Rice research history

Biofortified rice at an experimental site near Caranavi, Bolivia.


The Alliance’s Rice Program began in 1967 at the Palmira campus in Colombia, working closely with the Colombian Institute of Agriculture (ICA – Spanish acronym) and the National Rice Association (Fedearroz – Spanish name).

This collaborative program developed semi-dwarf cultivars using and exploiting hundreds of elite breeding lines introduced from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), as well as other germplasm sources that were subsequently crossed with criollo and other lines developed by ICA (Martinez et al., 2014).

The genetic composition of the working collection of the Alliance’s Rice Program includes IRRI, ICA and criollo materials. Japonica rice introduced from Asia and the United States were also used, as well as material from WARDA (West-African Rice Development Association), and IRAT (Institute for Research in Tropical Agriculture), among others. This breeding collection was enriched with the introduction and use of genetic resources with agronomic characteristics of interest to the region.

The Rice Program of the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT has focused on LAC and in the last five years it has developed more intensive germplasm evaluations in some West African countries. Since its beginning 55 years ago, the Alliance has invested more than US$380 million in germplasm research and development, which has positively impacted the region. In 2016, it was estimated that 63 % of the area planted with rice corresponded to materials from the Alliance, the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR) or derived from these organizations. Additionally, 377 rice varieties have been released in the last 55 years and all carry germplasm from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, as well as hybrids and biofortified varieties.