Speedy evolution and extensive adoption of progressively improved varieties/hybrids in the last four decades would not have been possible but for the well organized institutional mechanism for accessing needed genetic variability, tools and techniques for generating breeding material and systems for reliable and rapid evaluation of them and production and supply of quality seed. Establishment of the IRC in 1949 under the FAO framework was the first global initiative for promotion of rice research and development. Since its inception it has been engaged in various rice improvement related research and development programmes. Among several, cooperative varietal testing, collection cateloguing and maintenance of rice cultivar germplasm and Asiawide indica-japonica hybridization for yield enhancement of tropical rice are important. Involved in setting up several regional networks/working groups during the 80s, it has been supporting Interregional Cooperative Research Network on Rice in the Mediterranean Climate Areas, Wetland Development and Management Network/Inland Valley Swamps, Working Groups on Hybrid Rice in Latin America and International Task Force on Hybrid Rice. FAO has MoUs with IRRI for strengthening collaborative action aimed at promoting wider adoption of hybrid rice technology outside China and with WARDA for rainfed rice technology diffusion in West Africa. Under the Rice Development Programme as approved by IRC member countries, FAO and International institutions, have the many programmes such as Hybrid rice development & use, Rice Integrated Crop Management, New Rice for Africa (NERICA), Prospecting with rice and Support to the special programmes on Food Security (Rice Almanac, 2002) The second major institutional support for improvement of rice was the establishment of IRRI with the mandate of improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers by generating and disseminating rice related knowledge and technology and strengthening the national rice research systems (NRRS). Its problem focused activities vis a vis the mandate broadly cover (a) collection, conservation and evaluation of genes of value, documentation and exchange of germplasm (b) improvement of rice for enhanced productivity, stability and profitability for diverse rice ecologies and (c) facilitating flow of germplasm and knowledge to NARS through International Rice Testing Programme/ecoregional research networking on problems of mutual interest (eg: Rainfed Lowland and Upland Research Consortia Research networks on Hybrid Rice; Asian Rice Biotechnology Network etc and training). Other major institutional initiatives for improvement of rice include establishment of West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Africa established in 1970 as an autonomous intergovernmental research association of 17 West and central African countries (since 1980, a member of the CGIAR). Is mandated with ensuring food security and allevation of poverty in the region through technology development for sustainable growth of rice sector. Yet another effort for improvement of rice in Africa has been through the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) located in Nigeria. The CIAT was established in 1967 in Latin America with the mandate of alleviating hunger and poverty in the tropical developing countries through enhancement of agricultural productivity by developing and applying science and technology. Among its major mandated crops rice has been one since its inception. The rice programme aiming at improving the nutritional and economic well-being of rice growers in Latin America and the Caribbean focuses on germplasm improvement for increasing production/productivity on sustainable basis.
FOUR DECADES OF RICE BREEDING – ACHIEVEMENTS, IMPACT, FUTURE DEMANDS AND STRATEGIES -Dr.E.A.Siddiq