hybrid

with support from ICAR, FAO, UNDP, Barwale Foundation

seed costs and lack of general policy support to articulate

and IRRI, to develop more hybrid rice varieties. A national

these problems to policymakers.


SOIL SCIENCES AND CROP MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES Technical knowledge is critical for raising crop yields across the region. Location specific technologies and solutions empower rice farmers across the region by giving them more accurate information of their physical and geographic environments. This panel covered technologies and innovations being used to this end. The three panelists included— Dr. Hafizur Rahman (Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization, Bangladesh), Dr Allah Bakhsh (University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan)





(University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka).


Dr. Hafizur Rahman (Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO), Bangladesh) Dr.






Integrated Agricultural Monitoring and Crop Information

on temporally dynamic surface cover with greater spatial detail.

System for Food Security Application in Bangladesh:

Dr. Rahman also presented some research and data

Strategies and Application,’ where he explored the efficacy

on spectral profiling and its impact; extraction of spectral

of space-based remote sensing and geo-information tech-

profiles from multi-date images allows for field data to be

nologies to effectively monitor and assess crop potential

collected from several profiling points. Also, we are able

and yield across Bangladesh. In fact, the advantages of an

to better understand vegetation density, chlorophyll con-

integrated RS-GIS decision support system equipped with:

centration, levels of soil moisture and leaf water in areas

comprehensive geospatial data, appropriate algorithm for

where crop is being grown. SPARRSO is currently engaged

monitoring of agricultural crops, flood and cyclone infor- in ground-based observation and measurement of biomation providing network, framework for time series

physical parameters of crops that influence crop yield and

geospatial data analysis, GIS geospatial information data- growth. Through a series of topographical images of sevbase are manifold in assisting farmers raise seasonal crop

eral districts across multiple years, Dr. Rahman demon-

yields since time-frames differ for sowing, harvest and

strated the significance of satellite data to visually isolate

rainfall for different rice varieties. SPARRSO has been regu- which areas and terrains are more suitable for cultivation. larly measuring agricultural crop monitoring and convey- Concluding, he affirmed that space-based remote sensing ing that information to the government, who in turn, pass

and geo-informatics technologies are playing a key role

that to farmers. Satellite data, in this respect, are meas- in enhancing rice yields across Bangladesh. An appropriures of radiation intensity from the surface; information is

ate technical strategy enhances the quality and content of

retrieved mainly by establishing functional relationships

retrieved satellite data but the availability of this data is a

between data and surface parameters. Satellite data, either

major concern due to several technological limitations that

moderate or high resolution, also provides information

need to be addressed.


Dr. Allah Bakhsh (University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan) Dr. Allah Bakhsh presented on ‘Spatial Analysis for “technically feasible, economically viable, environmentally Enhancing Crop Productivity.’ The presentation covered the deployment of spatial analysis to enhance crop productivity in Pakistan. Spatial analysis ‘encompasses all

and socially acceptable.” But, challenges emerge when attempting to apply precision agriculture. Delineation of stable crop yield pat-

methods and techniques employed to reveal spatial pat- terns is needed to deploy agricultural inputs efficiently but terns, trends, and anomalies in view of adjacency, prox-

many studies have reported inconsistent yield patterns.

imity and connectivity for seeking spatial relationships to

Also, interaction of soil hydraulic properties, topographic

establish cause-effect relationship for crop yield variability.’

variables, and soil nutrient potential with climatic factors

Crop yields across Pakistan are affected by low water and

affect crop yields and induces spatio-temporal variability,

land productivity; one way of mitigating this scenario is to

which refer to inconsistencies in soil and climatic varia-

adopt and adapt to different management practices when

bles within a particular crop area. Spatio-temporal varia-

cultivating. Precision agriculture can be used to remedy

bility impedes the implementation of precision agriculture

low crop productivity and boost agricultural production.

due to the onset of asymmetric yield patterns. However,

Traditional agronomic practices apply various agri- Dr. Bakhsh mentioned that adept modeling can help the cultural inputs uniformly at a field scale. Farm fields, how- cause of precision agriculture; modeling can simulate ever, show considerable variation in crop yields, within

impacts of various agricultural management scenarios on

the field scale. Uniform treatment of a field ignores varia- crop yields and soil and water quality. For example, using a tion in soil fertility and may result in zones being under or

computer model, users can estimate the effects of different

over-treated, causing environmental and economic con-

fertilizer application rates on crop yields. Summing up, Dr.

cerns due to inefficient use of agricultural resources. To

Bakhsh confidently asserted that precision agriculture has

address this problem, precision agriculture can be adopted.

the potential to increase the net return of farmers either by

Precision agriculture makes use of inherent spatial varia- increasing crop yields or decreasing input cost by reduc-


bility of the soil properties and applies variable treatments

ing use of fertilizers. But implementation, however, requires

based on the site specific demands and crop requirements.

delineation of crop yield zones where variable rate tech-

Critically, precision agriculture can be adopted only if it is

nologies can be applied.

Dr. Srimathie Indraratne (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) Finally, Dr. Srimathie Indraratne presented on the use of ‘Soil

strategies, improved germplasm, co-application of fertiliz-

Management Strategies to Increase Nitrogen Use Efficiency

ers and organic manures and use of microbial inoculants.

for Rice in Sri Lanka.’ A crop’s potential for productiv- Fertilizer use efficiency traditionally can be measured ity depends on many external factors. Among those fac- either as a recovery efficiency where increase in uptake tors, plant nutrients and water play a significant role. Plant

per unit nutrient added usually expressed as a percentage

nutrition is an integral part of crop management. Among

or as an agronomic efficiency where crop yield increase

the plant nutrients, nitrogen (N) is the most important nutri-

per unit of nutrient added expressed in kg of grain per

ent because of wide application and deficiency shown in

kg of nutrient added. When we look at the actual yields

different soils. According to the classic crop response curve,

obtained from a genetically improved material most South

when a limiting nutrient is added, the yield increases in a

Asian countries are below 50 percent of the expected

crop. But a most profitable fertilizer rate is near the top of the

potential yield. Rice grows in flooded soils and the chem-

yield response curve. When a crop is achieving more than 75

istry is different from upland cultivation. Leaching and

percent of the yield potential to increased nutrient additions,

other gaseous losses of N are the main factor in low N use

economic optimum is approached or achieved. Because of

efficiency in rice. Supplying N fertilizer in several install-

the high variability of the soil properties, this economic opti-

ments rather than as a one dose, use of stabilized fertiliz-

mum could only be achieved by practicing site specific nutri- ers with slow releasing property and incorporation of ferent management strategies accounting for spatial variability.

tilizers with soils are effective in increasing NUE in rice. In

Management factors such as planting date, crop inten- Sri Lanka, in addition to the above mentioned approaches, sity, time of N application and site-specific nutrient man- application of green manure with fertilizers, supply of all agement have direct impact on nutrient use efficiency

nutrients in required quantities and leaf color based N fer-

(NUE) of any crop. Improved germplasm is the foundation

tilizer management increased the agronomic efficiency of

for high yields when matching nutrient supply with the

N This emphasizes that to achieve potential yields from a

demand and supplying sufficient water. Therefore, uni- genetically improved rice variety it is necessary to deploy versal principles of integrated soil fertility management

an agronomic management package to improve fertilizer

for achieving high NUE include nutrient management

use efficiency and the water management.


WATER AND IRRIGATION TECHNOLOGIES FOR RICE DEVELOPMENT To increase rice yields, efficient water and irrigation practices are critical. Adequate water supply is central to rice cultivation and production. In Asia, rice crop suffers either from too little water (drought) or too much of it (flooding, submergence). The major challenge in the coming decade lies in identifying specific situations for the optimum combination of improved technologies and management practices that can raise water productivity at farm, system, and basin levels. Development of on-farm water reservoirs for water harvesting, selection of drought tolerant varieties, land leveling, subsoil compaction, and need based irrigation scheduling may play a major role in increasing water use efficiency and decreasing yield gaps. Three presentations covering the use of water and irrigation technologies were given by Dr. Shambhu Khatiwada (Nepal Agriculture Research Council, Nepal), Dr. Nimal Gunawardena (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) and Dr. Ranjith Premalal De Silva (Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka).


Dr. Shambhu Khatiwada (Nepal Agriculture Research Council, Nepal) Dr. Shambhu Khatiwada commenced by underscoring the

in South Asia project’ under the auspices of joint project

significance of agriculture and rice to Nepal: about two- uniting the International Rice Research Institute and Nepal thirds of the Nepali population is engaged in agriculture con- Agricultural Research Council. Specifically, the project aimed tributing to 35 percent of GDP; agricultural growth stands at

to develop and disseminate water-saving rice varieties that

3.0 percent per annum for a population that continues to

can be sustainably produced across the region. The pro-

grow. Despite this, food deficits prevail, more than 43 dis- ject’s importance rose given the depleting amount of rainfall tricts exist under food deficits and around 10 are deeply vul- that Nepal’s received over the past few years. Distribution of nerable. Rice is the staple food crop and is grown in various

rainfall is also erratic, with 75 percent occurring from June

conditions in Nepal, upland, deepwater, irrigated, lowlands

to September; and dry spells of drought occurs during dif-

and paddy lands. But as we go ahead, gaps in rice yield will

ferent stages of crop cultivation. Dr. Khatiwada continued

only rise due to several constraints—biotic and abiotic stress,

by expanding on the application of different water-saving

low fertilizer use, inadequate seeds, higher cost of cultiva- technologies in different conditions across Nepal. He contion, low market pricing and poor irrigation facilities. To address the irrigation problem, Dr. Khatiwada and his team were engaged in the ‘Water Saving Rice Technologies

cluded by affirming the use and advantages of these innovations in enhancing yield across different environmental settings—upland, lowland or hilly.


Dr. Nimal Gunawardena (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) Dr. Nimal Gunawardena presented next on ‘Irrigation Water

much as 50 percent and seed requirement by 5 times when

Management for Rice in Sri Lanka: Past, Present and Future.’

compared to the conventional system. In this method of

Rice is considered as the highest water user since standing

cultivation, competition among plants is minimized by

water is kept throughout its growing period except during

maintaining an ample and uniform space among plants so

tillering and heading. This practice is used, in the past, to

that individual plant growth is enhanced to its full potential

suppress weeds. Nowadays, the practice of keeping stand- with profuse tillering. Standing water in the field is strictly ing water is becoming problematic as water scarcity rises.

avoided until forty-five days after planting; small amounts

This led scientists to assess the total water requirement of

of water as and when needed to maintain soil moisture is

rice, which also includes evapo-transpiration and percola-

released. Though SRI has several advantages, it requires

tion. In canal irrigation system, this water requirement is

additional labor for manual transplanting, weed control,

sent to farmers’ field through rotational irrigation at regular

and water management.

intervals. The total water requirement of rice crop, there-

Sustaining rice cultivation in view of the impend-

fore, is primarily determined by the length of growing sea- ing water deficits due to lateral demand from other secson and the efficiency of water distribution to farmer’s

tors will be a tall task. Thus, it is important to empower

fields. Cultivation of short age varieties, such as 2 ½ month

farmers and their organizations so that they would be

varieties, can save more water compared to 3-3 ½ and 4-1/4

able to better manage water for rice. Inputs services such

month varieties. Rice breeders have now successfully bred

as machinery, seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, credits,

these short age varieties (2½ months) which provide the

and marketing needs to be in place since failure in any of

same yield as long-age varieties.

these services would indirectly affect water management.

Reducing water losses during distribution is needed

Attempts should be made to identify suitable land for rice

to increase water use efficiency. In addition to establishing

cultivation and then improve productivity so that produc-

sound irrigation systems, such as conveyance canals and

tion levels are maintained with less land and water. Finally,

control structures, strong farmer organizations are a pre- Dr. Gunawardena noted that it is worth exploring possi-


requisite for efficient water management. Over the recent

bilities to restrict rice cultivation to the monsoonal rainy

past, a system of rice intensification (SRI) is being promoted

season in South Asia in view of the impending water crisis

as a rice cultivation system which is said to reduce water as

aggravated by the uncertainties of climate change.

Dr. Ranjith Premalal De Silva (Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka) Prof Ranjith Premalal De Silva gave the final pres- assessment of the Mahaweli River, etc. Geo-informatics entation







can also be used to accomplish specific tasks such as esti-

Water Resources Management: Sri Lankan Experience.’ The

mating crop areas to identify water requirements, mapping

presentation explored the potentials of deploying remote

irrigation infrastructures, using high resolution images to

Sensing, GPS and GIS or “Geo-informatics” technologies

identify areas with great water stress and assessing crop

in water resource management. Water resources and the

damage due to the onset of floods or droughts.

availability of water is greatly influenced by two factors:

For enhancing rice production, geo-informatics can

spatial and temporal variability; spatial variability refers to

be used to estimate location specific demand by modeling

the supply of water at a particular juncture and temporal

socio-economic dynamics, assessing resource availability

variability signifies whether that supply is available across

for cultivation, monitoring crop growth and biomass use,

seasons, wet and dry. Both these factors can be safely

meeting on-site resource needs, and as a tool to forecast

accounted and represented by geo-informatic innovations.

future rice yields through a temporal integration of growth

Geo-informatics encompasses three technologies: Remote Sensing (RS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and

parameters after assessing climate uncertainties. The potential is immense. Dr. De Silva concluded by calling for the need

Geographical Information Systems (GIS). It is also associ- to intensify efforts in using geo-informatics in rice farming ated with the application of tools such as digital multimedia,

through the development of a geo-informatics knowledge

cartography, surveying and web based technologies; such

base for paddy sector, acquisition of high resolution snap-

tools have great promise in the identification, mapping, and

shot base data (IKONOS, QuickBIRD, WorldView) for demar-

management of water resources. Specifically, infrared sat- cation and compilation of data, identification of diversity, ellite images can assist in the identification of surface water

water supply systems, onset of growing season, crop estab-

bodies, inventory of water bodies, reservoir capacity calcu- lishment methods, agronomic practices, seasonal diversity, lation, identifying seasonal fluctuations of water levels. In

varietal differences, obtaining moderate resolution datasets

Sri Lanka, this has been used to assess sedimentation in the

for characterizing each growth stage, the development of

Uda Walawe Reservoir, evaluating the performance of tank

a composite VI from multi-spectral data, and through yield

cascade systems, drought risk assessment in Batticoloa dis-

forecasting and multi seasonal verification and validation as

trict, degradation risk of wetland systems, morphological

a continuous process.


CLIMATE CHANGE AND RICE DEVELOPMENT The next panel considered how rice production can be enhanced given the difficulties we face with respect to climate change. Theoretical models suggest that the yield increases required to match projected demand forecasts can also be achieved by increasing the efficiency with which photosynthesis uses solar energy. Introducing the C4 pathway into the crop grown in irrigated, rain-fed, and deepwater ecosystems could contribute to raising yields in all rice ecosystems. C4 crops have higher yields, reduced water loss and increased nitrogen use efficiency, particularly when grown in hot and dry environments. Three presentations dealing with the issue of rice sciences in an altered climate era were given by Dr Govinda Rizal (International Rice Research Institute), Dr Zuhair Hasnain (International Rice Research Institute) and Prof V Geethalakshmi (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India).


Dr. Govinda Rizal and Dr. Zuhair Hasnain (International Rice Research Institute) Dr. Rizal commenced by introducing C4 Rice, its relation-

plants. But in the case of C4, since it has a very low CO2

ship with C3 Rice, its process and importance and the

compensation point or gamma, it can survive at very low

efforts being undertaken by his team, Consortium on C4

CO2 concentration, yet the growth is limited. However, in

Rice. Echoing Dr. Zhikang Li, Dr. Rizal highlighted the need

the case of C3 plants, due to higher CO2 compensation

to increase actual yield without increasing acreage, with-

points, plants died for those grown at CO2 concentration

out depleting ecosystems, and less fertilizer, water, and

lower than their required amount. This is because the rate

labor. There now exists a huge yield gap between rice yield

of photorespiration is higher than the rate of photosynthe-

potential and farm yield and this can be addressed partly by

sis. The impact of C4 Rice, once released, is tremendous. It

increasing its radiation use efficiency, reducing photorespi- can be cultivated across myriad rice ecosystems, uses far ration and increasing harvest index in the cultivation of rice, or by installing C4 pathway in rice. In rice, yield potential is

less water and has high rates of nitrogen efficiency. Following Dr. Rizal, Dr. Zuhair Hasnain (International

limited by the photosynthetic capacity of leaves; one pos- Rice Research Institute) elaborated further on C4 Rice’s sible solution is to inject a more efficient photosynthetic

advantages and why there exists a clear and urgent need

mechanism, C4 pathway, into rice. While the majority of

to redouble efforts being taken. Given rising populations

plants use C3 photosynthesis, C4 plants have an advantage

trends across the developing world and the need to feed

over C3 under warmer conditions, drought and where fer- billions, C4 presents itself as a cutting-edge solution. After tilizer use is minimal.

this initial introduction, Dr. Hasnain ploughed into the state

To undertake this, the international C4 Rice Consortium

of agriculture and rice in Pakistan, which is by all accounts,

is engaged in a series of activities in four teams: Genetic

an agro-based country; 21 percent of GDP and close to 75

screening, Molecular Physiology, Bioinformatics and sys-

percent of the country’s population is directly or indirectly

tems biology and Molecular Engineering. Through a series

linked with this sector. Rice is the 2nd largest staple food

of graphs and images, Dr. Rizal further detailed how plants

crop and a major source of foreign exchange, accounting

from different CO2 concentrations. Plant growth depends

for a 4.9 percent share in agriculture and 1 percent in GDP.

on CO2 concentrations, which is the same for C3 and C4

Pakistan also exports 14 percent of the world’s rice.


Prof V Geethalakshmi (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India) Finally, Dr. Geethalakshmi presented on ‘Climate Change

and intermittent drought during critical growth phases of

and Agriculture: Experiences of Tamil Nadu, India.’ The

the rice crop might occur due to more extreme conditions

presentation commenced with a brief overview of agri- in future, and as a result, rice crop yield is expected to be culture in the context of climate change. Agriculture is

reduced by 20 percent during mid century and by 40 per-

extremely vulnerable to climate change. Higher temper- cent towards the end of century. Adaptation practices such atures reduce yields of major crops including Rice, while

as selection of varieties tolerant to higher temperatures and

encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Change in pre- water scarcity, altering the sowing window to grow the crops cipitation pattern increase the likelihood of short run crop

in a favorable environment, growing short duration varieties

failures and long run production declines. Increase in sea

that mature in 80—85 days, practicing Integrated Nutrient

level due to rise in temperature results in inundation of

Management (by growing green manure crops/azolla, use

productive agricultural land along the coastal belt leading

of bio-fertilizers, need based application of fertilizers), prac-

to less land available for agriculture. Increased intensity of

tising crop rotation with short duration legume crops for fix-

extreme weather events such as floods, extended droughts,

ing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, growing alternate crops

cyclonic winds, unseasonal rainfall, late onset/early with- such as small millets and change in the cultivation practices


drawal of monsoon, intermittent dry spells also affects the

such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI)/Aerobic Rice

food security of the region.

to increase the water use efficiency help in stabilizing the

Dr. Geethalakshmi further explained these challenges

crop yields under changing climatic conditions. To manage

through a project “Climate Change and Persistent Droughts:

labour scarcities, mechanization is recommended through

Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation strategies for rice

public private partnerships. Also, Dr. Geethalakshmi called

growing regions in the Cauvery River basin of Tamil Nadu.’

for more robust dialogues with farming communities and

Future climate scenarios over the Cauvery basin indicate a

policymakers to brief them of the challenges and opportu-

steady increase in temperature and variation in rainfall pat-

nities accompanying climate change through focus group

tern. Though rainfall is expected to increase, water shortages

sessions and workshops.

SEED SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY The final panel looked at seed sciences and technologies. The use of quality seed is another way of realizing yield potential. High quality pure seed ensures proper germination, crop stands, freedom from weeds and seed borne pests and diseases. It is recognized, in general, that quality seed ensures 10 to 15 percent higher yields whilst applying comparable crop management practices. Three scientists presented on this issue: Dr. Ghulam Ahmad Parray (Mountain Research Centre for Field Crops, SKUST, India); Dr. Jwala Bajracharya (Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Nepal) and Dr. LV Subba Rao (Directorate of Rice Research, India).


Dr. Ghulam Ahmad Parray (Mountain Research Centre for Field Crops, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu, India) Dr. Parray’s presentation began with an overview of the

harvest conditions further debilitating plant growth at

current state of rice production in the Kashmir valley. Rice is

various reproductive stages. Dr. Parray mentioned that a

grown in three distinct zones across the valley: valley basin,

yield loss of 20-30 percent occurs due to harsh climes.

intermediate hill zone and the high altitude region the foot- To limit the damages caused by harsh weather condihills of the valley at a range of approximately 2000-2300

tions and low capacity, research commenced at the Rice

metres above sea level. The valley basin is predominantly

Research Regional Station at Khudwani (1560m/asl) with

used for growing cold varieties of rice with an approximate

the intention of developing high yielding lines to replace

growing period of about 140-145 days. In the intermedi- low-yielding varieties. Currently, research is taking place


ate hill zone, cold varieties are common but less regular

in three areas: identifying cold tolerance varieties across

given capricious weather conditions. And in the foothills,

a range of germplasm, hybridization programme coupling

estimated 120 days are available for crop production and

locally adapted varieties with popular types, by deepening

growth making it a relatively short growing season. Low

research on underlying genetic aspects of cold tolerance

atmospheric temperatures and cold irrigation technologies

alongside improvement of cultivation and management

coupled with insufficient solar radiation limits the potential

techniques. Out of this research, several high yielding,

of this terrain. As a result, despite ample physical space, rice

cold tolerant varieties emerged: K39, Jehlum, Shalimar

productivity is low resulting in a deficit of approximately 6.1

1, K-332, Chenab, Shalimar 2 &3. The SKUST also made

lakh tonnes of rice.

available several varieties of quality seed for cultivation

Constraints pervade across the Kashmir valley. Locals

across the valley. These varieties have made a difference.

face tremendous difficulties in acquiring adequate food

Production has risen and productivity has also gone up

grains from the public distribution system given dis-

from 4 to 6 t/ha. Farmers are now poised to sell surplus

tance and weak institutional linkages. The harsh climate

produce. Despite these strides, more research on genom-

presents several challenges. Geographically, being land

ics is necessary, given the lack of scientific infrastructures

locked does not help. Low air temperatures dampen

in the valley.

Dr. Jwala Bajracharya (Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Nepal) Dr. Jwala Bajracharya gave the next presentation on ‘Seed

farmers. However, in Nepal, the seed system from farmers

sciences and food security in Nepal.’ Like other participants,

to farmers dominates and these seeds are normally of sub-

she commenced with a brief overview of Nepal and its agri- standard seeds and farmers have not been able to achieve cultural outlook. The sector is central in Nepalese econ- the potential of the variety. omy contributing 35 percent to GDP and nearly two third

With these difficulties and limiting factors, collabora-

of labor force (around 65 percent of population) depend

tive approaches of seed production and supply system at

on the sector for their livelihood. The country possesses

the local level—CBSP (Community based seed production),

a wide range of climates, ecosystems and altitudes (low- CSB (Community seed bank), DISSPRO (District seed self land, mid-hills and high-hills), and vegetation from tropical

sufficiency program) and several quality seed supportive

to alpine and each eco-zone is characterized by a different

donor programs were launched and have been found suc-

combination of crop, livestock, population density, infra- cessful in improving seed replacement rate and increasstructures and resources.

ing crop production; these programs have been extended

Seed is the most essential and viable input in agricul- across the country. The conceptual framework of the ture; it is key to increasing agricultural output and produc-

national seed program is based on a seed value chain:

tivity. Success of a farmer’s crop largely depends on the

variety development and maintenance, seed multiplica-

quality of seed. Thus, new crop varieties and quality seeds

tion, seed processing and conditioning, seed marketing,

are critically viable options to improve agricultural produc- and seed use with the vision of key strategies, process and tion in a sustainable way. In Nepal, the concept of quality

inputs towards the development of a seed system in Nepal

control in seed production was initiated in the early 1970s

that can increase crop productivity, enhance income and

along with the introduction of high-yielding rice varieties.

generate employment through self sufficiency, import

Subsequently, major seed components were developed

substitution and export promotion of quality and unique

for agricultural development and an organized national

seeds. Besides these practices, biotechnological tools

seed program emerged, conceived to multiply the seeds of

have been deployed to enhance agricultural production

improved varieties, assure the quality and deliver them to

and productivity.


Dr. LV Subba Rao (Directorate of Rice Research, India) Dr. Rao summed up the session by presenting on the state

Seed and Services Association, Hyderabad which resulted

of seed sciences in India. Early on, he crystallized the surg- in faster spread of the first aromatic rice hybrid PRH-10 in ing food problem the nation faces: it needs to increase food

the country. Effective rice cultivation is fruitful only when

production by 300 million tones to feed estimated popula-

quality seed (with desirable qualities like high germinability,

tion of 1.4 billion by 2030, of which rice alone counts for 156

purity, vigour and health) of the evolved varieties/hybrids is

million tones. The challenge is great. For rice, quality seed

made available in abundant quantities to the farming com-

is the most vital input; seed is also the natural delivery sys-

munity. Dr. Rao called for an effective governance structure

tem for enhancing productivity, profitability and resource

that links public and private entities to enable quality seed

use efficiency. Current techniques available to improve

production to occur.

seed quality revolve around improved germination through seed fortification, seed hardening, and seed priming. Other seed enhancement techniques include: film coating, seed coloring, and seed pelleting. Alternately, to avoid the use of chemicals, seed enhancement can be undertaken through the ‘thermo-seed treatment’ system. Dr Rao moved to consider the process of seed replacement. Despite all available efforts, seed replacement rate stands at roughly 30 percent. Even with hybrids, it has not reached 100 percent which is ideal for maximizing production, especially for self pollinated crops like wheat and rice. To increase seed replacement rates, Dr. Rao suggested few options: increasing farmer awareness on seed replacement techniques, implementing seed village programs, bolstering capacity on seed processing and storage, and adopting participatory seed production programs. Promotion of small-scale seed enterprises and cooperatives is critical. Infrastructural support should be given to strengthen these efforts. Finally, the presentation covered the importance of seed production technologies. Majority of farmers throughout India use their own seed or seed from their peers, which loose genetic purity and vigour year after year, resulting in low productivity. New solutions are required. Appropriate seed agronomy is critical here. Traditional seed producing methods involve detailing study of seeds by mapping its seedling and plant characteristics. But this has some limitations: takes more time, requires large facilities, morphological differences and problems exist. As a result, technologies measuring genetic purity are needed, involving chemical tests, molecular tests and electrophoresis of proteins. In India, this occurred through an effective public-private partnership between IARI, New Delhi and Indian Foundation


TAKING SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT FORWARD—ROUNDTABLE The final session was an open-ended knowledge and experience sharing forum that gathered insights and ideas of all participants on the conference and the concept of science engagement. Each scientist was called to share their views on the concept and to discuss and explore where and how collaboration can occur to the further the cause of regional food security through the intensification of rice production across South Asia. Thoughts and insights are collected as per each issue/panel:

Varietal Development The Phase II of the Green Super Rice project is moving

Dr. Naweed Navqi (Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, NUS/NTU)

ahead where fifteen countries are participating now: scientists are currently working on functional genomics,

Labour Crisis

agronomy, new varieties of development, seed production

Mechanization of agriculture will be an important topic

and release, GIS impacts; it has a wide project canvas, geo- that deserves more attention given burgeoning labour graphically and thematically. There is more scope for col- shortages, especially over the next generation as yields laboration but funding quandaries exist. South Asian coun- have to inexorably rise to meet rising demographic trends. tries are also involved here: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan

Mechanization will become more important given heavy

and India; the two focal countries are Bangladesh and

migration patterns and diminishing acreage. Community

Indonesia. All these countries can nominate candidates for

farming options will be on the rise and small machiner-

the training program in the GSR project. In terms of hybrid

ies will be used more and more. Consequently, site spe-

rice, there exists considerable scope to further collabora- cific innovations and technologies will become critical to tion between South Asian countries.

develop more varieties and attain yield potentials. We also need to start thinking about integrative solutions that are

Knowledge Portal

climate friendly.

A suggestion of using the Rice Knowledge Management Portal based at the DRR India was floated; it would serve

Water and Irrigation Technologies

as a conduit to facilitate knowledge amongst farmers, sci- Water will be a critical constraint in determining producentists, policymakers, etc. A common information portal

tivity of rice; water supply is facing lateral demands from

will also help in the re-sequencing of genomic data. Also,

cultivation of other crops, affecting its availability and use

obtaining genomic data of different molecules will be of

for rice. Thus, increasing water productivity will become

immense help to regional scientists. More attention should

more important, through mechanization and greater use

be given towards the improvement of rice annotation data.

of technology. With respect to water management specifi-

The web portal could also include and underscore crop

cally, we need to be more responsive given volatile climatic

management practices and technologies currently in use.

conditions, also tied to productivity.


Top Row (From left to right) Dr. Allah Bakhsh, Dr. Hafizur Rahman, Prof S.C. Liew, Prof. V Geethalakshmi, Dr. Zuhair Hasnain, Dr. Srimathie Indraratne, Dr. Govinda Rizal, Dr. Shanta Karki, Mr. Karthik Nachiappan, Dr. Naweed Naqvi, Dr. LV Subba Rao, Dr. Prakash Kumar, Dr. Nimal Gunawardena

Geo-informatics and technologies

research being conducted on the state of farmer’s and the

GIS tools can be used for management for rice; though dis- constraints under which they operate. cussions here plainly restricted to remote sensing, similar applications can be used for similar platforms and efforts

Climate Change and Rice

(vis-Ă -vis climate change and resource crunch situations,

Changing climate presents several problems but opportu-

which can be deftly mapped for effective planning). Use of

nities as well. An in-depth understanding of climate change

GIS as forecasting tool is also critical in the case of extreme

and its effects on food is sorely needed. Also, the science-

events, like floods or hurricanes. GIS can be used for food

innovation-policy linkage needs to be strengthened since

distribution as well, given the acute problems afflicting this

issues and problems will need to be addressed and solved

task in South Asia.

through greater collaboration between scientists, poli-

Policy Analysis

become more climate-adaptive. All countries should insti-

Need robust policy analysis to summarize statistics and

tute national drought policies; water policy also central

articulate options for farmers and policymakers. Farm

given its importance in rice development.

cymakers, and farmers. Farmers and scientists have to

organization and institutional arrangements need to get


more attention as socio-economic factors become more

Localized community solutions

important. Price analysis is another critical issue. Research

In some areas, like seeds for example, localized options

also needs to be made more accessible, there is very little

can make a difference. Village seed banks can provide

Bottom Row (From left to right) Dr. Ranjith Premalal De Silva, Prof Zeba Seraj, Dr. Jwala Bajracharya, Dr. Astrid Tuminez, Mr. Doron Weber, Prof T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj, Dr. Zhikang Li, Dr. B.C. Viraktamath, Dr. Ghulam Ahmad Parray, Dr. Shambhu Khatiwada

important contingent options for farmers, especially across

across the region and articulating that to regional

seasons and during tough climate conditions. It is worth

and national policymakers;

investing in building better seed banks and systems to

• Collaborating with upstream and basic rice

facilitate this transfer. Seed quality issues deserve more

research taking place in Singapore (Prakash Kumar

research in South Asia.

and Naweed Naqvi’s NRF-funded project) and this can be done in greenhouses at TLL/NUS where

Areas where immediate action and collaboration is possible

the focus is to develop high yielding rice ready for

• Database/Knowledge Portal: Making information

resistance, abiotic stress tolerance, developmen-

more available and accessible (marker, sequencing

different climate conditions (Disease and Fungal tal enhancements—how we can leverage from

databases). The database should also cover basic

different model systems and germination aspects,

sciences of rice development that will reach the

senescence of flag leaves, etc); and

farmers to maximize impact; • More emphasis on precision agriculture and its

• Future conference topics: Women and Agriculture, Nutrition Security, Precision Agriculture, etc.

applicability in the region (e.g. Digital Agriculture— Gates Foundation initiative); • Policy Analysis—Concept paper that underscores the critical problems plaguing rice production


The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy is an autonomous, professional graduate school of the National University of Singapore. Its mission is to help educate and train the next generation of Asian policymakers and leaders, with the objective of raising the standards of governance throughout the region, improving the lives of its people and, in so doing, contribute to the transformation of Asia. For more details on the LKY School, please visit

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