Food-tolerant rice varieties in India and BangladeshSouth Asia


Bangladesh and India are the two most vulnerable areas to climate change in South Asia. During floods, farmers in Bangladesh and India lose up to 4 million tonnes of rice per year—enough to feed 30 million people. Submergence can affect rice crops at any stage of growth, either short-term (flash floods) or long-term (stagnant flooding).  Chances of survival are extremely low when completely submerged during the crop’s vegetative stage.  During flooding, the rice plant elongates its leaves and stems to escape submergence, but high-yielding modern varieties cannot elongate enough. If floods last for more than a few days, the rice plants expend so much energy trying to escape that they are unable to recover.

Plant breeders have discovered that a single gene, the SUB1 gene, confers resistance to submergence of up to 14 days. Scientists were able to isolate this gene, derived from an Indian rice variety, and identify the genetic code that controls submergence tolerance. The SUB1A gene activates when the plant is submerged, making it dormant and conserving its energy until the floodwater recedes. Improved varieties incorporated with the SUB1 gene have shown a yield advantage of 1–3 tons following flooding for 10–15 days. The project Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) began at the end of 2007 with the International Rice Research Institute in collaboration with AfricaRice to develop and deliver rice varieties tolerant of abiotic stresses to the millions of farmers in the unfavorable rice-growing environments. Flood-tolerant varieties that have been released through STRASA and are now being planted include Swarna Sub1 in India and Samba Mahsuri in Bangladesh.

Relationship to CSA

Aggravating floods are among the most ascertained impacts of climate change in many rice growing regions. East India and Bangladesh have been battered by several tropical cyclones in recent years. Increasing sea levels will further increase flooding risks in coastal areas and deltas. In addition to water depth, higher sea levels increase the duration of flooding which is typically the decisive feature to determine survival rate of rice plants. Flood-tolerant rice varieties are effectively the only adaptation options under such hazardous circumstances of intense flooding events. One impact assessment study showed that SUB1 can deliver both efficiency gains, through higher and less variable yields; and equity gains in disproportionately benefiting marginal, lower caste groups of farmers heavily occupying these areas.

Impact and lessons learned

Plant breeding has a long track record of improving resilience of rice production systems to climatic extremes. New approaches of (non-GMO) ‘precision breeding’ allow the introgression of specific traits into any given variety while its ‘genetic background’ remains largely intact. In turn, the new version of this variety will not need any change in cop management and also will maintain the grain quality traits. By choosing popular varieties for genetic improvement, this approach will not face any problem in farmers’ acceptability of improved seeds.

Welcometoclimate-smart agriculture 101

scroll to discover

This site is your gateway to implementing climate-smart agricultureIt will help you get started and guide you right through to implementation on the ground, connecting you with all the resources you need to dig deeper.

scroll to start

CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

Case studies

Local case studies

Filter by entry points