The United States, Australia, and India have come together to develop climate-resilient varieties of rice and wheat that make up two of the “big three” crops that are imperative to feeding people worldwide. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting a new public-private research partnership between the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and India’s Vibha Agrotech.

With ACPFG’s unique gene technologies that are already in use and Vibha’s field evaluation and rice transformation capabilities, farmers will acquire new rice and wheat varieties that will allow more stable crop production when facing sudden drought and evolving salt-water intrusion. The most successful varieties evaluated will eventually be transferred into the varieties that the farmers already grow.

While the research and crop growth will take place in Australia and India in the preliminary stages, the technologies will eventually be available to developing countries globally. The climate-resilient crops will be most useful in countries where climate change and subsequent stresses impact cereal yields and will help to ensure that farmers will have a good harvest despite these unpredictable climate changes.

The partnership is part of Feed the Future, the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. According to Dr. Julie Howard, USAID’s Chief Scientist in the Bureau for Food Security and Senior Advisor to the Administrator on Agricultural Research, Extension and Education, in order to ensure food security, global food production must increase by 60% by 2050. Unfortunately, climate change is already affecting yields globally. “That means we must use all the tools available to us to grow more food on less land and with less water,” she said.

– Kira Maixner

Source: Business Standard
Photo: Rising Pyramid