Friday, July 14, 2017

Cambodia: Increasing farmers’ income with rice straw

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Sustainable rice straw management practices in Cambodia can enhance using the byproduct to significantly increase farmers’ income. On 5-6 July, this was examined during a roundtable meeting and workshop on building potential business models for the rice straw supply chain in the country.

Asia & Africa: Improving skills on technology transfer systems

Participants during one of their field trips during the 2-week technology transfer workshop.

Jerome Cayton Barradas facilitates the discussion on the use of ICTs in communicating agricultural information.

It is important to develop the capacities of Asian and African countries for effective knowledge dissemination and technology transfer, according to Peter Brothers, head of IRRI Education. To help achieve this, IRRI Education, the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of the Republic of Korea, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) facilitated a training workshop on technology transfer systems in Asia, 26 June-7 July, at the International Technology Cooperation Center, RDA Headquarters, Jeonju, Republic of Korea.

Twenty-three participants from Cambodia, Côte D’Ivoire, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam joined the 2-week course, which focused on rice production technologies for breeding, pest management, post-production, and developing successful rice-extension linkages.

The workshop also involved developing an understanding of the skills needed by modern rural extension agents including an appreciation of the benefits of information and communication technologies. At the end of the workshop, the trainees created and  presented work plans that they intend to implement in their countries.
During the closing program, Chhourn Orn, a participant from Cambodia, thanked RDA and IRRI for organizing the workshop. “After being introduced to new technologies, we can now deal with problems and issues when we go back home”, he added. In addition, Ngozika Fanny Okorie, a trainee from Nigeria, said that the workshop has been very informative and helpful and that she looks forward to carrying and sharing these with others upon her return home.

“In 2017, the workshop accepted trainees from African countries for the first time as a means of expanding the program’s reach,” said Dr. Brothers. FAO supported the attendance of the participants from Africa. Since its initial offering in 2002, the training workshop has produced almost 300 graduates from 15 countries in Asia and now Africa as well.

This year’s workshop was designed and facilitated by Maria Socorro Arboleda (IRRI Education) with Dr. Brothers, Carlito Balingbing (Crop and Environmental Sciences Division), and Jerome Cayton Barradas (Integrative Impact Division).

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Odisha & IRRI review their collaborative research

BHUBANESWAR, Odisha - Seeds of climate-resilient rice varieties, cost-effective management technologies, and innovative extension approaches are among the advances that are making significant inroads to improve rice production in the Indian state of Odisha on the country’s eastern coast. This was revealed during the first annual review workshop of the collaborative program between Odisha and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), held 23 May.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WateRice: New joint Philippine-IRRI water project kicks off

With the goal to achieve a rice-secure Philippines, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) is working with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on various initiatives and interventions to improve the country’s rice productivity, the latest involving water use efficiency.

Experts chart future pathways for the rice straw market in Vietnam

Rice experts gathered to chart future pathways for the rice straw market. The IRRI -BMZ rice straw project is investigating
 ways to find new market outlets and developing value chains for rice straw.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Upgrading rice value chains to make them more sustainable involves identifying new markets for the byproducts that are generated along the way. Technological upgrading in rice farming, for example, can bring in new challenges. While mechanized rice harvesting eliminates the back-breaking work of traditional harvesting, accomplishing it in a shorter time leaves even more straw to dispose of. Instead of burning the straw, developing a value chain for the straw itself can be achieved by finding new market outlets for the byproduct.

Knowledge-sharing platform to be established in Bangladesh’s coastal zone

To improve the livelihoods of communities through improved food production systems in the Coastal Zone of Bangladesh, there is a need for establishing a knowledge-sharing platform (KSP). It would bring together the information coming out of various research-for-development (R4D) projects on agriculture, aquaculture, and water management.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bill Smith, former IRRI editor, passes away (updated 15 June 2017)

By Gene Hettel

William H. “Bill” Smith, 84, former science editor at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), passed away on 4 June in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Bill attended Iowa State University on the GI Bill, and received a degree in Scientific Journalism.

The Oklahoma native began as an IRRI editor in the then Office of Information Services in 1979 (later to become Communication and Publications Services) and remained there until his retirement in 1991. He continued as a consultant for a brief time in 1992-93.

His 12-year tenure on the communication staff was during the heyday of scientific publishing at the Institute when there was production of numerous field guides for farmers and extensionists in local languages and cutting-edge scientific monographs. He was a member of the editorial team that produced Robert F. Chandler’s seminal work, An Adventure in Applied Science: A History of the International Rice Research Institute.

Bill has many good friends at IRRI who still remember him 28 years after his retirement. His compassion, council, wisdom, and humor are legendary. He affectionately earned the moniker “Coach” Smith for his intense and sometimes controversial coaching of IRRI’s international staff softball team during the 1980s.  

In his IRRI Pioneer Interview in June 2008, he pondered IRRI’s future challenges: “I think the biggest challenge is pretty much the lack of funding that all the institutes are feeling. Another thing that was true 12, 15, and 25 years ago is that population is still growing and, as it does, land comes out of production. Even though yields can go up to increase production, they don’t seem to be keeping up with population. Fertilizer and water, I think, are going to be the biggest challenges that IRRI, or for that matter any of the agricultural research institutes, will face and should be working on in the future.”

Also, during his interview, he stated, “I spent a year and a half working as a news reporter and photographer at a daily newspaper in northern Iowa [Fort Dodge Messenger]. Then, I spent 3 years working as an educational representative with a medical and biological publishing house [Saunders Publishing in St. Louis, Missouri]. Then, I worked as a physical science technical editor at the Ames Laboratory, affiliated with Iowa State University. However, working at IRRI was the best professional experience of my life. This weekend [8 June 2008], we are at Michigan State University attending, I think, the fourth reunion of former and present IRRI staff. I can’t think of any other institution that has its employees get together in a manner that generates such a feeling of camaraderie. So, IRRI does have to rank at the top.”

Bill was a long-time member of the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE). Upon his retirement, he was awarded life membership in the organization.

He liked a quote from Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, the ancient Roman rhetorician (c. 35-100 AD): “We should not write so that it is possible for the reader to understand us, but so that it is impossible for him to misunderstand us.”

Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marlene, five children: Stephen of St. Ignatius, Montana; David and wife Shirley of Mingo, Iowa; Meric Shipman of Springfield, Illinois; Stacie and husband Gary of Des Moines, Iowa; and Lisa and husband Jeff Ruppel of Dubuque, Iowa. Other survivors include eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

On 13 June, a memorial mass was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and Parish in Tortugas. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico, PO Box 13826, Las Cruces, NM 88013.

Those who would like to send condolences and memories to his wife, Marlene, can use Bill's email address:

Read more about Bill's life.

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