Thursday, October 19, 2017

IRRI, GrainPro introduce advanced hermetic rice storage tech in Vietnam




In Vietnam, it is crucial that rice producers and traders learn more about effective rice storage techniques to preserve rice quality and increase its market value. One significant challenge among Vietnam farmers is proper rice storage and management to maintain its prime condition. Mismanagement of storage can lead to rice loss due to birds, rodents, and other animals, as well as grain quality deterioration. On the other hand, storing rice properly helps preserve its high quality while reducing its negative effects in the environment. It also enables farmers to gain a bigger profit margin.

To build awareness on effective and sustainable rice storage techniques, GrainPro and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) introduced the Ultra Hermetic Storage technology in Vietnam through a workshop titled "The Ultra Hermetic Storage: A seminar-workshop for ensuring Vietnam's rice quality". It was attended by government agencies, NGOs, and private sector representatives from big rice producers in the country.

Hermetic storage is an IRRI-developed postharvest technology that is being used in many countries for the past 20 years. Because of the air-tight enclosure, it can reduce loss and preserve grain quality. It can also be operated without power, and does not require pesticides for fumigation.

“This workshop helped us understand best practices in storage management and gives us more options for our rice processing and business”, said Gentraco Corporation representative, Ho Chi Cong. Du Ngoc Bao Anh from the Loc Van Company added, “this new technology should be introduced to start-up business models supported by Vietnamese Government”.

Promoting this postharvest technology among Vietnam's rice farmers can allow them to store rice that are of export quality. But to make this possible, the Ultra Hermetic Storage technology must be disseminated broadly. To this end, the workshop provided an opportunity to identify potential collaborations for wide-scale distribution, as it gathered private companies and government staff in Vietnam.

The workshop was co-organized by Martin Gummert and Nguyen Van Hung of IRRI, Tom de Bruin of GrainPro, and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Nghi of Nong Lam University. It was held last 28 September at Nong Lam University, Ho Chi Minh.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Myanmar signs Seed Sharing Protocol Agreement


Myanmar has become the latest country to sign the Seed Sharing Protocol Agreement. The nation joined Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in this initiative that allows signatories to rapidly distribute modern rice varieties across their borders. This will enable new, climate-resilient seed varieties to reach the fields of the farmers in a shorter amount of time, which in turn will secure their food supply and increase their income.

Signed on 10 October during a meeting of IRRI’s Board of Trustees in Myanmar, the agreement will establish common parameters for varietal release. Modern, climate-resilient rice varieties that withstand drought or salinity help vulnerable farmers establish a secure food supply for their families as well as added income that they can invest in their own future.

Standard regulatory systems for new rice varieties require multi-season testing to ensure performance, pest and disease resistance and consumption quality. While these processes are important for quality assurance, it is typically conducted independently by each country. As such, a variety released in one country is still required to go through a similar vetting process in a neighboring country, increasing the time to market these new rice varieties.

The expansion of the regional seed-sharing agreement to include Myanmar builds on the success of the existing South Asia Regional Seed Policy Agreement, which was signed in 2014 by the governments of Bangladesh, Nepal, and India. In its first 3 years, this agreement has enabled eight rice varieties to be released and shared across three countries.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research hosts IRRI Board meetings


On 10 October, Dr. Aung Thu, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation in Myanmar, joined the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and senior leaders alongside members of the donor community to witness Myanmar becoming a signatory to the Seed Sharing Protocol Agreement.

The signing took place as part of a day-long set of activities co-hosted by the Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research (DAR) and IRRI in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

The Seed Sharing Protocol was first signed in Siem Reap in June, 2017 by the agriculture ministries of Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The protocol enables signatories to drastically speed up the distribution of modern rice varieties across their borders allowing new and better seeds to reach the hands and fields of farmers more rapidly. In just 3 years, eight rice varieties have already been released and shared across the three original member country signatories - Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.

The protocol signing ceremony was followed by a Donor Roundtable discussion. Attended by U Naing Kyi Win, Director General of Department of Agricultural Research as well as representatives from USAID, the Asian Development Bank, ACIAR, the Chinese Embassy, JICA and the World Bank, the session featured a series of presentations on donor strategies for agriculture in Myanmar.

U Kyaw Swe Linn, Deputy Director General of the Department of Agricultural Planning opened the session with a presentation on the goals and objectives for the agriculture sector of the Myanmar government.

“One of the key thrusts of the new IRRI Strategic Plan is a commitment to greater regionalization and actually embedding global expertise, locally so that researchers are able to work more closely with national partners and respond to local challenges,”  said Jim Godfrey, Chair of the IRRI Board of Trustees. He went on to say, “This session was very enlightening because it helped us to better understand the challenges and the opportunities that exist to support the Myanmar government closely as it strives to double its rice exports by 2020 and return to its preeminent position in the world’s rice trade.”

Earlier in the day, IRRI Trustees and senior leadership spent the morning at the Department of Agriculture Research where they were treated to a variety of traditional Myanmar rice-based delicacies. Information booths and a small demonstration of the sandalwood Thanaka were also available for those who wished to take advantage of the natural Myanmar sunscreen. The group then proceeded to view the DAR experimental rice fields where they were able to see several varieties selected and released by DAR including high zinc lines, IRRI variety trials, and the excellent farm management and support of IRRI’s field work.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

IRRI Molecular biology staff receives award at 2017 functional genomics symposium


Mr. Dhananjay Gotarkar in front of the winning poster for
upstream category
Suwon, Korea -- During the International Symposium of Rice Functional Genomics, held last 25-28 September, staff members from the Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), headed by Dr. Ajay Kohli, received an award for a poster presented in the upstream category.

Entitled “The Rice guanine deaminase negatively regulates a positive trait: evolutionary selection for root architecture,” the poster was presented by IRRI PhD scholar Dhananjay Gotarkar. He co-authored it with Dr. Kholi and their teammates Toshisangba Logkumer, Dhananjay Gotarkar, Kenneth Olsen, and Amrit Nanda.

The paper, from which the poster is based, covered the characterization of an amidohydrolase. It is a target gene of the NAM transcription factor, which is part of regulon-like QTL, DTY12.1-, which is a QTL for grain yield under drought. The amidohydrolase was found to be a guanine deaminase (GDA). This gene has not been characterized in plants until now and this discovery makes it the first reported Guanine deaminase in plants.

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IRRI presents climate-smart solutions for rice growers at Philippine-France Forum


Manila -- Climate change poses a risk to the agricultural sector, threatening food security and farmers well-being. Against this backdrop, the Philippine-France Forum on Agriculture on 26 September provided a venue for sharing of scientific and environmentally efficient strategies to address the effects of climate change.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) presented its projects that benefit rice farmers and consumers.  Matty Demont (photo), IRRI senior scientist and leader of the market research team, shared research being done on upgrading the rice value chain in the Philippines.

“Rice breeders need to tailor rice varieties to both market trends and the climate change. We also need to help rice farmers become more climate-resilient and competitive,” Demont said.

IRRI has developed and released climate-smart rice varieties that are drought-, flood-, and salt-tolerant to help farmers and communities cope with the adverse effects of climate change. Relevant and timely information on rice production is also important to boost productivity. IRRI works on widening farmers’ access to useful data through the Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) project.

PRISM uses remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), crop modeling, smart phone-based surveys, and cloud computing to generate information on where, when, and how much rice is grown in the country and assess crop health and damages caused by flood and drought. IRRI’s scientist Alice Laborte and the project leader noted that involving the right partners is very crucial to this initiative’s success.

The Forum on Agriculture, held at the New World Manila Bay Hotel, was part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of France and Philippines diplomatic relations. IRRI’s used the occasion as part of its commitment to share expertise to achieve food and nutrition security, improve the quality of life in rice-related communities, and protect the rice-growing environment for future generations.

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Rice industry stakeholders in Thailand learn about better postharvest management


On September 26-29, IRRI postharvest experts held training sessions in Chainat and Uttaradit provinces in Thailand. This training sought to improve rice quality through better postharvest technologies and practices. Participants were contract growers, rice mill owners, and machine operators.

Engineers Caling Balingbing and Joseph Sandro, IRRI mechanization and postharvest experts, conducted a 4-day training course for key stakeholders of the Kellogg’s-funded postharvest loss reduction project. This initiative aims to ensure high-quality rice for use in the company’s products. Techniques in rice harvesting systems were relayed through lectures and hands-on exercises, including basic operation and setting up the combine harvester to get an efficient output. Factors that affect the drying process were also discussed.

Engr. Balingbing showed the participants how to operate combine harvesters and explained the importance of correct machine settings in achieving the desired output. He also taught them how to measure losses from combine harvesting by using grain loss collection pads in the field.

“We hope that this training will equip the participants with the necessary skills and knowledge about the important principles of postharvest management of rice, particularly on combine harvesting and dryer operation," he noted. "This knowledge will help avoid huge losses of rice along the value chain. It will also help maintain the quality of milled rice products that reach the market, especially Kellogg’s customers.

Engr. Sandro discussed drying principles and talked about technical and environmental factors that affect drying. He also conducted a simple experiment that illustrated how different drying conditions affect rice quality.

Noppadol Saenpo, managing director of Asia Seed and Grain Production Co. Ltd., expressed his appreciation for the knowledge they gained and emphasized its role in enabling his staff to apply techniques in harvesting rice and minimizing losses in the field. “This training complements what the Thai Rice Department conducts whenever we have new staff ," he said.

The owner of Korat Yongsanguan Rice Mill remarked, “I am very much delighted upon knowing the process and conditions as to temperature and humidity to dry paddy with mechanical dryer to attain best quality of paddy for milling and storage.” He added that the knowledge he gained will be cascaded to his staff that are involved in rice mill operations.

In November and December, IRRI’s Mechanization and Postharvest Team will conduct two more training courses on storage and milling.

For more information about this initiative, contact the Mechanization and Postharvest Team at postharvest@irri.org.

Authors: Reianne Quilloy and Caling Balingbing

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Odisha rice farmers begin seed production training





One of IRRI’s most significant initiatives is to develop and distribute high-quality, high-yield seeds that can thrive in vulnerable environmental conditions. Working toward this mission, IRRI launched a project called “Increasing Production of Rice Based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income" in Odisha, India. This project aims to make high-quality seeds accessible in the region in order to raise rice productivity and farmers' income.

As part of the project, a training program on quality rice seed production and storage was held last 6 September in Puri, Odisha, in collaboration with local NGO Lutheran World Relief Services.

The training program will test and demonstrate the training modules for seed production and proper storage practices. Test results will be used to revise the existing modules on seed production, which farmers and other stakeholders can then use as a guide. The updated module will be distributed across Odisha, with IRRI aiming to reach 2,700 farmers in all 30 districts of the state.

Thirty-five delegates attended the training. Among the topics discussed by Dr. Survesh Shukla, Training and Communication Specialist, and his team were:
  • seed/grain quality,
  • seed cleaning and treatment
  • nursery preparation,
  • rouging at different crop stages, and
  • observations and actions needed at different production stages (i.e., harvesting, threshing, drying, postharvest, and storage).
Recommended seed cleaning and storage practices were also demonstrated to the participants. In addition, training materials, such as flipbooks and manuals, were distributed among the farmers. The flipbook is specifically designed for women, as the program also aims to enhance women's capacity and increase their involvement in the seed sector. Participants also engaged in an open forum wherein they shared their experiences, asked questions, and voiced their insights.

Other stakeholders such as Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), seed certification units, seed producers, and agriculture officials are expected to join the next round of trainings.

Authors: Manzoor H. Dar and Deepti Saksena 

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