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Rice : The Birth of Matatag Lines

We were reading the newly published “An External Review of PhilRice Impact”, and we came across an item which relates the story on how Matatag varieties came about. The Matatag varieties are resistant to rice tungro disease, one of the major diseases that could cause up to 60 percent to 91 percent yield losses. We thought readers of this column might be interested to know the story.

Matatag varieties became popular in Mindanao even before the first variety was approved by the Philippine Seed Board in 2000, a few years before that serious tungro outbreaks occurred in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur.

At that time, PhilRice-Midsayap was conducting field trials of IRRI’s first rice tungro disease line, IR 71031-4-5-5-1. Trials in farmers’ fields in 1998 yielded 3.5-4.8 tons a hectare. Seed samples of IR 71031-4-5-5-1 and another resistant line of IRRI, IR69726-116-1-3, were given to farmers during their graduation in a farmers’ field school on rice tungro disease management. PhilRice baptized the two lines as Matatag lines 1 and 2.

PhilRice-Midsayap also started to produce seeds of the two lines as a stopgap measure in solving the serious outbreaks of the disease in Mindanao.

The Matatag seed production and distribution activities resulted in a dramatic decrease in tungro incidence starting in year 2000. “The tungro-affected areas were significantly reduced as a result of the seed distribution under the leadership of Phil Rice-Midsayap.”

The Matatag lines continued to be tried in the field with their inclusion in the National Cooperative Tests. Three IRRI-bred lines have been already approved as commercial varieties by the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC). These are
•IR69726-29-1-2-2-2 – Matatag 2 (released in 2001)
•IR73885-1-4-3-2-1-6 – Matatag 9 (release&in 2002)
•NSIC Rc 118 – Matatag 3 (released in 2003)

PhilRice has also produced its own Matatag variety, Matatag 6, which was released for commercial planting as NSIC Rc 120. It should be noted, however, that although PhilRice has bred only one Matatag variety, it was the Institute that tested IRRI’s rice tungro disease resistant lines in the field and led in their nationwide testing before these were released as commercial varieties.