Friday, November 28, 2014

Philippines: IRRI joins organizations in hosting study tour for the 6th National Biotechnology Education Conference for Teachers



A group of 36 teachers from different science high schools in Metro Manila, Cavite, Quezon, Laguna, Palawan, Camarines Sur, and Bulacan visited the laboratories and facilities at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Headquarters on 24 November as part of the 6th National Biotechnology Education Conference for Teachers (NBECT).

In addition to IRRI, the educators also visited the laboratories and facilities at National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and the Institute of Plant Breeding at University of the Philippines Los Banos. The tour also included film showings and discussions of issues related to biotechnology at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture. Two other collaborators for the study visit are the Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Diliman Foundation Inc.

NBECT is an activity held during the annual National Biotechnology Week commemorated on the last week of November. Now on its 10th  year, NBW is focusing on the promotion and advocacy on the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology.

This year’s year theme,  Edukasyon sa Bioteknolohiya: Pagyamanin para sa kinabukasan natin, (Harnessing biotechnology education for the future) highlights the need to strengthen biotechnology education and encourage more young people to take science, specifically agriculture and biotechnology courses in college, and eventually become part of the next generation of experts and scientists. This mission begins with enhancing the awareness and appreciation of science educators, and updates them on the R&D efforts and products of international and national biotech research institutions in the country.

"Agriculture is not only about farming," said Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director general for communication and partnerships at IRRI, during his welcome address for the teachers who are first-time visitors at the Institute. "We should not only teach our children the science behind producing food, but encourage them to become scientists and experts, who will later develop better crops and help address the challenges of climate change."

IRRI also collaborated with the University of the Philippines League of Agricultural Biotechnology Students in conducting Mag-BIOTECH Ka Na (Let's Take Up Biotechnology) a forum for students about potential careers in the field of agricultural biotechnology. The forum featured Filipino scientists who discussed their journeys towards "intellectually fulfilling" and fun careers in science and agriculture.

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Philippines: Riceworld Museum and Learning Center celebrates 20th anniversary with school children


The Riceworld Museum and Learning Center at the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) Headquarters celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting a fun, educational party for 60 students and teachers from five public schools in Bay and Los Baños, Laguna on 21 November.

The event, Riceworld@20: Where Rice is Twice as Nice, featured entertaining ​ interactive activities including storytelling, learning stations on rice and a healthy diet, a discussion on different insects found in rice fields, planting rice and rice sorting games, and making rice art.

Corinta Guerta, director of External Relations at IRRI, described Riceworld@20: Where Rice is Twice as Nice as the most important occasion of the year for the Events, Visitors and Exhibits Office at IRRI. She also expressed the Institute’s pleasure in celebrating the museum’s 20th anniversary with the children and their teachers.

“We are very proud to showcase artifacts from different countries who shared the vision of educating young children like you and attracting you to the career of science,” Ms. Guerta said. “It is IRRI’s hope that the children will become the next scientists and researchers, and that they will appreciate the importance of science and agriculture.”

The special event ended with the children sharing their newfound knowledge on rice farming, beneficial insects found in rice fields, eating a balanced diet, and an appreciation for the work of rice farmers around the world.  Photos

​Related links
Riceworld Museum and Learning Center celebrates 20th anniversary with public school students
Visit the Rice Museum

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Myanmar: Farmers discuss experiences in agricultural practices at village-level Learning Alliances in Maubin and Bogale townships

By Reianne Quilloy and Martin Gummert


The Learning Alliance (LA) team held village-level LA meetings at Maubin and Bogale Townships on 18 and 20 November, respectively. Facilitated by IRRI, the LA is a platform engaging different rice value chain actors and support service providers including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), government agencies, private enterprise, and non-government organizations to share and develop agricultural practices in areas identified by different stakeholders in rice value chain in Myanmar. Funded by the Livelihoods for Food Security Trust Fund (LiFT) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), fifty-four participants attended the 4th village-level LA meeting at the Department of Agriculture office in Maubin Township. The group reviewed topics on crop variety and marketing conducted in 2013. They also identified the important lessons they learned from these activities. The meeting also opened opportunities for discussion between farmers who tried the rice and pulse varieties. The group identified fertilizers, marketing, and reliable seed sources as the topics for their next learning meeting.

About 40 people from the four project villages attended the 5th LA village-level meeting in Bogale Township with LiFT partners from GRET, Welthungerhilfe, Radanar Ayar, and Proximity Designs. Taking stock of the previous learning agenda, the group discussed what they have learned from the market visit to Bayint Naung and Wardan market in May. Some farmers who tried using the IRRI flatbed dryer and stored grains using GRET’s communal storage also shared about their experience. The Bogale LA group identified producing improved rice quality through good drying practices and use the communal storage facility for the next meeting. Members will also try to sell their produce in Yangon market.

“The Learning Alliance brings out the potential from the village in terms of improving their rice quality and linking to better markets,” Martin Gummert,  a postharvest expert at IRRI and lead scientist for the Postharvest and Learning Alliance, remarked about the progress of the learning activities since 2013.  “It can serve as a model for other villages in Myanmar.

“But it also improves the project’s learning process; we will learn a lot from the participants, and we (IRRI project team) will have an idea what to do next,” he added.


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Myanmar: IRRI-designed threshers introduced in Maubin and Bogale Townships to reduce postharvest losses

By Reianne Quilloy and Martin Gummert


The Learning Alliance (LA) platform conducted an overview of the TC-600 lightweight thresher, designed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), to show how postharvest losses can be reduced in Maubin and Bogale Townships on 18 and 20 November.  IRRI postharvest specialist Christopher Cabardo, Assistant Scientist-Agricultural Engineering Yan Lin Aung, and consultant for LiFT and ACIAR project Dr. Myo Aung Kyaw provided the lecture and demonstration and shared IRRI’s initiative to assess and reduce postharvest losses and add value to rice.

During the event, the participants had the chance to examine the thresher and assess its performance. The Postharvest team answered questions from the farmers and manufacturers regarding the technical specifications and cost of the thresher. They also provided feedback where they think the equipment could be improved.

Threshing right after harvesting is crucial to prevent postharvest losses but Myanmar farmers often delay their threshing activities for several weeks due to lack of suitable threshers. Threshers that are available locally are heavy, cumbersome, and do not work well with wet crop.

The activity was funded by the LiFT and ACIAR project.


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Philippines: IRRI participates in power consumption reduction scheme during periods of energy crisis in 2015



Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and deputy director generals Norman Macdonald and Bruce Tolentino signed an agreement to participate in the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) on 20 November at the IRRI Headquarters.

Under the program, developed by the Energy Regulatory Commission, power consumers with large loads like commercial establishments agree to voluntary operate their own generator sets during periods of power generation deficiency to reduce demand and ensure the availability of supply. Full or partial deloading to reduce power consumption for certain periods will help mitigate imminent power outages expected to occur in the dry season of 2015. IRRI has committed to reduce its load by up to a total 3.7 mega watts.

MERALCO was represented by its Vice President and Head of Corporate Business Group Victor Genuino, and Head of Public Sector Relationship Management Geralyn Solidum.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Philippines: Carbohydrate metabolism expert from Rothamsted Research joins the November Young Researchers Lunch

 
The Young Researchers' Lunch for November hosted Matthew Paul, a plant biologist at Rothamsted Research, UK. Dr. Paul, who also visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to present a seminar on his research on trehalose signaling, discussed various aspects of signaling pathways, biochemical analysis, and the use of transgenics for understanding biochemical pathways in plants with IRRI researchers.

Participants were Zilhas Jewel, Shanta Karki, Ronald Tapia, Anca Macovei, Niteen Kumar, and Akshaya Biswal.

The Young Researchers Lunch is a monthly meeting for NRS and AFSTRI scientists who are in the early stages of their career. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for discussions with senior scientists on a range of topics including science and career paths.


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Philippines: Riceworld Museum and Learning Center celebrates 20th anniversary with public school students


The Riceworld Museum and Learning Center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Headquarters is holding Riceworld@20: Where Rice is Twice as Nice, a special event for students from selected public elementary schools in Bay and Los Baños, Laguna on 21 November 2014. The event will include interactive sessions on health and nutrition, insects found in the rice fields, rice games, rice art making, and story-telling activities.

Riceworld@20: Where Rice is Twice as Nice is part of Riceworld Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration and in commemoration of Rice Awareness Month (November) highlighting the value of rice as the country’s staple, and promoting the Philippine government’s efforts to increase rice production.


The Riceworld Museum and Learning Center presents information on rice, rice culture, and  IRRI's research outputs to give the public a better appreciation of rice and its importance in the survival of billions of people, its role in the culture of many countries, and its significance as form of livelihood for millions of rice-farming families.

The museum opened its doors in 1994 and welcomed more than 30,000 visitors on its first year. Today, it has hosted a total of more than 1 million visitors comprised of farmers, dignitaries, scientists, tourists, and the general public. Majority of its visitors are students, who make up 80% of its audience, making it one of the top educational centers in the province.

Come visit the Riceworld Museum and Learning Center 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Philippines: RMQA-RDM Training Team holds last data management course for 2014


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Risk Management and Quality Assurance Research Data Management (RMQA-RDM) training team concluded its last RDM 101 course for the year on 18-20 November at the IT Learning Center at IRRI Headquarters.

This quarterly training covers all areas of data management including planning: documentation; collection;  pre-analysis  using MS Access for data transformation as pre-analysis in statistical software;  validation and quality control; using bar codes in experiments; using  mobile devices in collecting data; data storage backup, and security; and archival and sharing.

In addition, the RDM 101 training team also discussed and demonstrated file management tools and software that include: Beyond Compare, Cobian, WinDirStat, Mendeley, Beyond Compare, and IRRI Dataverse, an online repository for data archiving and sharing.

Seventeen participants from IRRI country offices in Africa; Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology; Crop and Environmental Sciences Division; C4 Rice Center; Grain Quality and Nutrition Center; and Social Sciences Division (SSD) attended the three-day training course.  Joining them were five participants from WorldFish, Ifugao State University, Department of Agriculture, Central Mindanao University, and Kalinga Apayao State College.

The RDM 101 training team, managed by IRRI-RMQA Senior Manager Menchu Bernardo, includes  Mr. Enrico Mercado and Mr. Deacart Arreza. Mr. Rogelio Alvarez of Information Technology Services  provided a lecture on data backup, security, and storage.


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Rice scholars recognized by Illinois University for excellent academic performance


Nirmal Sharma (Bangladesh), Pradeepa Hirannaiah (India), Lenie Quiatchon-Baeza (Philippines), Hung Bui (Vietnam), and Parthiban Thathapalli Prakash (India), all graduate fellows under the Lee Foundation Rice Scholarship Program, were recognized for making it to the top 15 percent of the graduate class in the College of Agriculture, Crop Science and Environmental Science (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana (UIUC)-Champaign during the Graduate Fellowship Awarding Ceremony at the UIUC Alumni Center on 6 November.

“It just feels great to have our small unit of IRRI family here away from home,” says Ms. Baeza, who is currently doing her research on crop genetics and molecular biology to gain better understanding of the effects of stress brought about by climate change on different grain quality traits.

The Lee Foundation Rice Scholarship Program aims to educate and train a new generation of young rice scientists and researcher to help feed Asia. This exciting new program offers young Asians a unique opportunity to gain excellent education from reputable academic institutions. It is anticipated that they will be part of a new science leadership in the region and build key partnerships in the coming decades.


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Philippines: Volunteers from IRRI and other organizations plant 200 trees for a community restoration project


Staff members from the Communication Unit and Partnership Office of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) joined other volunteers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Rotary Club of West Bay, and the local government of Barangay Tuntungin Putho in planting 200 trees during the second phase of the Bitukang Manok Creek Restoration project on 15 November.

The restoration project is a collaborative effort among community members in Tuntungin Putho to prevent flooding at the creek site. The area is home to around ninety families who are at risk of being displaced by floods caused by heavy rains. The first phase of the restoration project was held on 23 August when around 150 volunteers and residents cleared the site of debris and weeds in preparation for the tree planting.

IRRI, through the Partnerships Office-Philippines Desk, continues to support development activities in neighboring communities as part of its commitment to strengthen ties with local and national communities and local government in its host country.


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Philippines: AISAS celebrates 30th anniversary with photo exhibit of its activities through the years


The Association of International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) Secretaries and Administrative Staff (AISAS) celebrates its 30th anniversary with Supporting success through excellent service, a photo exhibit documenting some of its activities from 1984 to present, at the Breezeway in Harrar Hall at IRRI Headquarters.

The opening of the exhibit was graced by Bas Bouman, director of Global Rice Science Partnership,and Ms. Mishel Ciceron, AISAS 2014 president. Dr. Bouman emphasized the importance of secretaries and administrative staff in a dynamic science community like IRRI. The photo exhibit will run until 20 November.

In addition to the exhibit, AISAS 30th anniversary celebration includes the following activities:


Seminar on Principles and Best Practices in Event Management
Ms. Ruth Ann FelisminoSeminar Room, Harrar Hall
19 November


AISAS Ribbon Making Workshop
CESD Conference Room 1, DL Umali Building
27 November

Think Outside the Bottle
Tzu Chi Foundation Activity
28 November

AISAS Night: Acoustic Jamming
3 December

AISAS was formed primarily to provide professional and personal growth for its members, represent its members within and outside IRRI, contribute to the well being of IRRI, and actively participate and cooperate with other sectoral organizations in the pursuit of common goals.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Philippines: IRRI conducts training in ORYZA 3 rice modeling tool for advanced applications in rice research


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center held a training program for the use of the ORYZA 3 rice modeling tool for advanced application studies at IRRI Headquarters on 10-14 November. The training aims to improve and extend the skills of researchers in using ORYZA 3 for managing large scale simulations, climate change studies​, evaluation of ​breeding lines, and crop management optimization.

ORYZA 3 is the latest version of the modeling tool which simulates growth and development of rice under wider range of environments after thorough testing of hypotheses through field experiments, extrapolating observed data through simulations, and converting simulation results to decisions through practical information. It was calibrated and validated for 18 popular rice varieties in 15 locations throughout Asia.

The training was attended by participants from Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Uruguay, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and IRRI.

The ORYZA 3 training was conducted by Tao Li, Ando Radanielson, Olivyn Angeles, Man Marcaida, and Mahlie Manalo, with Lolit Adriano as secretary.


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Philippines: Iloilo farmers share their views on ecological engineering with scientists at IRRI/DA-BAR Open Day

By Finbarr G. Horgan


Over 100 farmers visited the Western Visayas Agricultural Research Center (WESTVIARC) at Jaro, Iloilo to discuss ecological engineering as an environmentally friendly pest management strategy for rice  during the International Rice Research Institute and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (IRRI/DA-BAR) Open Day on 6 November 2014.

Ecological engineering is a management strategy to build diversity which strengthens the rice field’s natural capacity to cope with pests. It includes the growing of vegetables on bunds to increase habitat diversity which can be a source of additional income as well contribute to better nutrition of farming households.

The farmers visited ecological engineering field plots where the Center's manager Corazon Arroyo  and Virginia Agreda, a researcher at  WESTVIARC, explained the concept of ecological engineering. The group then attended a presentation by IRRI researcher James Villegas and viewed a video on the ecological dynamics behind the method by Dr. Buyung Hadi, an IRRI entomologist.

During an open forum the farmers had an opportunity to ask questions and give their recommendations for and reactions to ecological engineering practices. Farmers’ feedbacks were also documented in a survey designed by IRRI and the DA and conduced by WESTVIARC staff.

The Open Day was organized by WESTVIARC together with IRRI entomologists and ecologists. This was the fourth in a series of open days funded by DA-BAR, the Global Rice Science Partnership, and the German Ministry of Education and Science as part of the LEGATO Project


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Philippines Rice Awareness Month launched


The Philippine Department of Agriculture launched Rice Awareness Month, 10 November 2014, to highlight the value of rice as the country’s staple, and promote government efforts to increase rice production.

President Benigno Aquino III signed Proclamation 524, declaring November as Rice Awareness Month, putting to fore the partnerships and programs aimed at increasing the country’s rice productivity.

"Science has been a crucial part in our efforts to be food secure,” said Secretary Proceso Alcala. “We determined underlying problems and corresponding solutions to achieving this through studies conducted by our partners at IRRI and Philrice.”

IRRI Deputy Director General V. Bruce J. Tolentino gave tribute to IRRI and the DA’s strong and long-standing partnership.  “The research that happens at IRRI cannot happen without this partnership. The first seeds and the first attempts at bringing technology to the farmers, start in the Philippines, with the DA,” said Dr. Tolentino.

Dr. Tolentino also noted that IRRI and DA’s collaboration has been strongest under Sec. Alcala's stewardship of DA. “No one can dispute that in the last 3-4 years, the Philippines has been the fastest growing country in Asia in terms of rice yield.”

DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Edilberto de Luna hopes that every Filipino practices responsible consumption of rice to reduce wastage. “Our effort to optimize domestic rice production is two pronged: increase productivity, and reduce wastage. We also encourage all Filipinos to eat brown rice, and other `pigmented` rice, which have been proven to be more nutritious than white rice.”

The RAM puts focus on the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), seven-project strong partnership between DA and IRRI with the objective to meet the domestic requirements of the country, aims to strengthen national resilience to impacts of climate change. To address the challenges of increasing adoption of yield-enhancing technologies, improving the delivery of extension and research services, and strengthening the capacities of concerned public institutions.

Featured in the RAM launching exhibit are two of the seven areas of collaboration under FSSP. These are the Heirloom Rice Project, and the Next Generation Rice Project. The heirloom project seeks to provide assistance to heirloom rice farmers in enhancing their productivity and linkage to market, while Next-Gen will help accelerate the development and adoption of higher-yielding varieties and hybrids with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.


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Philippines: IRRI opens Rice Survivor Season 4

Jerome Cayton Barradas


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center opened the 4th season of its own “reality show”, Rice Survivor (RS4), on 12 November 2014 at MS Swaminathan Hall, IRRI Headquarters, Philippines. Rice Survivor is a season-long, hands-on, seed-to-seed training on rice production and farm management.

“Rice Survivor gives IRRI staff a first-hand experience of the challenges faced by rice farmers,” said Dr. Noel Magor, head of the Training Center. “It is also an opportunity for different employees in various divisions to interact and work together to build a culture at IRRI, that we are about rice.”

Jason Beebout, a consultant at IRRI and RS4’s coordinator gave an overview of the exercise. Dr. Beebout, a “survivor” from the previous seasons, shared his own experiences with the new batch of participants. “I came face-to-face with rice production challenges,” he said. “I saw rice production as a season-long process and not just individual activities. It boosted my rice production knowledge and it sparked my appreciation for farm workers.”

The opening session was attended by 12 participants from the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division, and the Training Center who will be grouped into teams. Each team will cultivate a crop of rice on an assigned plot. They will be tasked with selecting the rice variety to plant, land preparation, crop management, harvesting, and post-harvest processing. The teams' performance will be evaluated based on yield, environmental sustainability, and profitability.

RS4 is still accepting participants until 14 November.  For more information please contact RS4 facilitator Majilene Marikit at m.marikit@irri.org

For other training opportunities please visit www.training.irri.org or e-mail us at IRRITraining@irri.org.


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Philippines: IRRI Training conducts course on science communication and writing for scientific journals

Jerome Cayton Barradas


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center is conducting the Basic Scientific Writing Course (BSWC) from 10-14 November 2014 at MS Swaminathan Hall, IRRI Headquarters, Philippines.

BSWC is a five-day course that helps develop skills in organizing a scientific paper and in preparing each part of the paper to communicate scientific information effectively. The course includes scientific writing, basics of science communication, outlining, preparing abstracts, writing the scientific paper, preparing references, and putting it all together into manuscripts appropriate for submission to journals.
Attending the course are sixteen participants, composed of specialists, scientists, researchers, IRRI collaborators, and members of the academe, from Bangladesh, India, Philippines, and Vietnam.

BSWC is coordinated by Maria Socorro S. Arboleda, senior specialist at the Training Center.

The course will be offered again in November 2015. For more information and other training opportunities, visit www.training.irri.org or email IRRITraining@irri.org.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Community news: IRRI promotes nutrition education in Los Baños and Bay


The Partnerships Office of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has partnered with municipal nutrition action officers, IRRI spouses (SUHAY), Rotary Club of West Bay, and the Rotary Club of Los Baños to sponsor Pabasa sa Nutrisyon, a nutrition education program for IRRI's host communities of Los Baños and Bay. Pabasa sa Nutrisyon is a major project of the National Nutrition Council of the Philippines to prevent protein-energy and micronutrient deficiency among low-income families. The program focuses on nutrition education among women who are pregnant or lactating as well as mothers with underweight and malnourished children, and those with children in preschools and primary schools.

The 5-day activities include public readings of Nutri-Guide and sharing of personal experiences on meal planning and cooking. It also uses fun learning activities such as interactive games, exercises, and demonstrations to strengthen nutrition messages and encourage the participation of mothers. The Partnerships Office and the co-sponsors of the program will also continue to support the monitoring and evaluation of the weight increases among malnourished and underweight infants and children.

From July to November 2014, Pabasa sa Nutrisyon activies were held in Bayog, Anos, and Batong Malake in Los Baños, and Tranca, Sta. Cruz, Bitin, Puypuy, Masaya, and Paciano Rizal in Bay. IRRI plans to sponsor the program in all the barangays in both towns as part of its commitment to promote nutrition education.


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IRRI scientists play leading roles in the joint CRPs CGIAR conference on 'Unlocking the production potential of the Ganges coastal zone'



The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) conference on Revitalizing the Ganges Coastal Zone attracted leaders of development projects, donors, government policymakers, NGOs, and researchers from local and international research institutes. The participants shared plans, progress and ideas for unlocking the potential of the coastal zone. 

Several scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) played key roles in organizing the conference. Dr. Manoranjan Mondal, collaborative research scientist under the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division and the Social Sciences Division of IRRI, chaired the organizing committee. Dr. Liz Humphreys, lead of the Water Science Group at IRRI, chaired the science program committee. 

The first day of the conference featured the participation of policymakers led by Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Honorable Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources. With him were Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan, secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and Dr. Shelina Afroza, secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Director General of Bangladesh Water Development Board Md. Shahidur Rahman chaired the event. Other highlights included presentations from some of the large development projects operating in the coastal zone, presentations on the messages from the CPWF project by former IRRI scientist Dr. T.P. Tuong, and by Dr. Humphreys and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) researcher Dr. Marie-Charlotte Buisson, and "Voices from the Coastal Zone" (messages from local government representatives and farmers from the coastal zone).

This was followed by a two-day science conference which attracted over 100 participants who showed keen interest right to the end. Papers were presented on a range of topics including the past, current and future status of coastal zone water resources, the coastal environment, and water governance;  opportunities for improving agricultural, aquacultural, and homestead production systems; and technology/cropping system extrapolation domains. Two IRRI scholars won prizes for their presentations - Nibir Saha (PhD scholar) was awarded the best early career scientist oral presentation by a panel of four judges, and Nefaur Rahman (MSc scholar) received the best poster award (people's vote).

The conference was jointly sponsored by the CGIAR Programs on Water, Land and Ecosystems, Aquatic Agricultural Systems, and the Global Rice Science Partnership. The conference, held in Dhaka on 21-23 October, also served as the official launch of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems’ Ganges Focal Region program. The conference proceedings, a peer-reviewed collection of about 40 papers, will be published in early 2015.


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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Investment in temperate rice research pays dividends


Dr. Jong-Min Jeong and Dr. Russell Reinke at the Korean Rural Development Administration's Chuncheon sub-station, where rice is tested under cold water treatment.


BANGKOK, Thailand - “Their investments are paying off,” says Dr. Russell Reinke, head of the Temperate Rice Research Consortium (TRRC), referring to the support given by the Korean Rural Development Association (RDA). RDA is the consortium's primary investor.

Temperate rice is generally grown in regions with long days and lower temperatures than the tropics, at latitudes greater than 23.5° south or north. Areas that produce this type of rice are widely dispersed around the world, making regular scientific interaction a big challenge.

RDA’s funding made TRRC possible, as well as the recent research developments and breakthroughs on temperate rice. In recent years, there has been an increased sharing of germplasm among partners. TRRC now has 22 member-countries. Because of the isolation of some temperate regions, it’s also crucial to have a reason for temperate rice regions to come together and share research developments.

Key results on sustainability, cold tolerance, and grain quality were presented during the 5th Temperate Rice Conference (TRC5), integrated this time around into the science program of the 4th International Rice Congress or IRC2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

TRC5 is seen as a way of educating the tropical researchers about the extent and diversity of rice-production regions (e.g., temperate rice).


“This conference has provided a venue for us to interact. Just as RDA’s investment is paying dividends, I hope that the effort that researchers have made to come here will also pay dividends for them,” adds Dr. Reinke.

Since its creation, TRRC has accomplished more through collaborative research aimed at increasing rice production in temperate and high altitude regions, as well as overcome constraints to better yield and quality of temperate rice.

Among several constraints that limit rice production in temperate areas is low temperature. It affects several million hectares of rice cultivation area in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South and North America resulting in annual yield losses. In addition, low temperature at the seedling stage damages boro rice production in Bangladesh and in high-altitude regions of Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Nepal.

Also, biotic stresses such as blast and bacterial blight are problems in areas with lower temperature---a disease-conducive environment in temperate as well as high-altitude regions.

Even though temperate japonica rice occupies only 20% of the rice cultivation area worldwide, the decline in its production is a major cause of food insecurity.

Thus, research and sharing of information through TRRC play important roles in understanding how yield potential can be increased in temperate areas.

~
Around 1,500 participants from 69 countries are attending the 4th International Rice Congress, or IRC2014, at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

IRC2014 is being held under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and is touted as the “Olympics of rice science,” being the largest gathering of rice science and industry held every four years. 

For more information: ricecongress.com 

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Coastal Bangladesh can be twice more productive



IRRI Photos/Flickr


BANGKOK, Thailand - Land and water productivity in the polders of coastal Bangladesh have tremendous potential to be improved, profitable, and resilient to problems brought about by climate change. This was IRRI collaborative scientist Manoranjan Mondal's take-off point during his symposium presentation at the 4th International Rice Congress, or IRC2014 on 31 October 2014.

More than 130 polders in the country were constructed in the 1950s-60s to prevent tidal flooding and saline water intrusion. Despite enormous investment, land productivity remains low and water resources underutilized.

To unlock the productivity potential in the polders, Mondal argued for investment in improved water management, with special emphasis on drainage and infrastructure. He also discussed the need to organize community-based resource management and link water users with the production system. He said that improving drainage in polders will increase fresh water availability during the dry season. Moreover, drainage must also be able to avoid prolonged flooding during the aman crop, and allow salt to leach from the shrimp farm prior to transplanting the aman crop.

Mondal also reported that trials in farmers’ fields from July 2011 to August 2014 under the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food suggest that, in coastal areas with low and medium salinity, land productivity can be increased two- to three-fold by adopting suitable high-yielding rice and rabi crops, and improved water management practices.

In areas where water salinity is too high for rice production during the dry season, productivity of brackish water shrimp farming can increase by at least two-fold by replacing shrimp monoculture with more resilient shrimp-fish polyculture grown in rotation with salt-tolerant rice, plus fish, during the rainy season.


The polders of the coastal zone of Bangladesh are home to the world’s poorest, 80% of whom live on US$1.25/day or less. They depend mainly on agriculture and aquaculture for their livelihoods. These are some of the marginal areas that were left behind during the Green Revolution of the 1960s-70s. 

These coastal areas are prone to flooding and salinity, lack access to fresh water, and are vulnerable to sea-level rise. Productivity in these areas is so low that farmers usually grow one crop per year using low-yielding traditional rice varieties and most of such land areas remain fallow during the dry season. 

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Around 1,500 participants from 69 countries are attending the 4th International Rice Congress, or IRC2014, at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

IRC2014 is being held under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and is touted as the “Olympics of rice science,” being the largest gathering of rice science and industry held every four years. 

For more information: ricecongress.com 

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