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Adlai, more commonly known as Job's Tears (left) is a viable alternative to staple food crops such as rice (right)

Better Food Crop Varieties Through Nuclear Science

Harnessing the power of the atom to help improve the country's agricultural productivity, the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) continues to develop new varieties of plants with unique or improved characteristics.

These traits can be induced from plants through the marvels of mutation breeding using gamma rays.

Among these traits of new varieties are changes in color, size or height, increase in yield, early maturity, resistance to pests and diseases or tolerance to drought, flooding, acid soils, salinity and high temperatures, among others.

Because these traits came from within the plant's genes and not introduced from other organisms, mutant plants are NOT genetically-modified organisms or GMOs.

Scientists and researchers from DOST-PNRI are hard at work developing mutant varieties of staple food crops such as rice, as well as viable alternatives such as adlai or Job's tears.

Mutant Rice Varieties

In the 1970's, the Philippines reached significant breakthroughs in agriculture with the rise of new rice varieties with improved characteristics.

These include the Philippine Atomic Rice Cultivar 2 (PARC 2), dubbed the "Atomic Rice", and the Milagrosa mutant rice which eliminated its seasonal traits while retaining its popular aroma.

PNRI researchers continue to develop mutant varieties of rice and other staple food crops with even higher yields, disease resistance, earlier maturity and shorter heights to improve the livelihood of Filipino Farmers.

Adlai or Job's Tears

Lesser-known staple food crops such as adlai, or Job's Tears, can serve as alternative sources of food to its better-known cousin crops such as rice and corn.

Adlai is twice as rich in protein as rice, and is known among indigenous communities throughout Asia as a source of flour, coffee, tea, wine, beer and vinegar, among other products.

It has anti-tumor and other medicinal properties which can help mitigate the symptoms of allergies, and diabetes. Moreover, adlai is also known for its resilience against extreme conditions brought about by climate change.

Farmers will soon have a new variety of adlai developed by PNRI researchers which have more yield and shorter height to make the crops easier to manage and more resistant to lodging during typhoons.