VinFuture Prize Laureates

Professor Xuan Vo-Tong
Innovators from Developing countries | 2023

Nam Can Tho University, Vietnam


Advancing disease-resistant rice varieties, ensuring global food security

The agricultural revolution was greatly propelled by the efforts of Professor Gurdev Singh Khush and Professor Xuan Vo-Tong in inventing and advancing disease-resistant rice varieties, contributing to the strengthening of global food security. Professor Vo-Tong has played a pivotal role in the advancement and dissemination of IR36 seeds across frequently pest-infested regions in the Mekong delta, collaborating with farmers to implement innovative transplanting techniques. This initiative led by Professor Vo-Tong expanded access to quality rice seeds and spurred increased rice production at lower costs, all without utilizing harmful chemicals.


By the 1980s, the IR36 rice variety was globally adopted, cultivated on up to 11 million hectares. By 2000, the widespread dissemination of IR36 and other rice varieties significantly boosted rice yields with production increasing by 600 million tons. Besides IR36, IR64 was also widely cultivated in over 10 million hectares within two decades of its release, making a positive impact on millions of lives worldwide. IR64 was first released in the Philippines in 1985, soon followed by releases in Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, The Gambia, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Vietnam, and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. By 2018, IR64 and its successive generations were extensively grown in many countries and became the most popular rice varieties in the Asian tropical regions, which exemplified their superior characteristics and exceptional adaptability.


Utilizing high-yield disease-resistant rice varieties like IR36 and IR64 not only reduces production costs and increases rice yield but also limits the use of pesticides, promoting sustainable agriculture globally. Additionally, advancements in global rice productivity ensure that access to a stable food supply becomes more equitable and reliable. This discovery has far-reaching impacts with potential effects on the socio-economic structure, environmental conservation, and global health, and plays a significant role in building a safer and more sustainable future for everyone.