Its Start and Impacts

After World War II most of the Asian countries attained independence from colonialism. At the same time, the limit for extension of farming was evident, due to population increase, particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the pre-green revolution years, there were some experiences in varietal improvement in many countries in Asia. There was a strong motivation for intensive agriculture following the model of the countries in the Far East, where land reform was successful and recovered heavy industries were able to provide sufficient chemical fertilizers.

Under such situations, international collaborative approaches were initiated for attaining higher yields of rice. The first model of a high yielding variety, Taichung Native 1 and several similar varieties were entered in cooperative trials sponsored by The International Rice Committee(IRC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for 1961-1963 in several countries. 2 The first crosses using such varieties were made in 1962 at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. International collaborative approaches by scientists became easier by development of transport and communication. A new plant type of rice was identified in such a network of international testing.

Then, the new plant type was further improved through breeding programs into the release of IR 8 from IRRI in 1967. The improved type was characterized by a single gene for semi-dwarfism, sd-1, which is a basis for the short stature and improved response to increased fertilizer application. This type performed best with a combination of increased fertilizers under irrigation. Similar approaches were adopted in other crops like wheat.

The new technologies were adopted through the 1970s, and led to self-sufficiency of rice in chronically deficient areas. New areas for rice cultivation were explored, because sufficient return on investments for irrigation and related infrastructures was predictable. Research at national centers was also strongly supported. The intensified rice farming was further developed in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Egypt and China.

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