Rice genetic resources have been well exploited by users. There are more than 20 species in the genus, two of which are cultivated by farmers. The crop is grown in environments ranging from rainfed to deep water. Such broad inter- and intra-species variability is used in conventional breeding methods for self-pollinating crops. Users in Latin America are applying population improvement as a means of increasing the methodological scope to exploit the genetic resources better. This publication highlights the latest achievements made by national programmes that have decided to include this approach in their portfolio of breeding choices and discusses how they are handling the methodology to ensure that it produces results for farmers.