The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has received approval for the commercial distribution of the country’s first high temperature-tolerant rice seed after a decade’s worth of development and research. Called NSIC Rc 600 and 602, the variants can withstand temperatures exceeding 33 degrees Celsius. Such conditions subject common rice varieties to sterility and thus result in low yield.

According to Norvie Manigbas, one of the lead breeders of the heat-resistant rice seeds, the temperature in most parts of the country will be higher than 35 degrees Celsius in the next 25 years and may even reach 40 degrees Celsius in five decades.

“If you have 100 grains that are exposed to high temperature during the reproductive stage, it is likely that the yield would be cut by as much as 50 percent. Imagine the effect if you are a farmer aiming to produce a cavan of rice or more,” says Manigbas.

The variants have yet to be tested under El Niño conditions, but Manigbas is confident that it will withstand such temperature since the seeds are a heat-tolerant variant from Africa, which increases its chances of surviving drought

Select farmers from Nueva Ecija, Camarines Sur, and Cagayan have already received the new seed variants. Other farmers who are interested in acquiring the seeds can visit PhilRice’s office in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. The first harvest of the variants is expected by March and April this year. It will be available in the market at a price range between P38 and P45 per kilo.