Monday, March 19, 2018

Golden Rice gains health and safety nod from Health Canada

Health Canada has notified the International Rice Research Institute that it has no objection to the food use of Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E (Golden Rice). The Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of this rice event according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods, which are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of foods with novel traits.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Paving the way for sustainable rice production in Asian countries

Farmers from Chainat Province share their experiences about using Laser Leveling. “Before, we experience lodging. After using Laser Leveling, I noticed an improvement in my crops and there was less lodging,” said Mr. Chaleaw Noiseang
IRRI together with strong collaboration with national partners, is implementing innovative pathways to alleviate poverty and promote gender equity by optimizing productivity and environmental sustainability of irrigated rice production systems. The Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP-PRO) project, which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), brought together national partners from eight countries during its annual meeting to discuss key outcomes for 2017 and to plan activities for the next year.

“In 2017, the best management practices promoted by CORIGAP have currently reached more than 375,000 farmers across the six target countries (China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam), with yield increase ranging from 14 to 30%,” according to Grant Singleton, IRRI Principal Scientist and CORIGAP project coordinator. “With this exciting outcome, we will hear how each country has progressed and their plans for future initiatives to take us closer to our target in 2020 of reaching 500,000 farmers,” he added.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Giving Cambodia Youth a taste of rice science

His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron, Ambassadors Heidt and Longhurst graciously took time to join the taste test

IRRI collaborates with USAID in engaging the youth into rice science while showcasing IRRI’s innovation and leadership in breeding, varietal development, climate change adaptation, and yield gap reduction.

The fourth Cambodia Science and Engineering Festival was a large celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. During the three-day event, the IRRI Cambodia Team engaged more than a thousand students and other young professionals through various interactive activities highlighting rice science.

Agriculture Minister, key stakeholders praise progress of Golden Rice in Bangladesh

March 6 2018 - DHAKA, BANGLADESH – “Bangladesh will march forward on Golden Rice” said H.E. Matia Chowdhury, Minister of Agriculture for Bangladesh as she acknowledged the positive impact of biotech crops and their potential to help Bangladesh meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030. 

“Inspired by the success of the country's first commercially released biotech crop in 2013, Bangladesh is now field testing three more crops developed through applications of agro-biotechnology, including Golden Rice. The government has every intention to support genetically modified crop cultivation in the future.” says Chowdhury.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Scaling-up opportunities for unfavorable rice environments

Centering around the theme: “Capitalizing on gains made: Towards enhanced nutrition, livelihood, and equity in unfavorable rice ecosystems,” the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) through the project, Reducing Risks and Raising Rice Livelihoods in Southeast Asia, held a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand on February 21-22.

Led by IRRI Regional Representative to Southeast Asia, David Johnson, and IRRI Theme Leader for Equitable Innovation, Ranjitha Puskur,  consortium partners from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the workshop’s plenary sessions, discussions and brainstorming activities to reflect on the outcomes and learning, major successes and gaps, distill implications for succeeding plans by building on key learning, and articulate a new vision for the future.

IRRI, Paul Hastings LLP collaborate to strengthen legal agreements with private organizations

IRRI extends its gratitude to Paul Hastings LLP for its excellent work in helping the Institute improve its templates of legally binding agreements with private organizations, and ensure that our public-private partnerships deliver impact acceleration that benefit smallholder rice farmers, in a way that is fully aligned with our vision and our mission.

Since 2016, Paul Hastings has provided pro bono representation to IRRI on a number of framework agreements, including licensing of IRRI-owned intellectual property and products, with several seed and agro-supply companies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dr. Krishna Joshi appointed as IRRI Representative in Nepal

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Krishna Joshi as the Institute’s representative in Nepal, effective 12 February 2018. Dr. Joshi will lead the Institute’s key initiatives in the country and will serve as the focal person for all endeavours in strengthening IRRI’s partnership with key stakeholders.

Dr. Joshi is an agricultural scientist specializing in plant genetics, crop improvement, seed systems and value chains. With over two decades of experience in the agri-sector, he has led several key agricultural Research for Development (R4D) projects in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India, pertaining to rice and other staple crops. Having worked in multi-disciplinary settings at international research and development organizations, civil society and private sector organizations, he is uniquely positioned to leverage his knowledge and skills in furthering IRRI’s mission to improve livelihoods and nutrition, and abolish poverty, hunger, and malnutrition among those who depend on rice-based agri-food systems.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton receives Crop Trust Legacy Award

IRRI congratulates Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the International Rice Genebank, for receiving the Crop Trust Legacy Award. Dr. Hamilton is one of the seven award recipients recognized as “global gatekeepers” for their efforts and outstanding contribution in the field of plant genetic resources conservation. In a video about the Legacy Awardees, Marie Haga, Executive Director of Crop Trust, said “[the awardees have] diligently prepared seeds for the world for years. They have done a tremendous job for human kind by safeguarding the foundation of our food”.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dr. Buyung Hadi appointed as IRRI's representative in Cambodia

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Buyung Hadi as the Institute’s representative in Cambodia, effective 1 March 2018. He will lead IRRI’s key initiatives in the country and will serve as the focal person for activities that strengthen IRRI’s partnership with key stakeholders in Cambodia.

Dr. Hadi is an entomologist that specializes in insect ecology and integrated pest management (IPM). He currently leads the pest ecology research group at IRRI, that focuses on obtaining solutions in conservation and augmentative biocontrol, pest adaptation on resistant varieties, non-target impact of insecticide application, and insecticide resistance.

He lends his expertise to numerous projects initiated by IRRI in Cambodia, including Development of Ecologically-based Participatory IPM Package for rice in Cambodia (EPIC) and Closing Rice Yield Gap in Asia (CORIGAP). He contributed to the pest management and pesticide use standards for the Sustainable Rice Platform, and leads a team that developed  and launched a smartphone application on field crop IPM guide.

Dr. Hadi received his Doctorate Degree in Entomology from Auburn University, USA in 2009. Since then, he has obtained and managed over 4 million USD in grants and contracts from international, US federal, regional, and state agencies. In 2017, he co-authored the book “Rice insect pests and their management”,  a comprehensive global treatise on rice insect pests.

For more information about the IRRI-Cambodia partnership, click here

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Stakeholders evaluate the impact of Alternate Wetting and Drying Technology in Bangladesh

Irrigated rice in Bangladesh accounts for nearly half of the country’s rice output. However variability in rainfall, dry spells, depleting water table and water scarcity for agriculture pose a challenge in achieving food security for its 163 million people. The FAO estimates rice production in Bangladesh to be at a five-year low of 50.8 million tonnes in 2017, 2 per cent below the 2016 outcome. This may result to a sharp spike in rice prices in the country. Adding to the burden of increasing cost is the rising cost of irrigation, electricity, fuel and labor.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Gazette notification of Golden Rice approval by FSANZ

GR2E Golden Rice passes FSANZ safety standards.
The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has been amended to include food derived from provitamin A rice line GR2E (Golden Rice), a beta-carotene biofortified genetically modified (GM) rice under development at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  The publication of the Food Standards variance in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 22 February 2018 marks completion of the regulatory process under Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Farmer-buyer collaboration can help increase farm productivity in Nepal

Contract farming , a conditional arrangement on inputs and/or output between farmers and buyers, could increase rice farm productivity in Nepal by 7%, according to a recent study by agricultural economists published in Wiley Periodicals.

Research results indicated that the rice yield gap between contract and independent (non-contract) farmers is significant at 13%, which could partly be attributed to contract farming. Findings indicated that participation in contract farming  increased the average farm productivity levels of paddy seed farmers from 87% to 94%.

Ben Juliano, renowned cereal chemist & national scientist, passes away

By Gene Hettel

Bienvenido O. “Ben” Juliano, 81, world-renowned cereal chemist and Philippine National Scientist, passed away on the morning of 21 February in Los Baños, Laguna. He was among the first cadre of elite scientists who helped set the direction of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) during the institute’s early years. Arriving as an associate chemist in 1961, he went on to spend more than 32 years at IRRI, most of them as head of the Cereal Chemistry Department.
       IRRI’s first director general, Robert Chandler, Jr., who hired him, later wrote, “Without question, the broad scope of Dr. Juliano’s work in cereal chemistry advanced decidedly the world’s knowledge of the cooking, eating, and nutritional qualities of the rice grain; he was a pioneer in analyzing IRRI’s world collection of rice varieties for protein content.”
       In 1993, Klaus Lampe, a later IRRI director general wrote: “It is primarily due to Dr. Juliano’s dedicated work in this important research area that IRRI scientists and their colleagues can routinely measure grain quality in pre-breeding efforts that are serving the national agricultural research systems.”
       Bestowed the honor of National Scientist in 2000 by Philippine President Joseph Estrada (photo,
right), Dr. Juliano’s rice taste-panel research showed that the amylose and amylopectin contents of the starch largely determined rice’s cooking and eating quality. He found that a higher proportion of amylose provided a greater tendency for rice to cook dry and fluffy. So, based on this research, it became clear that the rice eaters of the Philippines and Indonesia preferred medium-amylose rice grains. IR24, the first IRRI variety to meet this requirement, was released in 1971.
       Born on 15 August 1936 from a family of accomplished scholars, the young Ben Juliano showed brilliance and academic excellence. He graduated early from college at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) with a magna cum laude B.S. in Agriculture in 1955 and eventually became the youngest (at the age of 22) “straight-A" PhD graduate in organic chemistry in 1959 at The Ohio State University. Shortly after that, he returned to the Philippines and joined IRRI where he would pursue his life’s work for the next 3 decades until his “retirement” in 1993.
       In 1993, he produced two books that brought together many elements of his scientific body of work, Grain Quality Evaluation of  World Rices, published by IRRI, and Rice in Human
Nutrition, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Dr. Juliano put together the FAO book to serve a wide range of readers in government, universities, and industry as a general source on most aspects of rice production, processing, trade, and consumption. His IRRI book (written with C.P. Villareal), was aimed at rice breeders and chemists involved in grain quality breeding programs and for food scientists and nutritionists interested in rice grain quality, composition, processing, and use. It was translated into Japanese in 1999. He also released a 10-chapter book in 2003, revised in 2007, Rice Chemistry and Quality, which was launched by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
       After his IRRI retirement, Dr. Juliano was invited to visit cereal laboratories in Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, Cuba, and Taiwan to give recommendations to their rice quality breeding programs. He also helped to build the grain-quality research capability of PhilRice where he continued to pursue his rice research as a senior consultant/expert, bringing his time devoted to cereal chemistry research to a half century.   
       In addition to being named a Philippine National Scientist in 2000, Dr. Juliano received numerous honors and awards throughout his stellar career including: the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award from the Junior Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines for his achievements in science (1964), the President of the Republic of the Philippines Jose Rizal Pro Patria Award (1976), election into the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (1979). the only non-Japanese Asian to be presented with the Medal of Merit by the Japanese Society of Starch Science (1982), and the only Asian and rice scientist to receive the Thomas Burr Osborne Medal Award from the American Association of Cereal Chemists (1988).
       He also was the first Filipino to be honored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an Outstanding Scientist and Technologist during the ASEAN Science and Technology Week (1988), recipient of the National Research Council of the Philippines’ Cluster I (Physical Sciences) National Researcher Award during its 60th Jubilee Celebration (1993), and recipient of a plaque of recognition for lifetime research on rice quality awarded by IRRI on the occasion of the dedication of the institute's new Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (2004).
       Dr. Juliano is survived by his spouse Linda; three children, Ben Jr., Carmelinda, and Benedict; and four grandchildren.
       Necrological rites were held 24 February at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel, Los Baños, Laguna. During those services, attended by many colleagues and friends, Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI's Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships, spoke in behalf of the institute. 
      Among his remarks, Dr. Tolentino stated: "A key legacy of Dr. Juliano at IRRI is the establishment of the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center. Looking at today’s trends, and into the future, the GQNC is increasingly becoming the locus of the work of IRRI. This is the center that bridges and translates consumer demands into the work of the breeders, agronomists, and other scientists. Overall, consumers care about not only the taste and eating quality of the rice, but also the impact of rice on their nutrition and health – particularly as their incomes grow. As a cereal chemist, Dr. Juliano laid the foundations of the methods and approaches to grain quality testing at IRRI – and it looks like this will be a key basis for the evolution of IRRI in the years to come."
     See a tribute to him in the Manila Bulletin: Ben Juliano, cereal chemist second to none.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

IRRI, the Chinese Academy for Agricultural Sciences, and BMGF team up to develop rice varieties for a Greener Revolution

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), together with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), collaborate through funding and research efforts to develop Green Super Rice (GSR), a new set of rice varieties that perform well under the toughest conditions.

IRRI and Renewable Energy for Rural Areas’ partnership in Nepal introduces solar bubble dryer to address farmers’ problem in paddy drying

Spring rice contributes around 20 percent of the total rice production in Nepal. However, farmers may lose 10 to 30 percent of the rice produced when they are not able to dry it properly. Paddy drying is a big problem during the onset of the rainy season in the country and there is great potential for technology that could significantly boost its rice production, contribute to national and local self-sufficiency, and add revenues for farmers.

The collaboration between International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Renewable Energy for Rural Areas (RERA) programme in Nepal was initiated to provide farmers with the tools to effectively dry rice during the spring. It is a project born through the partnership of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Germany to support the decentralized renewable energy sector in Nepal. It is jointly implemented by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Amongst other measures, the RERA programme is supporting the development and deployment of new and innovative renewable energy technologies (RETs) in the agriculture sector to increase productivity, generate income and stimulate low carbon economic growth.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Workshop on Agriculture Development Support Project aims to improve irrigation practices in Myanmar

The Myanmar Department of Agriculture (DOA), together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) participated in an inception workshop for the World Bank-funded Agriculture Development Support Project (ADSP).

The project aims to make irrigated agriculture more profitable, diversified, and sustainable through participatory planning, improved management approaches and increased options. It will be implemented in Bago, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, and Sagaing regions, Myanmar, and will upgrade 35,000 hectares of existing irrigation infrastructure. The initiative seeks to provide these direct benefits to 22,000 farm households, particularly those who have less than 0.8 hectares of land. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dr. Humnath Bhandari appointed as IRRI Representative in Bangladesh

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Humnath Bhandari as IRRI Representative in Bangladesh effective 1 February 2018. Dr. Bhandari brings a wide range of experience to the job and will serve as the focal point of IRRI activities in the country. He will lead all key initiatives to further strengthen IRRI’s commitment and partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, and other key donors, partners and stakeholders for rice-based agri-food systems in the country. In addition to this, in his new role as the IRRI Representative for its Bangladesh office, Dr. Bhandari will oversee and lead implementation of the new IRRI strategic plan in Bangladesh.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dr. Uma Shankar Singh as Interim Director of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre, India

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Uma Shankar Singh as the Interim Director of the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre. The appointment took effect on 1 November 2017.

Dr. Singh is widely recognized as an authority on seed and eco-friendly management of plant diseases. He is also a fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences in India, and served on various key scientific committees such as the Indian Phytopathological Society, the Governing Body of the Jharkhand Agriculture Development Council, and the Apex Committee to formulate the Pesticide R&D policy of India. He served as a visiting scientist at the Rothamsted Experiment Station in Harpenden, UK.

Friday, January 26, 2018

World Bank-funded IRRI project launched in Assam, India to raise farmers’ productivity and income

The World Bank, together with the Government of Assam, launched the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) project. It is a seven-year program that brings together technical knowledge of eight state departments and six renowned international organizations including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

International Rice Informatics Consortium holds workshop to discuss new technological breakthroughs

The International Rice Informatics Consortium (IRIC) is an organization that aims to give stakeholders access to comprehensive information about rice, and facilitate collaboration in the rice community. Early this year, it conducted its annual workshop that aims to provide researchers who share a common vision and passion for rice informatics, a platform to exchange their ideas and innovations. The workshop also seeks to further the interest of stakeholders in the consortium.

IRRI accomplishments in Cambodia, highlighted during the 1st International Conference on Sustainable Intensification and Nutrition

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – more than 160 delegates were invited to the 1st International Conference on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invited collaborators from its funded projects in Asia and Africa to encourage stronger partnerships within the network and with other universities and international organizations.

IRRI, BASF develop herbicide-tolerant rice

Two farmers are inspecting crops with the Provisia gene planted to a field in Italy.
These plants have a herbicide-tolerance which allows farmers to efficiently manage weed growth in the field.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and BASF will develop cytoplasmic male sterile (CMS) and restorer lines with the non-GM Provisia™ trait for herbicide tolerance. The system was developed by BASF and is currently being introduced to IRRI parental lines through rapid generation advancement scheme.

In Asia, the high labor costs required in transplanting crops and problems in water scarcity  lead farmers to cultivate direct-seeded rice instead of transplanted rice. Direct-seeded crops require less labor, less water input, and tend to mature faster than transplanted crops. When direct seeding is adopted, plants are not subjected to the stresses caused by transplanting.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Philippine Department of Agriculture staff learn about laser leveling technology to improve farm outputs

Orientation on basic tractor operation and pre-maintenance check
as part of the hands-on exercises.
IRRI, in cooperation with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), conducted a training on basic tractor operation, maintenance and implementation of laser-assisted land leveling. This initiative is part of the work package output of the water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments or WateRice Project. It aims to teach Department of Agriculture (DA) extension agents about basic operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the laser leveling system, a farming technique that uses laser-assisted system and a drag bucket to make precise leveling of the field. This technology makes farming efficient by reducing water requirement during land preparation and labor requirement during weeding operation. It also improves rice crop establishment, uniformity and maturity.

Myanmar farmers gain knowledge on laser leveling operation and its benefits

IRRI postharvest engineer Yan Lin Aung being interviewed by
Myanmar local channel, DVB TV, during the demonstration.
Leveling rice fields reduces the amount of water used for land preparation and irrigation, improves the application of agronomic inputs such as fertilizers and herbicides, and increases grain yield and quality. According to research in Cambodia, land leveling has increased yield by 24% per hectare.