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Rice that Changed the World

In November 2016, IRRI will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the official release of the semidwarf rice variety IR8 to Asia and the world. IR8 was developed by rice scientists working at IRRI in the early 1960s and is believed to have saved many regions of Asia from famine after it was released in November 1966. It became popular with farmers because it had a short growth duration and a high-yield capacity related to its response to nitrogen fertilizer.

The variety was first introduced in the Philippines and India based on research conducted by IRRI scientists. The 50th anniversary of IR8 is an opportune time for IRRI to host celebratory events in the Philippines and India and to share the milestone with other regional constituencies.


IR8 Celebrations

While IRRI is commemorating a past accomplishment, the institute looks to the future; to continued work with our partners; to meaningful and invigorated rice research programs; and to improving the lives of millions of rice farmers and consumers.

IRRI is celebrating the 50th anniversary of IR8, the Miracle Rice that started the Green Revolution, with two special events.

Photos from the IR8 celebration in India

Photos from the IR8 celebration in the Philippines



Getting to the next tonne: the future of India’s rice sector

21 November 2016
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

The Taj Mahal Hotel, Number One Mansingh Road, New Delhi, Delhi, India


Partners' Day

29 November 2016
7:00 AM - 2:30 PM

IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines


Articles on IR8

Rice revolutions in Latin America

In 1962, scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) debated the cause of low and stagnant rice yields in the tropics: was it variety or crop management? This debate ended with the release of the semidwarf IR8 in 1966, initiating the Green Revolution. The same variety, in the same year, extended this revolution to Latin America, beginning in Colombia and spreading rapidly through the tropics and later to the temperate areas.
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I remember Honda Rice

The Green Revolution in rice has been documented throughout much of Asia, but few think of Vietnam in the 1960s and ‘70s as a “Green Revolution country.” That’s because IR8 arrived at the height of a brutal war that overshadowed an agricultural transformation in the countryside. Rice means life itself in Vietnam, and was used both as a weapon and as a tool for peace. I have strong memories of the war: Huey choppers, mortars, ambushes, and needless deaths. But I also remember Honda Rice. -- Tom Hargrove, August 2006
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Luck is the residue of design

Peter Jennings, the International Rice Research Institute’s first rice breeder (1961-67), with a long career in Latin America after his work in Asia, kicks off this historic series with a singular wit. He played a major role in the development of IR8, the rice variety that would ultimately change the face of agriculture across Asia. He reminisced on a warm, muggy day (20 July 2007) at his home in Gainesville, Florida. Here are edited highlights of the interview.
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Breeding history

Forty years ago, a remarkable rice-breeding project culminated in the release of a rice variety under an unremarkable name — IR8. This is the story of the research that would ultimately change the face of agriculture across Asia.
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Rice revival in the land of maize

Anyone worried about the impacts of trade liberalization on developing-country rice sectors should take a close look at Mexico’s experience and learn from a recent campaign—led by the Mexican Rice Council and its partners—to revive national production. That may sound like odd advice. After all, Mexico is not widely perceived as being strong on rice—a distinction that in Latin America goes instead to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and others.
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Indian farmer kick-starts two green revolutions

A while back, I read an interesting story extolling the merits of the new flood-tolerant rice, Swarna-Sub1, in the newsletter of the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project. The author, Manzoor Hussain Dar, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) senior associate scientist based in India, included two photos of the same farmer, Nekkanti Subba Rao, in the same field on his Andhra Pradesh farm.
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The brains and brawn behind IR8

Dr. Robert Chandler was appointed by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations to be IRRI’s first director general and charged with a mission to develop higher-yielding rice varieties in the face of famine in Asia. In the final analysis, he was certainly the right person at the right place and right time to get the ball rolling for rice research in the early 1960s.
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Celebrating 50 years of IR8: U.S. President Johnson makes historic visit to IRRI with stirring words

This year, 2016, IRRI is observing and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of IR8, the first semidwarf rice variety that would ultimately change the face of agriculture across Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere. However, it is also the golden anniversary of the historic arrival of the first and only U.S. president, Lyndon Johnson, who visited the institute on 26 October 1966. He came to see—and find out more about—this miracle rice called IR8.
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Shalabh Dixit: The link between rice genes and rice farmers

A QTL is a segment of an organism’s DNA that contains a gene or genes linked to a particular trait. In the rice plant, for example, it can control height, built-in resistance to a particular disease, or the ability to produce more grain yield. It is within this complex inner universe of genes and DNA strands where Shalabh Dixit works in his role as a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) Plant Breeding Division. He searches for untapped genetic materials to develop new rice varieties that are tougher and more productive.
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