Strategies for increasing the yield potential of rice

G.S. Khush

Rice is the most important food crop in the world. Major advances have occurred in rice production as a result of the wide-scale adoption of improved rice varieties. However, demand for rice in low-income countries continues to increase because of increases In the population of rice consumers and improvements in living standards. It is estimated that we will have to produce 50% more rice by 2050. To meet this challenge, we need rice varieties with higher yield potential. Several approaches are being employed for developing rice varieties with increased yield potential, such as population improvement, Ideotype breeding, heterosis breeding, wide hybridization, genetic engineering, and molecular breeding.

Major advances have been made in increasing rice production worldwide as a result of the large-scale adoption of modern high-yielding varieties and improved cultural practices. World rice production increased from 257 million tons in 1966 to 570 million tons in 1997. The present world population of 6 billion is likely to reach 8 billion by 2050. More than 70% of this increase in population will occur in Asia, where rice is the staple food. It is estimated that we will have to produce 50% more rice to satisfy the growing demand for food. This increased demand will have to be met from less land, with less water, less labor, and less chemicals. Thus, the challenge for rice improvement is to develop varieties with higher yield potential, more durable resistance to diseases and insects, and higher levels of tolerance for abiotic stresses.

Several approaches for increasing the yield potential of rice are being used, such as population improvement, ideotype breeding, heterosis breeding, wide hybridization, genetic engineering, and molecular breeding.

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