Bayer AG said Monday it plans to introduce a no-till rice program in the Philippines in 2024, offering farmers an alternative farming method that is considered more climate-friendly.
Bayer launched the system in India this year and claims it can help reduce water consumption by up to 40%, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 45% and manual labor costs by up to 50%.
Traditionally, rice farmers first grow seedlings in nurseries and then transplant them into flooded rice fields, which is used today in about 80% of the world’s rice crops. Bayer said its system includes rice hybrids that can be sown directly into the ground.
The Philippines is among the world’s top ten rice producers, but its output remains insufficient to meet domestic demand, while India is the world’s leading exporter of the staple grain.
Bayer made the announcement at the start of a four-day international rice conference organized by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila.
Separately, IRRI said its scientists have identified low and ultra-low glycemic index (GI) genes in rice, which it sees as a breakthrough in efforts to help stem the rise in diabetes worldwide.
Currently, many cultivated rice varieties have a GI that is not considered healthy for people with diabetes, IRRI said.
“IRRI’s latest discovery offers an opportunity to develop low GI and, for the first time, very low GI rice varieties to meet the health needs and nutritional preferences of consumers,” said Dr Nese Sreenivasulu, Head of IRRI’s Cereal Quality and Nutrition Research Unit. .
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