US agricultural technology firm Arcadia Biosciences teamed up with Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds (Mahyco), a major seed producer and developer, to find ways to improve crop yields under conditions of severe drought.
The researchers hope soon to be able to test the project’s early crops for their ability to withstand varying environmental effects of climate change while at the same time expanding the range of usable acreage for crop production.
The study has so far demonstrated that WUE technology has significantly increased plant growth under normal and water-stress conditions in some of the rice lines developed by Mahyco. The rice lines incorporating the technology showed double-digit increases in plant performance and yield.
Rice is the world’s most valuable crop and plays a critical role in food security for more than half of the world’s population. It was grown across 162m hectares globally with a harvest value of US$334.7bn in 2012, according to the FAO.
“At a time when farmers in India face significant pressure to increase productivity factors such as urban growth, drought and rainfall variations are limiting water resources available for agriculture, particularly for water intensive crops such as rice,” said Eric Rey president and chief executive of Arcadia, adding that the companies were working on other projects to improve water efficiency.
Usha Zehr, Mahyco’s chief technology officer, added: “With this milestone we are closer to bringing the benefits of this technology to the farmers who are challenged with reduced water availability on their farms and improving the overall productivity of the crop.”