UKM First to Produce Cross Breed Rice

By Asmahanim Amir
Pictures by Ikhwan Hashim

SEMANGGOL, 5 March 2018 – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has successfully produced two new varieties of high quality white rice, UKMRC-2 and UKMRC-8, through meticulous research.

The two new varieties were created through a cross breed process between local high quality rice, Oryza sativa, and wild rice, Oryza rufipogon, obtained from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, through the controlled pollination.

According to UKM researcher Prof Dr Wickineswari Ratnam, UKMRC-2 and UKMRC-8 were found to be able to yield 20% more rice compared to other species.

“Throughout our 16 year research, we found that wild rice species have the potential in enhancing features such as resistance to flood, disease, pest infestations and increased revenue.

“Hence, we thought that it would be a great innovation to cross breed the local high quality rice and wild rice,” she explained.

The research found that UKMRC-2 can produce 12 tons of 3.5mm white rice per hectare and were disease resistant.

The seeds can live well even though submerged in water for about three weeks.

Meanwhile, UKMRC-8, yields about 14 tons of white rice per hectare with low crushed rice level.

“The UKMRC-8 seeds also can live well despite being submerged in flood in the same period with UKMRC-2 and at 3.68mm, is slightly longer than UKMRC-2,” she said adding that both varieties have a low starch level.

Both varieties has been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry to be marketed to farmers.

Meanwhile, a farmer who, Khairul Abdul Rahman said that both varieties (UKMRC-2 and UKMRC-8) were easy to plant and maintained.

He said the maturity period for both variety were only between 105 days until 110 days.

The research conducted to improve the country’s rice yields is a collaboration between UKM, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) through a RM3 million grant.