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Farmers rejecting hybrid rice

In the face of hollow promises and the vulnerabilities of hybrid rice production, many farmers are rejecting hybrid rice.

NISTPASS provides some examples:

"The Philippines is one of the earliest adopters of hybrid rice technology, having been IRRI’s host country for the last 50 years, but as early as 2000, the majority of farmers were unwilling to plant hybrid rice, despite the subsidies, because they find it more difficult to cultivate and inferior in terms of grain price, profitability, consumer demand, and head rice recovery.

"Many farmers in the Red River Delta, a major hybrid rice growing region in Vietnam, prefer to plant conventional varieties that require less inputs and investments but are high-yielding. By 2009, the Bangladeshi farmers started rejecting hybrid rice. Despite efforts by the government and concerned agencies to extend the subsidy, they were able to push only about half the target of 10,000 tons of hybrid rice seeds on farmers. The acreage declined considerably as a result. Some of farmers signed up for pilot program had complete crop failures, and burned their fields in desperation."

Implications

It remains to be seen whether farmer’s rejection could slow the adoption of hybrid rice. As NISTPASS highlights, “Despite this (resistance in the Philippines), the push for hybrid rice continued, heavily driven by subsidies.” Nonetheless, it does point to an emerging battleground in the economic and political field of rice agribusiness. NISTPASS summarizes that changing the emerging hybrid rice production system “requires that lands be kept in the hands of local communities, by implementing meaningfully land redistribution that would give those communities complete access to the land itself and its resources. It is only with communities’ full control of the land that farmers will be able to control the entire production system. Only this can farmers truly have seed alternatives that can re-orient agriculture, restructure the market, and rediscover the wealth of cultural dietary norms based on biodiversity.”

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Sources:

NISTPASS, Nov 2010 page 7,8:
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/NISTPASS_Nov2010.pdf#page=7

Why hybrid rice continues to fail Asia's small farmers.
http://www.grain.org/o/?id=100

Tran Duc Vien and Nguyen Thi Duong Nga, “Economic impact of hybrid rice in Vietnam an initial assessment,” Hanoi University of Agriculture, 2009, http://www.cares.org.vn./webplus/Article/ ECONOMIC%20IMPACT%20OF%20 HYBRID%20RICE%20IN%20VIETNAM.pdf