To address the skyrocketing rice prices amid supply constraints, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is building a new facility that will speed up the production of rice varieties. The facility stands on a 587-square-meter area and is expected to house 120,000 plants.
Located at IRRI’s headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines the speed breed facility (SBF) is expected to reduce the growing period for new rice varieties from breeding time up to the time it reaches the farmers. This is to allow rice producers to introduce their products to the market at the fastest time possible.
According to IRRI, it generally takes eight to nine years to develop a new variety using only conventional methods. However, with speed breeding, it will only need two to four years to develop.
In line with the institutes’ commitment to adopt eco-friendly practices, IRRI stated that the SBF would operate on solar power, stating, “It is equipped with an advanced automated irrigation and control system and interconnected chambers to ensure improved reliability, precision, quality, environmental consistency, and water efficiency in the breeding process.”
Prices of rice in Metro Manila have breached 60 PHP per kilogram levels. Earlier, the Marcos administration announced plans to forge an importation deal with India to stabilize prices and boost supply. Currently, India has a ban on exporting rice.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort stated that local prices have increased due to higher input costs from fertilizer, pesticides, petroleum, and the damage sustained by the rice sector from storms. In the Philippines, it takes around three months to plant unhusked rice.
December marks the beginning of the dry planting season and ends in early March. The harvest season runs from February to April or early May. On the other hand, the wet planting season is between June to August, with harvest beginning in late September until early December.
The new IRRI facility is scheduled to be completed in March 2024.