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2-Thailand: Thai researchers develop non-GE blast-resistant rice

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TITLE:  New strain to help lift output
SOURCE: The Bangkok Post, Thailand, by Phusadee Arunmas
DATE:   8 Sep 2004 

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New strain to help lift output

A new Hom Mali rice strain that resists blast disease, a contagious
infection that damages about one-third of the country's total premium
output each year, will be introduced late this year, according to the
Department of Agriculture. The yet-to-be-named jasmine rice strain will
help farmers reduce the waste ratio, a major factor behind low yields per
rai of 250-300 kilogrammes currently. With the new strain, output is
expected to rise by up to 60% to 400 kg per rai, said department director
Piroge Suvanjinda. The department researched the new strain for six years
in co-operation with the Philippines-based International Rice Research
Institute. It has been tested at experimental fields in Ubon Ratchathani.
The department initially will focus on farmers in the Northeast, who
primarily grow conventional Hom Mali rice and Kor Khor 6, a sticky rice
strain with no resistance to the disease. The department said that in the
2003-04 crop year, Hom Mali paddy made up around 5.53 million tonnes, up
about 6% from the previous crop, and milled rice three million tonnes.
Cultivation areas were estimated at 18.6 million rai, up 1.5% year-on-
year, while the yield per rai was 296 kg, rising by 4.2% from the
previous crop. Vichai Sriprasert, president of the Rice Exporters
Association, said higher yields would help farmers reduce costs. "The
lower the production cost, the more competitiveness for Thai farmers," he



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