The country will have to prioritize the development of rice that is more tolerant to heat due to climate change, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

RiceFarmers NorthCotabato 02 KeithBacongco 1024x683 - DOST underscores need to develop heat-resistant rice
(MB file, Keith Bacongco)

The DOST said in a statement that this was revealed by rice researchers during the recent webinar held by its National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NCRP) on “Rice Improvement for High Temperature Adaptation in the Philippines.”

“High temperature stress is one of the most important constraints in rice production in the Philippines,” Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) Chief Science Research Specialist Norvie Manigbas said during the webinar.

DOST noted the commonly grown rice varieties in the country already have high yields, good grain quality, and are resistant to pests and disease.

However, the rice varieties in the country lacked high temperature tolerance.

“If high temperature persists, which is predicted to increase by 1.1-2.4 degrees Celsius in the coming decades, future rice varieties should have the tolerance trait,” Manigbas said.

“Reports say that heat stress can cause yield decline of up to 14% in susceptible varieties,” the researcher cited.

Aside from the study of high temperature tolerances of rice, Manigbas said research and development should also be made for multi-trait abiotic stress rice improvement like drought, salinity, and submergence.”

The DOST explained rice thrives in temperatures between 25 to 35 degrees Celsius and become increasingly sensitive at hotter temperatures.

However, the DOST said that according to the historical data of both Philrice and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) the temperatures in the local fields have reached 35 degrees Celsius or more.

“If this will continue without mitigation or other measures to at least reduce it, then in the year 2065, as projected by DOST-PAGASA and other agro-meteorological government agencies, there will be a 2.5-3.0 degree Celsius increase in temperature, or even higher than it is today,” DOST said.

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