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Hybrid rice has particularly good potential to improve the food security of poor countries where arable land is scarce, populations are expanding and labour is cheap

Rice science has made great advances. During past decades increasing demand for rice has been met mainly through yield-enhancing measures of the "Green Revolution" in the 1970s, which introduced improved rice varieties and improved production technologies.

In recent years, effective application of research advances has been slow, especially in areas of physical stresses, such as drought, flooding, salinity and acidity. During the same period, the rice-consuming population has continued to grow, while land and water resources for rice production are diminishing.

Science provides the basis for improving the productivity and efficiency of rice-based systems. Improved technologies enable farmers to grow more rice on limited land with less water, labour and pesticides, thus reducing damage to the environment. In addition, improved plant breeding, weed and pest control, water management, and nutrient-use efficiency increase productivity, reduce the cost, and improve the quality of the products of rice-based production systems. New rice varieties are under development that exhibit enhanced nutritional value, minimize post harvest losses and have increased resistance to drought and pests.

Recent advances in hybrid rice and the new rice for Africa (NERICA) are just two examples of the contributions of science to the development of rice. Furthermore, public and private research institutions have worked together to determine the nucleic acid sequence of the entire rice genome. The resulting DNA database will assist in the creation of a new generation of rice varieties, including – in the not distant future – varieties with improved nutritional qualities. Partnerships between CGIAR centres, National Agricultural Research Systems and the private sector, especially in the area of modern biotechnology, should be strengthened to improve rice quality, productivity and efficiency in rice production.