PNRIAccording to the Scientists from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) it has been found that extracts from seaweeds can boost rice production by 30% as well protect rice plants from major pests when they are treated with slight gamma radiation. These studies have been published in the January edition of the Radiation Physics and Chemistry journal. A team of scientists led by the Chief of PNRI’s chemistry research section showed that the carrageenan-derived polysaccharide, a carbohydrate, enhances rice growth when degraded through a “very small dose” of gamma radiation. They developed the carrageenan plant food supplementor (CPFS), which is derived from carrageenan extracted from red edible seaweeds.

Further, the PNRI scientist told to reporters that the chemical arrangement of carrageenan can provide more agricultural benefits. The long-chain carrageenan polymer can be broken down into shorter chain fragments known as oligomers, which can be easily absorbed by plants to help their growth and development as well as also improve their resistance to diseases .It has been revealed that by using gamma radiation, it was possible to cut up the polymer into oligomers without using chemicals or complicated and expensive processes. The CPFS is not radioactive and is a clean and it is also  additive-free method which is safe, non-toxic, environment friendly and above all it is effective, as it was emphasized by the Scientist. In addition, the scientist also noted that the new technology can increase rice yields by at least 30%.

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In this regard, further, it has also been stated that rice plants treated with CPFS have produced longer rice stems and panicles as compared to conventional crops. CPFS also induces resistance against major rice pests such as rice tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight.  A scientist  at the National Crop Protection Center who headed the field trials in Bulacan noted that three bags of chemical fertilizer per hectare combined with 200 parts per million or 20 millilitres per litre of CPFS yielded higher rice grain weight of 450 grams per 10 hills (mound of soil that is planted with seeds). On the other hand, the conventional farmers’ practice of applying nine bags of chemical fertiliser per hectare yielded a grain weight of only 275 grams per 10 hills.