In collaboration with national rice research and extension systems, the regional research and development technical assistance (TA) will cover water shortage countries in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, and Nepal) and Southeast Asia (Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic) through further adaptation research, trialing, and knowledge transfer of the technologies developed under RETA 6276 Development and Dissemination of Water-Saving Rice Technologies in South Asia. ADB funds shall be used for activities related to large-scale seed multiplication and distribution of climate-adapted varieties, evaluation and dissemination of second generation water-saving rice varieties, and development and initial dissemination of new, third generation aerobic and alternate wetting and drying (AWD) varieties, and impact analysis of the TA.
The TA will ensure availability of climate-adapted rice varieties through collaboration with national and provincial seed multiplication agencies, public and private sector institutes, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) for large-scale seed production and distribution. Varieties developed under the TA shall be available for cultivation to all farmers in beneficiary countries and can be shared with different research institutions in different countries after the signing of the IRRI standard material transfer agreement.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
In the Asia and Pacific region, 90% of the total diverted fresh water is used to irrigate agriculture, and more than 50% of this is used to irrigate rice. The growing scarcity of water worldwide has started to influence conventional irrigated rice production. By 2025, physical water scarcity will affect an estimated 15 million hectares. Recent climate change estimates predict the irrigation water deficit and the intensity and frequency of water shortage to deteriorate further. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that about 1.2 billion people could face freshwater shortages by 2020 and crop yields in some parts of the region could drop by as much as 30% by 2050. This will impact both irrigated and rain-fed agriculture. The interannual rainfall variability, including the concentration of rain in fewer days in a year and in different locations, will further impair surface irrigation systems. Droughts will occur with new and varied intensities.
The increasing water scarcity highlights the need to improve the water productivity of rice and to reduce its susceptibility to water stress to ensure adequate food for future generations. The International Rice Research Institute's (IRRI) research on water-saving technologies developed the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology for high-yielding transplanted rice. Testing at IRRI and field experience in Bangladesh and India have shown that the AWD system leads to savings of at least 15% 20% water compared to transplanted flooded rice, without any yield decline. Technologies that require further development include aerobic rice as a prominent water-saving technology for moderate yielding, direct-seeded situations, and new varieties that are more tolerant of water-stress events. Aerobic rice trials using direct seeding have demonstrated 30% 35% water saving. In addition, aerobic rice is a labor-saving technology, and can also be carried more efficiently with tractor-driven seeding implements. The frequency of water-stress events during the rice-growing period are becoming more common, and varieties that suffer less yield loss from these events need to be further developed.
The TA is consistent with climate change impacts on water and food security, knowledge solutions, and inclusive, environmentally sustainable development, as prioritized in the country partnership strategies (CPS) for each cooperating country. It is also consistent with the GMS strategic Framework 2012 -2022 (endorsed during the 5th meeting of the GMS Working Group on Agriculture), which has identified climate change as a key priority for action. With climate change adaptation being a core area of operation, the TA is consistent ADB's Strategy 2020. The TA is also consistent with ADB's Operational Plan for Sustainable Food Security in Asia and the Pacific and the Water Operational Plan 2011 -2020.
The outcome of the TA can be leveraged for inclusion in food security investment projects. Adoption of water-saving rice varieties can serve as a project component of a large investment project on food security, which often requires comprehensive measures in dealing with the issue of food supply amid climate change. It can also be a stand-alone investment catalyzing on the outcome of promising climate-adapted rice varieties through investing on its sustainable distribution, including facilitating market system distribution without compromising affordability among poor farmers. Investment projects that will establish distributional pathways and access to climate-adapted rice varieties especially targeting small farmers can guarantee greater impact as climate-adapted rice varieties meet both the pressing needs of ensuring food security and reducing the environmental footprint of rice. Financing for capacity development and provision of management packages for effective adoption of rice varieties with private sector involvement, and establishing institutional infrastructure to facilitate take up are also potential follow-up investment opportunities to sustain the development and dissemination of climate-adapted rice varieties.