The Republic of Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in terms of area and population in South America. Agriculture is an important sector of Suriname’s economy by Suriname_Map contributing significantly to foreign exchange generation, number of persons employed and GDP (13%). Agricultural activity is confined to arable land which constitutes about 1% of total land. The main products are: paddy rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts, beef, chickens, shrimp, and forest products.
Suriname’s agricultural research is carried out by three public institutions. Nonetheless, today, only one carries out plant breeding. In fact, in 1994, due to the severe lack of manpower, the Government of Suriname reduced breeding activities to a single program — rice breeding and research under the auspices of ADRON (see description below).
The work on rice focuses on quality traits because it caters to the export market and has a niche for extra long grain rice. The need to focus on biotic stress has also surfaced in recent years, mainly due to the onset of blast disease in the newly released varieties. There continues to be interest in traits for adaptation to environmental variations.
The attempts by the government to increase wages in order to attract more qualified researchers have not been broadly successful, and staff turnover remains a major problem. ADRON considers that lack of financial resources followed by the inadequate availability of laboratory infrastructure are the most limiting factors hindering the progress of rice breeding and genetic improvement. The inadequate access to recent literature and limited access to international genetic resources also contributes to the slow pace of genetic development.