Manila: A rice variety that is more tolerant to flooding provides hope for Filipino farmers who frequently had to contend with seasonal inundation of their farms.

Developed by experts of the International Rice Research Institute, the “Submarino” rice grows even in conditions where fields are left submerged for two weeks.

Conventional varieties of rice, by themselves, are tolerant and need large amounts of water to survive. However, in conditions when the crops are submerged for weeks on end, the rice dies leaving flooded farmers bereft of income and sometimes, even indebted because of the amount they had spent on farm inputs.

IRRI said given the frequent rainfall in the Philippines, Submarino rice is suitable in most parts of the country because it can “survive floods if they occur before flowering.”

The latest Submarino variety, according to IRRI was released in the Philippines in 2009 and disseminated and promoted by the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to help rice farmers in times of floods and typhoons.

Philippine Secretary of Agriculture Proceso Alcala said:“IRRI is one of our partner agencies that studies and promotes the propagation of Submarino rice varieties that can recover even after being submerged for 14 days.”

Since its release, Submarino rice has been widely adopted by rice farmers across the country, thanks to efforts by the DA and its agencies, which have been actively promoting Submarino rice to farmers.

Submarino, is also expected to boost the country’s food security.

“By planting Submarino rice, farmers have a fighting chance to outlast most rains and floods that unfortunately beset the country,” according to IRRI Deputy Director General for Communications and Partnerships, Dr V Bruce J Tolentino.

The Submarino rice varieties currently available in the Philippines include Submarino 1 (NSIC Rc194, released 2009) and Sacobia (PSB Rc68, released 1997).

Like most countries in Southeast Asia, rice is the staple cereal. But unlike other countries in the region, the Philippine’s remains dependent on imports from its rice-producing neighbours such as Thailand and Vietnam. The DA said that given that the country’s rice-producing areas are not battered by storms and drought, the Philippines can well become self-sufficient in rice.

According to IRRI, Submarino rice also yields even when floods don’t occur.

“It’s a great choice for farmers,” the Institute said.