Thailand creates a new flood-resistant strain of rice

Thailand’s new penchant for innovation is benefitting one of its oldest strengths as researchers announced that they have developed a new strain of rice that can survive floods and resist certain pests, features that can contribute to global food security. Thailand is one of the world’s largest rice exporters.

The new strain of rice named Hom Le Noi rice, “can withstand a flood. It is non-photoperiod sensitive, which allows the plant to grow in all climates,” said Theerayut Tuchinda, Acting Deputy Director of BIOTEC and chief of the research team.

Theerayut also added that Hom Le Noi can resist bacterial leaf blight, a disease that turns leaves yellow, and the brown planthopper, an invasive species that feeds on rice plants. The team has been developing the rice strain since 2013, using a technique called DNA Markers Assisted Breeding.

Thailand produces some of the world’s most highly regarded varieties of rice. Its “Hom Mali,” or jasmine fragrant rice, has won awards for the world’s best rice several times, and the Kingdom’s grade B white rice is used by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as the benchmark for global rice prices.

With climate change causing more extreme weather, including more frequent and worsening floods, biologists and agricultural scientists are racing to develop and engineer new varieties and strains of plants and crops that serve as staples in human diets.

Their success will be essential to maintaining food security and preventing shortages, famine and starvation, which could also lead to migration and civil conflicts.

The developers received support from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Agricultural Technology and Innovation Management Institute, the Department of Rice, and the Agricultural Research Development Agency.

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