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UN Project Creates Record-Setting Rice Yields

Egypt: UN Food Agency Project Creates Record-Setting Rice Yields


A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) led project that uses hybrid varieties of rice to increase production has resulted in unprecedented yields of the staple crop in Egypt, the agency said today.

“The world’s highest national average rice yield in 2005 was 9.5 tonnes per hectare from Egypt,” said Mr. Nguu Nguyen, Executive Secretary of the International Rice Commission, at an international scientific conference on sustainable rice production in Krasnodar, Russia.

Hybrid rice varieties developed locally, such as SK 2034 and SK 2046, outperformed the best Egyptian varieties by 20 to 30 per cent, according to the FAO.

The project, aimed at growing more rice with less water and less land, also involved training seed breeders, production personnel, extension workers and farmers.

Despite the project’s success, the FAO warns that hybrid rice seed production is not a global cure-all since many countries lack the technical skills and infrastructure to carry out such programmes.

Those countries could benefit more from improved crop management techniques, such as setting planting dates to expose crops to higher solar radiation, optimizing seeding density, balanced plant nutrition and careful water management, the FAO says.

Rice is the world’s most widely-consumed food – some 618 million tonnes were produced in 2005. With the world’s population growing by more than 70 million a year, the FAO estimates that an extra 153 million tonnes of rice will be needed by 2030.

Ends

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