Ren Wang, director for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), told Reuters that new crop varieties, such as drought-resistant rice, were crucial for securing food supply, especially as populations continue to grow.
Creating new species, which would allow farmers to adapt to increasing extreme weather conditions, is possible only via enforced partnerships, the Chinese scientist said.
“We have seen increased incidents of droughts and flood. All of these pose particular threats to the world food supply,” Wang said this week via telephone.
“We have seen dramatic increases in prices of corn or wheat … Indonesia faces a really severe shortage of rice supply.”
He said a new sorghum developed at a CGIAR centre in India contained more sugar in its stalk, raising hopes of growing biofuel crops to boost farmers’ income without endangering food supply.
But among conventional new varieties, developed by CGIAR, Wang expected drought-resistant, high-yield rice to be introduced in the next 3-5 years in India, where many fields are not irrigated.
Submergence-tolerant rice, developed last year, will also reach farmers in Bangladesh, India, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Adaptation is crucial in the coming years, especially for poor and developing countries. Technology can assist greatly in this endeavour and help combat poverty.