Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Perennial Rice

In the subtropical Yunnan Province of China, high-yielding perennial rice has been successfully developed. In 2021, perennial rice was grown on 15,333 ha by 44,752 smallholder farmers in southern China and is now expanding throughout SE Asia and Africa.

PR23 and a number of other selections were developed through a wide hybrid cross between annual, cultivated rice, Oryza sativa, and a perennial cousin of rice from Africa, Oryza longistaminata.  This wide hybridization approach is the same one being employed by breeders at The Land Institute to perennialize sorghum and wheat.

Why Perennial Rice?

  • Rice feeds 4 billion people and is the grain most consumed by humans. It’s the third largest cereal grain crop after corn and wheat worldwide in metric tons.
  • Rice production is a very labor-intensive activity for farmers, and perennial rice would greatly reduce these labor inputs. 2022 research shows that farmers used nearly 60% less labor and spent almost 50% less on seed, fertilizer, and other inputs for perennial rice than annual rice.
  • High-yielding perennial rice produced grain for eight consecutive harvests over four years from a single planting, with average perennial rice yields equivalent to annual rice, with 6.8 Mg ha-1 harvest-1 of perennial rice versus 6.7 Mg ha-1 harvest-1 of replanted annual rice for each perennial rice regrowth cycle.
  • By switching from annual to perennial rice, soils accumulated almost a ton of organic carbon per hectare per year, 0.81 Mg organic carbon ha-1 yr-1
  • Farmer profits from perennial rice ranged from 17% to 161% above annual rice

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