Gollin1 and RE Evenson2

1 Department of Economics, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA;2Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Since 1960, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), located in the Philippines, has played a key role in worldwide efforts to develop improved varieties of rice. IRRI has a number of programmes to facilitate rice genetic improvement. IRRI's own plant breeding programme (IRPB) produces improved cultivars, both in the form of 'varieties' that are ready for use in farmers' fields and in the form of 'advanced lines' suited for use as parent material in national plant breeding programmes. IRRI maintains an international collection of rice genetic resources, the International Rice Germplasm Collection (IRGC) designed to preserve germplasm and to provide it freely to the international scientific community, including national germplasm collections. In addition, IRRI maintains and coordinates a system of international nurseries, the International Network for the Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER), through which advanced genetic materials are exchanged and evaluated.

In this chapter we analyse the economic role of IRRI's three international programmes (IRPB, IRGC and INGER) and estimate their economic contributions as embodied in improved rice cultivars. We conduct a genealogical analysis of released rice varieties from national rice breeding programmes and IRRI since 1965, when the first modern high-yielding rice varieties were released, and we trace the 'routes' by which rice germplasm is incorporated into improved varieties. An econometric analysis is undertaken to estimate the impacts of the IRPB, IRGC and INGER programmes on the number of improved varieties developed over the 1965-1990 period. Calculations based on these estimates provide estimates of economic value.1

For this study we have compiled a database of 1709 modern rice varieties released since the early 1960s.2 For each of these released varieties, a complete genealogy was assembled, which included the date and origin of the cross on which the variety was based, as well as the date and origin of all parents, grandparents and other ancestors. Thus ancestry was traced back to original ancestors, in most cases, landraces or wild species.3 In addition we were able to determine whether the cross or any ancestors appeared in IRRI's international testing programmes (INGER nurseries) and whether they were selected from these nurseries for crossing.4

Of the 1709 modern varieties and elite (advanced) lines, 33 were released prior to 1965 (and thus prior to the release of any IRRI materials).5 Table 13.1 gives the frequency of release by country and by time period. Where release dates were not available, approximate dates were estimated based on available information.

The data set includes materials from numerous countries, but it is relatively more complete for rice-producing countries of South and Southeast Asia than for those from other regions. India, in particular, is represented in the data set at a level that appears to be disproportionately large, with 643 varieties. Although India's breeding programmes have a long and productive history, the data set probably reflects a bias towards India based on the extensive and available data.6 For a number of reasons, Japanese varieties were not included in this analysis.7 The data indicate that numbers of released varieties rose steadily during the 1970s but have stabilized over the past 15 years. In some countries and regions, however, such as Latin America, varietal release totals have climbed markedly in the most recent period.

Table 13.1. Numbers of varieties included in the data set, by country of release and by time period of release.

Country/region

Pre 1965

1966-70

1971-75

1976-80

1981-85

1986-91

Total

Africa

3

7

6

17

26

42

101

Bangladesh

1

7

8

11

4

3

34

Burma

0

4

6

21

37

8

76

China

0

1

8

30

31

12

82

India

10

67

136

139

125

166

643

Indonesia

1

2

5

21

10

9

48

Korea

0

5

11

35

40

15

106

Latin America

7

9

48

32

43

100

239

Nepal

0

0

1

10

4

2

17

Oceania

0

1

4

1

0

0

6

Pakistan

0

4

2

3

3

0

12

The Philippines

3

4

13

23

8

2

53

Sri Lanka

3

14

4

8

21

3

53

Taiwan

0

3

0

3

0

0

6

Thailand

1

2

4

8

5

3

23

USA

2

5

18

17

3

6

51

Vietnam

0

16

6

16

16

5

59

Other SE Asia

2

1

8

7

6

5

29

Other

0

7

15

15

15

19

71

Total

33

159

305

417

397

400

1709

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