It seems just ages ago that a great part of the world was imperiled by famines that tend to put world populations on the risk of widespread hunger. This was especially true before the 1960’s when scores of countries depending on rice as their staple food have gone through the risk of not being able to cope up with the demand for it due to a rapidly growing population as well as droughts and famines. Famine then was a serious threat that needed to be resolved in some way.
It is a good thing that a handful of concerned individuals were able to see the rapidly growing problem and decided to do something in order to find a way to get rid of this threat to the world at large. The way seen to improve rice yields was to develop a new rice strain that will be able to provide food for more people than what is then available.
With this aim, IRRI or the International Rice Research Institute was established as a research facility whose purpose was to develop that rice strain that will be able to provide a higher rice yield, greater resistance to diseases and insects, and was more responsive to fertilizers. The research facility which was based in the Philippines, through the painstaking process of plant breeding, was able to come out with the IR8 variety. The IR8 was hailed as the "Miracle Rice" because it helped avert the crisis of rice shortage in the 1960’s and helped sparked the Green Revolution.
The arrival of the Miracle Rice was just at the right time to help avert the serious concerns of world hunger then, especially for those countries where rice is considered as the staple food. But the problem of world hunger today is far from being a solved case. Although rice yields have so far been doubles through better rice strains being planted in farms, there are other problems that haven’t been given much concern.
The growing population has brought about more and more mouths to feed into the far future. The rapid population growth has been a cause of concern of another impending rice crisis in the world. Add to that the serious effects of climate change that has brought about more famine and drought in other parts of the world and it won’t be too difficult to think that the crisis can become a really serious problem indeed.
The problem being faced now is even becoming more of a challenge to tackle because of another problem- the rapidly decreasing land use for agriculture. As more and more countries strive to develop, progress and become more advanced, more and more land is being used up for building up cities and office buildings with less and less land being reserved for agriculture.
This is an added challenge that researchers have to deal with in trying to come up with the next "Miracle Rice" to spark up the next Green Revolution. Maybe this would be an area where biotechnology and genetic modification technology would be most helpful, especially at a time when another impending crisis might just be around the corner.