PhilRice researchers look to traditional varieties to fight rice pests, diseases
Researchers from the Philippine Rice Research Institute are screening traditional varieties of rice to develop new varieties that are more resistant to diseases.
PhilRice said rice diseases are more common during the rainy season because the conditions make it more conducive to the spread and development of diseases such as bacterial leaf blight and fungal diseases such as rice blast, sheath blight and rice tungro.
Reports said that traditional varieties are resistant against rice blast and PhilRice is currently screening breeding lines and exploring the use of beneficial microorganisms as biocontrol agents against rice pests and diseases.
“We hope to find novel genes (against rice blast) among those traditional varieties, so we can incorporate them in our modern varieties.
The beauty of this is that we are working on our own materials,” PhilRice crop protection division’s Dr. Jennifer Niones said
PhilRice said early detection of diseases is the farmer’s best defense to prevent it from spreading.
“Choosing the right variety to plant that is high-yielding and adaptable to the local environment is crucial.
Farmers must select varieties resistant to the diseases that previously attacked their farm,” Niones said.
Modern varieties resistant to specific pests or diseases are: PSB Rc10 (for rice blast), Rc242 (for bacterial leaf blight), and Rc 216 (for green leafhopper).
PhilRice advised farmers to observe cultural management strategies, preparing their land well and ridding it of undecomposed rice stubbles and straw that pathogens can thrive on.
She cautioned farmers against excessive use of nitrogen and synthetic chemicals in dealing with pest and disease infestation, saying it is just a waste of resources.
“Farmers should focus on preventing the onset of the disease, not by spraying but by applying aforementioned cultural management practices. The use of chemicals to control bacterial leaf blight is not economical and effective,” Niones said.