Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Building capacity for geographic information systems in agriculture

The Geospatial Science and Modelling (GSM) cluster of the Sustainable Impact Platform recently conducted a 5-day training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as applied to agriculture, particularly to rice  research.

GIS techniques and related Earth observing  technologies  - Remote Sensing (RS), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs or drones) - are  used for a variety of applications, including crop monitoring, modeling and forecasting, and damage assessment, making them key tools for increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Technological innovations abound at Hack4Rice 2019

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) along with its technical partner Amazon Web Services (AWS), organized Hack4Rice 2019, a software/hardware hackathon focused on technological solutions that can be adapted for rice research. Held at the IRRI Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, the theme for this year’s hackathon is “Advancing Rice Research Through Tech and Innovation” which aimed to bring people with diverse backgrounds together and nurture a community of collaboration and innovation. 

With the idyllic scenery of mountains and rice fields in the background, the participants had the opportunity to interact with IRRI specialists involved in rice research and operations, external partners, and participants from different sectors who were able to provide valuable insights about rice research in general as well as perceived pain points that the hackathon hoped to solve including challenges related to rice research and agriculture in general as well as an IRRI-specific challenge on phenotype prediction.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Advancing pest resilience through molecular breeding

Phnom Penh -  The Leveraging Diversity for Ecologically-Based Pest Management (VERDE) project in Cambodia advanced their capacity building efforts with a training workshop on molecular breeding techniques.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the VERDE project aims to develop smart deployment of pest-resistant genes, test ecological engineering mechanisms for managing rice pests, and reduce pesticide dependency without negative impacts on yield.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Compositional analysis shows beta-carotene biofortified Golden rice is safe and has potential to address Vitamin A deficiency

The introduction of any new product or technology is often met with questions and concerns. For food crops like Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene in its grains, most people want to know whether it is safe to eat, and if it has any additional health benefits. In an article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in June 2019, Dr. B.P. Mallikarjuna Swamy and the Healthier Rice team at IRRI and PhilRice, presented findings showing the nutrient content of Golden Rice, and the potential nutritional impact of the added beta-carotene content. 

Leading regulatory agencies evaluate food safety claims based on the concept of substantial equivalence, a term coined by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1993 and adopted by international organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), which refers to the need to provide evidence demonstrating that a genetically modified food crop is as safe as its existing counterparts. Compositional analyses, such as those presented in Swamy’s publication, measure and compare specific components of new food crops and compare this with existing plant counterparts.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Rice straw project team wins the outstanding research and development award in the Los Baños science community

IRRI delivers through research excellence. The Sustainable Rice Straw Management project team won the Development Category of the Philippine Agriculture and Resources Research Foundation, Inc. (PARRFI) Outstanding Research and Development Awards. The award will be given by the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) on August 30 during the National Science and Technology week, SyenSaya 2019. 

The team’s winning entry was “Sustainable Rice Straw Management in the Philippines”, which highlights the effort of IRRI, together with its partners from the Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Carabao Center, the Philippine Postharvest Development Center and Mechanization (PhilMech), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños towards creating sustainable rice straw management technologies and practices in the country. Through the project, the following technologies were developed: 1) inoculant- supported rice straw incorporation, 2) mechanized collection of rice straw; 3) rice –straw based mushroom production; 4) rice straw silage for ruminants, 5) mechanized composting; and 6 ) rice straw for bioenergy. The project also enabled cross country training and workshops that generate knowledge learning and sharing among project partners in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Friday, August 30, 2019

BMZ funded project holds planning meeting

The  IRRI-coordinated project, VERDE (Leveraging Diversity for Ecologically Based Pest Management) is holding its 2nd Annual Meeting and Planning Workshop at Himawari Hotel, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that began on 27 August 2019  and followed by  field experiments’ tour in Prey Veng province on 28 August. Thirty (30) researchers and scientists from partners in Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Cambodia; Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh; and the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany., participated in the event. This research project grant came from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Thursday, August 29, 2019

UPLB, IRRI student wins best scientific poster at prestigious Asian genomic congress

Kuala Lumpur ~ Lawrence Uy, a masteral student of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) that is advancing his studies at the Genetic Transformation Laboratory of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), received the award for best scientific poster presentation at the 6th Plant Genomics and Gene Editing Congress Asia, held in Malaysia last 29-30 July 2019.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Vietnam and IRRI explore future collaborations for enhancing rice sector productivity and resilience to climate change

In a courtesy call in Hanoi, Dr. Matthew Morell, Director-General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) met with Dr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture, to discuss ways to increase the resilience of domestic agriculture to climate change, as well as to enhance the productivity and access to markets of rice farmers.

Minister Cuong discussed with Dr. Morell the priority areas where Vietnam, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and its attached agencies, would like support from IRRI. Minister Cuong stressed that “MARD will coordinate with the IRRI Vietnam country office to work on our agricultural policies to help improve the lives of our farmers.” Several existing and pending collaborative programs between IRRI and MARD will also push through in the coming years.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Making inroads for food security through cutting-edge farming technology

“We could never imagine before today a farming equipment and technology exhibition being held in our village”, said Jadav Basumatary, a progressive farmer from Barkachari Gaon, block Kathiatoli, district Nagaon in Assam; a scenic state, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys in India.

It is so encouraging to see so many new machines that could reinvigorate farming in our villages, making it profitable and maybe even generate more employment” he adds, looking over at the latest farm machinery lined up at the farm mechanization and technology exhibition organized in June by IRRI and partners under project ‘Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation’ (APART).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

IRRI facilitates productive partnerships between farmer cooperatives and rice seller in Cambodia

29 July 2019, Siem Reap ~ The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) continues its strong support for the Cambodian government’s efforts to bolster their country’s rice sector.

Last week, IRRI and the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) helped facilitate the contract signing of 16 rice agricultural cooperatives with AMRU Rice Company, one of the country’s fast-growing rice brands.

A total of twenty contracts were signed by AMRU President Oknha Song Saron and the farmer representatives of the cooperatives. Four were for the supply of quality seeds, and the rest were for paddy rice production and purchase.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

IRRI, PhilRice, and JIRCAS hold WeRise training for researchers

Researchers from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) received training on WeRise (Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system), an information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) tool on 22-26 July 2019 at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.  Through an IRRI-Japan collaborative research project, WeRise was developed and piloted in Indonesia. It integrates localized seasonal climate predictions and real-time weather data with a crop growth model to provide advisories on the best time to plant, fertilizer application schedule, and the suitable varieties for planting. Under the IRRI, PhilRice and JIRCAS joint research agreement (JRA), WeRise is being localized to suit rainfed rice areas in the Philippines.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Vietnam highlights climate-smart rice production in new training modules

The training materials were presented to the representatives of the different provincial extension offices.
Photo: NAEC 

12 July 2019, Ha Nam province, Vietnam – The National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, formally launched the training materials on climate-smart production. The initiative was carried out with the support of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA), and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of extension workers in mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation in rice production in the country.

Dr. Tran Van Khoi, director of NAEC, recognized the development of the training materials as a significant achievement of the one-year collaboration of NAEC, IRRI and CCAFS. He emphasized that “the training materials can be considered as an innovative approach, as they provide comprehensive guidelines to trainers on the delivery of the lessons, which can be later applied by NAEC on other equally important agriculture topics.”

Transition of Rice Crop Manager Advisory Service to the Philippines Department of Agriculture kicks off

The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture prepares to take the lead of the Rice Crop Manager (RCM) Advisory Service from IRRI, through the RCM Advisory Service Transition Workshop on July 24-25, 2019. Key stakeholders actively participated in strengthening inter-agency collaboration that is a vital component of the project “RCM Philippines Phase 3: Transition to Operational Sustainability for Research and Dissemination from IRRI to DA” which becomes official after 2021.

The overall project objective is to increase the capacity and institutional readiness for the integration and transition of RCM research, dissemination, operations and IT processes within the appropriate DA agencies towards full interoperability with other DA-funded projects with support from IRRI. In order to achieve this objective, project activities include system optimization of RCM Advisory Service; joint programming of IRRI and DA staff; and management of source codes and databases transfer from IRRI to DA in 2021. One of the first steps to do this is to get the commitment and buy-in of key stakeholders in this process.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

IRRI Bangladesh wins best poster presentation at 2019 KSBS SABRAO International Conference

Scientist MK Hossain from the Bangladesh Office of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) won the best poster presentation at the 2019 International Conference on Plant Breeding for Sustainable Development, which was held last July 2-5 2019 in Gwangju City, South Korea.

The conference, organized by the The Korean Society for Breeding Science (KSBS) and the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia and Oceania (SABRAO), aims to promote scientific and technical cooperation among scientists working in plant breeding and genetics in order to contribute towards progress in agricultural production and food security in the region.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Seed quality managers and technicians enhance skills on seed conservation

In partnership with the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), IRRI hosted the Seed Quality Management (SQM) Workshop on 10-14 June, 2019, with IRRI’s Jae-Sung Lee, deputy overall management of IRRI Genebank, convening the event.

The SQM led by Dr. Fiona Hay, a former IRRI scientist and now working at Aarhus University, Denmark, is one of core activities in the CGIAR Genebank Platform. It pursues to improve seed quality and longevity through better genebank practices based on scientific evidences.

“It was a great opportunity to interact with other international/ national genebank staff. The outputs of the workshop will influence the future direction of seed conservation for world-important crop species”, said Dr. Lee.

The workshop resulted in four proposed SQM projects: 1) automation and image analysis; 2) seed longevity; 3) post-harvest handling; and 4) seed dormancy planned for the next phase of SQM from 2020. Better genebank operations and improved seed quality through those projects will maximize the impact of research, thus adheres to the IRRI’s theme–‘Harnessing rice genetic diversity to accelerate impact’. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Smarter planning for better planting: building capacity for WeRise technology to help rice farmers increase productivity and income

West Lombok, Indonesia - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology West Nusa Tenggara (AIAT-WNT), organized a two-day training for agricultural extension workers to deliver advisories to rice farmers through the Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise).

WeRise is an Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) tool that integrates seasonal climate predictions with crop growth and nutrient management models to provide recommendations on optimum planting times, suitable rice varieties to use, and the timing of fertilizer application for rainfed rice-growing areas under current and future climate conditions. As farmers continue to grapple with the effects of climate change, the IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project (IJCRP) developed the WeRise platform to help farmers plan their crop calendar to increase yields and resilience as well as practice efficient water use. In this way, WeRise aims to improve rainfed rice productivity and the livelihoods of farmers.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

IRRI partners with social enterprise to incubate women’s producer company

As a concerted effort to test various models of women’s entrepreneurship development in rice agri-food systems, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has partnered with Access Livelihoods Consulting (ALC) India in the Dharmagarh and Kokasara blocks of Kalahandi district, Odisha to incubate a rural women-producer enterprise with 3,000 women farmers. This is undertaken through the project ‘Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer's Income in Odisha’ supported by the State Government of Odisha. The initiative aims to double the income of the women farmers and groom the next generation of rural women leaders to conduct businesses profitably and sustainably.

Declared as one of India’s aspirational districts by policy think tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), and considered the “Rice Bowl of Odisha”, Kalahandi is where the major livelihood activities of a large section of rural population revolve around the paddy-based food system. In the two selected blocks of the district, more than 80% of the farmers are small and marginal with an average land-holding of less than 3 acres.  In Koksara, 80.9% of the cropping area is rain-fed and in the Dharamgarh block, 40% of the area is under canal irrigation. 34.8% of the women belong to the Scheduled Tribal (ST) community with an average annual income of below INR 40,000 and a major part of their income comes through paddy farming.

The Producer Company will provide all the services which include inputs (seed, fertilizers, bio-pesticides), agricultural machinery, financial services and marketing for its members and facilitate access to the latest technologies in production, processing, information and traceability. It will facilitate linkages with multiple stakeholders like government, financial institutions, knowledge Institutions and, markets and also, create adequate risk coverage mechanisms.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

IRRI leads the first roundtable discussion on laser-assisted land leveling in the Philippines

IRRI and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) increases the profitability and sustainability of rice production by utilizing appropriate mechanization as enshrined in the country’s rice roadmap. 

With this, IRRI, the DA, with other rice industry stakeholders in the Philippines convened to share progress, discuss issues, and craft strategies in promoting laser leveling technologies.

Jon Hellin, leader of Sustainable Impact Platform, said that  “Laser Land Leveling was developed in the late 1990s and is a nice example of a technology development leading to considerable field operations efficiency, and towards environmental and financial sustainability. One of the reasons for this roundtable is to discuss how to scale the laser land leveling technology, share experiences from different agroecologies, farmer typologies, different methods, and approaches to scaling.” He also emphasized the importance of partnerships that will help accelerate the access to technologies.

Monday, July 1, 2019

54th Annual Rice Research Group Meeting furthering rice research in India

ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (NRRI, Cuttack), ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR, Hyderabad) and Association of Rice Research Workers Cuttack organized the 54th Annual Rice Group Meeting at NRRI between May 30 and June 2.

A team of senior scientists from IRRI India and the Philippines participated in the event where over 300 scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes, state agricultural universities and state departments of agriculture in India deliberated on the progress and challenges in 2018-19 in rice production. Future research opportunities of collaborations and the road map to address national priorities in the rice sector for India and South Asia were a highlight of the meeting.

IRRI, CCAFS support the promotion of climate-smart rice production in Vietnam

Dr. Nguyen Viet Khoa, head of Training and Education Division of the National Agriculture Extension Center, presenting the draft modules on climate-smart rice production. Photo by: NAEC
To mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation in rice production, the National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC) of Vietnam developed a set of training materials on climate-smart rice production for extension staff and rice farmers. With the help of experts from the various agencies attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, such as the institutes of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, NAEC drafted updated modules and presentations on the different steps of rice production and on effective communication and extension.

Eight specific modules were developed tackling topics such as adaptive cropping calendar (rice varieties, soil preparation, and crop establishment); water management; waste and by-product management, reducing post-harvest losses; and scaling and evaluation. For the first time a specific module on climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rice production has been included in the training outline as well. Alongside improving the clarity of lessons, the participants were also trained on how to keep the interest and attention of farmers, another crucial element for a successful training. The modules are intended to be used in the rice intensive region of Red River Delta, and eventually later-on, in the Mekong River Delta.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dr. Jauhar Ali invited to University of Bonn for special seminar on climate-smart rice

18 June 2019 – IRRI Senior Scientist and Head of Hybrid Rice Breeding Dr. Jauhar Ali was invited last June 12 by the Institute for Crop Sciences and Resource Conservation of the University of Bonn, Germany to give a special seminar on ‘climate-smart rice for global food security’.

Dr. Ali’s seminar, which was attended by students and staff of the university, established the importance of rice as a global food staple, and how research into areas like climate-resilient crops, biofortification, crop management technologies, and policies on food availability and access can help ensure food and nutrition security.

Dr. Ali then went on to talk about Green Super Rice (GSR), a category of rice varieties and hybrids so named for their environmental sustainability and high resource-use efficiency. These cultivars, developed through an IRRI breeding strategy of identifying promising introgression lines with target traits and bred through Designed QTL Pyramiding, combine high yield potential with less inputs, multiple biotic and abiotic tolerances, and good grain quality that can help farmers achieve stable harvests and income amid climatic stresses. 

IRRI boosts South-South cooperation in preparation for the 2020 India-Africa Summit

7 June 2019 -- A round table discussion organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in New Delhi, brought senior diplomats from African countries and India, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, participants from the public and private sectors, senior academics and CGIAR partners together to discuss challenges and prospects for enhancing India-Africa cooperation on agricultural research and capacity building for development.

Over 80% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa depend on agriculture.  The demand for rice in the region is growing at over 6% per year due to rising population, better incomes, urbanization and shifting consumer preferences. To meet this rising demand, the region imported 16 million tons of milled rice in 2018 at a cost of around US$ 6 billion. “There is a need to build robust rice-based agri-food systems in Africa using the knowledge and overall progress made in India, to increase food production and improve nutrition”, said Dr Abdelbagi Ismail, IRRI Representative in Africa.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail receives prestigious Fellowship of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences

5 June 2019, Delhi, India - Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, Principal Scientist and IRRI Representative in Africa was presented the prestigious Fellowship of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India as a foreign fellow. The honour is effective January of 2019 and was conferred to Dr. Ismail in a formal ceremony chaired by Dr. Panjab Singh, President of the academy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

John Sheehy, former IRRI senior scientist, passes away in UK

John E. Sheehy, 76, a crop ecologist and crop modeler at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for 14 years (1995-2009), passed away last Friday (7 June 2019) after battling Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA) for several years in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK.

For his entire time at IRRI, he headed the Applied Photosynthesis and Systems Modeling Laboratory. He was also head of IRRI’s Climate Unit and Systems Modeling Group and was adjunct professor in the Agronomy Department of the University of the Philippines Los Bańos.

At the turn of the century, he kick-started a project designed to make rice utilize photosynthesis more efficiently. It all started with a think tank that he organized, which was attended by a small group of elite modelers, systems analyzers, ecologists, and environmental and crop physiologists who were on a quest to reduce hunger by redesigning rice photosynthesis. The gathering was at IRRI in the Philippines, 30 November–3 December 1999. The result was a proceedings that became the “Bible” for a while as research got underway. It was superseded by Charting new pathways to C4 rice, published by IRRI and World Scientific, emanating from a 2006 follow-up workshop to catch up with the rapidly growing literature. 

In an interview (15:11) given at IRRI on 26 March 2013, Dr. Sheehy talked about the project’s concept. “C4 rice is the ultimate goal of rice scientists' attempt to supercharge photosynthesis, the process by which a plant uses sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce carbohydrates—in rice so that it yields more grain. Rice, a C3 plant, uses these resources far less efficiently than C4 plants (e.g., maize) do. A C4 rice plant would use less water and fertilizer and produce at least 50% more grain.”

Dr. Sheehy appreciated that IRRI could not realize the dream of developing C4 rice alone. So, after the 1999 think tank, he set about persuading, and bringing together, a group of many of the best scientists worldwide to join in the C4 Rice Project. In 2008, he helped secure partial funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which continues support to this day. At the time of his death, and after 20 years of research, C4 rice is not yet a reality, but significant progress has been made. The ongoing Project is indeed an important part of Dr. Sheehy’s scientific legacy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Thailand gears up innovations on land leveling

Proper use of the laser-guided land leveling system entails correct and safe tractor operation
The Phraojen Village is one of the rice-producing areas in Chainat province that needs more water during dry season. “Although we have adequate supply of water through the Chao Phraya River, we don’t have enough during the dry season so we need to take measures,” said Winai Jaengan, village head.

To overcome this challenge, the village members rely on underground irrigation during the dry season. “This is costly for us because it needs more fuel to pump the water out.   Additionally, the farmers use small walking tractors which takes time and more cost to level the field,” he added.

The Thai Rice Department, in partnership with IRRI through the CORIGAP project has introduced innovations in rice production. One of these innovations is the laser-guided land leveling.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ushering Vietnam towards a new rice revolution using best management practices

IRRI, through the World Bank-funded project “Vietnam – Sustainable Agricultural Transformation (VnSAT),” continues to build initiatives towards producing high quality, certified environmentally safe rice in Vietnam.

By ensuring the use of sustainable best management practices in rice by following 1 Must Do, 5 Reductions (1M5R), IRRI provides technical assistance to increase the adoption of this practice that will feed into the certification of global standards like Sustainable Rice Platform. This initiative complements government supported policies like Small Farmer, Large Fields to enable smallholder farmers reap benefits from producing sustainable rice.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

IRRI and Korea partner to catalyze rural transformation through rice science

By working with Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA), IRRI enables rural transformation through the adoption of technologies and practices to solve complex global problems in rice-growing countries and beyond.

Since 2002, IRRI has partnered with RDA in organizing the two-week Rice Technology Transfer Systems Training Workshop (RTTS). Through this program, more than 250 participants from nine Asian countries had the opportunity to evaluate global challenges facing rice research and development. Participants were also involved in various interactive and participatory learning methods to identify and analyze research-extension linkages that enable adoption of successful new rice technologies in the field.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Learning about the roses and thorns of digital survey data collection

Conducting a survey can be an arduous task. It entails encoding, printing, and processing, not to mention the struggle of recording handwritten notes that are sometimes difficult to read. Consequently, it can lead to gathering less reliable data.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Staying ahead of the curve: CGIAR holds Germplasm Seed Health Workshop

Germplasm exchange is a regulated process governed by the phytosanitary policies and procedures of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and national plant protection organizations. Since inception, CGIAR centres have adopted strict code of practice to ensure phytosanitary compliance executed by the purpose-made Germplasm/Seed  Health Units (GHUs), established as per the IPPC recommendation in the 6th International Plant Protection Congress held in Montreal in August 1993. The GHUs, titled differently in some centres (e.g. Plant Quarantine Unit, Seed Health Unit, Health Quarantine Unit), have a common mission of preventing the risk of accidental spread of pests and pathogens along with the germplasm. GHUs have adopted a multipronged interdisciplinary approach to accomplish this important objective.

Monday, May 20, 2019

IRRI joins global country officials for agricultural biodiversity promotion workshop

By fostering active engagement through institutional capacity building and joining global discourse, IRRI helps countries create opportunities where they can enhance their respective agricultural–based ecosystem while boosting rice productivity.

Together with other agricultural officials from 19 countries, IRRI participated in a workshop to share strategies on germplasm conservation and the linkage between natural resources management and sustainable agriculture development. It was also an opportunity to discuss the impacts and threats of exotic species to local species, ways to ensure and maintain potential species and enable digitization of biodiversity data.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

IRRI and partners transforming sustainable food systems landscape: EAT-Lancet Commission report launched in India

The EAT-Lancet Commission's report 'Food. Planet. Health', a groundbreaking study on nutrition, health, and the food system , was formally released for India on 4 April at headquarters of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a global initiative launched by United Nations in 2012 to make nutritious food more affordable, and Tasting India, an international platform for food policy advocacy, partnered with FSSAI at the event to share key takeaways of the report, which proposes scientific targets for what comprises a healthy diet derived from a sustainable food system.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Philippine Department of Agriculture strengthens support for the nationwide deployment of Rice Crop Manager

Digitally enabled agricultural advisory services supported by decades of strong science-based evidence can help accelerate agricultural development. The  Rice Crop Manager (RCM) serves as an exemplar in this era of leveraging the power of digital technology to deliver agricultural information into the hands of those who need it the most.

Since 2013, RCM has generated more than 1.85 million science-based recommendations to rice farmers on integrated crop management for the optimal use of agricultural resources for increased yield and profit. Based on the monitoring, evaluation and learning activity conducted in 2018 for large-scale dissemination of RCM, farmers who followed the recommendations increased their yield by an average of 640 kg per hectare compared with those who did not follow. Moreover, these same farmers had an average added net benefit of PhP 11,146 per hectare than those who did not follow the RCM recommendations.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Unlocking the agriculture potential of Myanmar’s central plains

The fast-growing economy in Myanmar heavily depends on agriculture, being the main source of income for most households. Strategic investment in infrastructure and agricultural management practices, and strengthening institutional capacities are needed to transform the country’s agricultural sector. Despite being endowed with abundant land and water resources, the existing irrigation systems in Myanmar are greatly underutilized. Improving its infrastructure can provide opportunities for better crop intensification, especially in the central plains of Myanmar, which is a potential food granary for the country.

To address this challenge, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) on the Agricultural Development Support Project. Financed by the World Bank, its goal is to support the country’s aim to increase crop yields and cropping intensity in the central plains, contributing to economic development and food security. Currently, the IRRI team has been providing technical assistance in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable rice-based production systems and in building capacities of key actors in the agriculture sector.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Green Super Rice varieties are boosting productivity and income with less inputs and more environmental sustainability

Integrated breeding and crop management solutions help smallholder farmers improve their income and livelihood while protecting the environment and themselves.

Green Super Rice (GSR) can produce high and stable yield with fewer inputs like water, fertilizers, and pesticides. These varieties have the tolerance to different abiotic stresses such as drought, floods, salinity, and other stresses.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations (BMGF) and the Chinese Government, IRRI through the GSR project released 55 varieties in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East and Southern Africa. At present, these varieties cover more than two million hectares in 11 countries. According to a study conducted in the Philippines, GSR farmers have an estimated income advantage of more than USD 231 per hectare. This advantage can reach up to USD 409 per hectare during the wet season.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Frogs can be heroes or villains in the rice ecosystem, a new study revealed

Molly Shuman-Goodier, lead researcher, recently earned her PhD at the Northern Arizona State University. Grant Singleton, IRRI’s Principal Scientist and CORIGAP project leader, served as one of her supervisors

In a recent study published in the internationally renowned journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment, researchers from the Northern Arizona University, the International Rice Research Institute, and the University of Greenwich investigated the functional roles of frogs in the rice ecosystem. The research was conducted on the Zeigler Experiment Station at IRRI, and led by Molly Shuman-Goodier a PhD student who graduated from Northern Arizona University  in April 2019.

A field survey was conducted in two separate rainy seasons of 2015 and 2017 to determine whether the endemic native Luzon wart frogs (Fejevarya vittigera) and non-native cane toads (Rhinella marina) consume rice pests and which is more effective in doing so.  The diet composition of the two species was also examined to determine how these two species compete for food resources in the rice fields. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

IRRI joins regional discussion on mechanization of grain harvesting

Demonstration of a wheat combine in Bhairahawa district, Terai Region, Nepal.

IRRI’s  Mechanization and Postharvest Cluster participated in a traveling seminar on Mechanized Grain Harvesting for Smallholder Farmers in Nepal and Asia in Nepal on 25-29 March 2019 .

The event aimed to identify mechanization research and learning areas across South and Southeast Asia, particularly Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. The traveling seminar included field visits and a workshop on farmers’ grain wheat harvesting, interactions with various distributors, service providers and operators of emerging technologies on rice harvesting at Nepal’s Terai Region.

Dr. Timothy Krupnik, Lead of CSISA Bangladesh, said that CSISA is addressing challenges in smallholder farmers’ productivity and that the traveling seminar is an avenue to stimulate ideas for collaborative research around markets and market system on appropriate mechanization.

Monday, April 15, 2019

IRRI hosts 13th Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange delegates

48 delegates from ten countries across Asia recently visited the International Rice Research headquarters to learn about the institute's agricultural biotechnology initiatives and biosafety protocols. The study visit formed part of the itinerary of the 13th Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange program, an annual knowledge exchange platform organized by Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines, Croplife Philippines, and Croplife Asia for farmers, policymakers, journalists, and other key stakeholders engaged in agriculture.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Former Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development appointed as new member of IRRI Board of Trustees

With his extensive experience in agriculture and great contribution to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Dr. Cao Đức Phát, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam from 2004 to 2016, was recently appointed as a new member of IRRI's Board of Trustees. His appointment will be effective 10 January 2019 for a term of three (3) years.

In a meeting to celebrate Dr. Phát’s appointment, Dr. Ole Sander, the IRRI country representative to Vietnam, recalled the significant contributions Dr. Phát provided to IRRI when he was the minister of MARD. These include allowing IRRI to have an active role in the development of the rice restructuring plan of Vietnam, as well as helping strengthen the research and capacity building collaboration between IRRI and the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS).

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

On the shoulders of giants, IRRI launches AGGRi Alliance

Building on its success in developing and delivering improved rice varieties in South Asia and Africa, IRRI through the Accelerated Genetic Gain in Rice (AGGRi) Alliance continues to strengthen its partnership with the national research and extension systems to increase rice yield and improve livelihoods of rice farmers in these regions.

According to IRRI breeder and project leader Joshua Cobb, “AGGRi Alliance will combine the progress made in modernizing IRRI’s rice breeding through Transforming Rice Breeding (TRB) project, with the successful trialing networks, germplasm development, and seed systems from the Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project - both supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) - into a single initiative that will expand IRRI’s variety testing networks into a globally aligned, modernized, rice breeding 'community of practice'. It will also empower women involved in the rice value chain which will be unified by a set of standards developed to make breeding decisions consistent with the demands of regional farmers, consumers, and processors”.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Enhancing Iloilo’s rice productivity through innovations on land leveling and rice straw management

Iloilo is one of the major rice baskets in the Philippines, and mechanization could play a role in increasing the productivity of rice farming in the province. Last 7 March 7, the laser-guided land leveling system and rice straw baler were showcased to demonstrate its benefits and determine opportunities for future use.  One hundred sixty five mushroom growers, ruminant raisers, rice farmers and members of irrigators’ association, graced the event to assess the benefits that can be obtained from using these technologies to help improve farming livelihoods and accelerate the Iloilo’s rice competitiveness.

Mr. Peter Sobrevega, Regional Technical Director of the Department of Agriculture- Regional Field Office for Region 6, welcomed the participants and partners to the event and emphasized how important these technologies are in terms of improving the rice farming industry. He also mentioned that mechanized rice straw collection using rice straw balers, through the support of the RiceStrawPH project, can also help the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the National Dairy Technology to improve the livestock sector.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Direct Seeded Rice Consortium convenes first annual meeting to advance partnerships for more sustainable, environment-friendly rice systems

14 March 2019, IRRI Headquarters ~ The Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC), a multi-stakeholder research for development platform established by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), held its first annual review and planning meeting to discuss the progress and challenges encountered in their first year.

Direct seeding is a crop establishment system wherein rice seeds are planted directly into the field, as opposed to the more conventional method of growing rice first in a nursery, then transplanting it into a flooded plot. Besides saving significant water, labor, and time, direct seeding also greatly decreases the output of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Some of the trade-offs associated with the shifts from transplanted rice to direct seeding include use of higher seed rates, and higher weed infestation.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Vietnam government taps CGIAR to work on its New Rural Development program

For more than five decades, CGIAR and its centers have been collaborating with Vietnamese partners in pursuing agricultural development, poverty eradication and sustainability in the country. CG Centers and CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) have done a lot of work in Vietnam on improving the income and livelihood of the rural population and helping them cope with the impacts of climate change.

With this relevance and strong research for development (R4D) capacity, the National Coordination Office of the National Target Program on New Rural Development (NTP-NRD) forged a partnership with CGIAR centers operating in Vietnam to work together for the NTP-NRD or the Nông Thôn Mới program. As a comprehensive development program, the Nông Thôn Mới program not only aims to build new rural areas by having appropriate socio-economic infrastructure and protecting national defense and security but also combining agricultural development with industry and services and conserving the environment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Myanmar strives to improve resilience against climate change

Millions of resource-poor farmers in stress-prone areas in Myanmar can cope with the effects of climate change by cultivating high-yielding stress tolerant varieties and diversifying food and income sources.

There is a pressing challenge to help farmers to better withstand or recover from natural disasters and the threats of climate change. In the past 10 years, the country has experienced severe drought, flooding, and cyclones with increased frequency and duration.

With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and national partners in Myanmar, IRRI through the Stress-Tolerant Rice in Vulnerable Environments (STRIVE) project, improved the ability of vulnerable smallholder farms to recover from natural disasters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Public-private partnerships drive efforts toward food security

No single organization can do everything to be successful and innovative. While IRRI is at the forefront of boosting rice productivity globally, there is an alarming challenge of producing nutritious and high quality rice in an increasingly scarce resource. The complex situation of poverty and food security calls for more strategic research for development initiatives that is reinforced through public and private sector collaborations.

During the IRRI Science Week, IRRI scientists and staff gathered to discuss the challenges and key drivers in public-private partnerships that will help the institute widen its global impact. IRRI, as an honest broker in rice, continues to engage with global research for development partners. Private companies are an important component of such partnerships. More importantly, public- private partnership creates synergy among different actors that enables taking technologies to farmers’ fields, so everyone can reap the best returns.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Policy pathways to value chain transformation highlighted during IRRI Science Week

Making safe and nutritious rice accessible to the consumers who depend on it for nourishment and at the same time growing rice that is profitable for farmers who rely on it for their livelihood is a shared responsibility of all actors working within the rice based agri-food system. But current institutions and policies are no longer equipped to adequately address this challenge and require system-wide shifts in priority areas. In the past few years, to address some aspects of this multifaceted challenge, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has been conducting value chain research exploring consumer behaviours and preferences as entry points to making rice inclusive, sustainable and capable of meeting global food security and nutrition challenges.

At the Value Chains and Policies session of IRRI Science Week, presenters reflected on how the institution’s initiatives contribute to improving the rice value chain within the countries it works in. Ongoing work on consumer valuation of sustainable rice production, as well as product profiling and forecasting of appropriate rice varieties, demonstrate how robust data can help identify emerging markets and enable rice value chain actors to address these markets’ needs as well as opportunities. Research on the sociocultural and economic factors behind household food consumption, the impact of climate change on rice production, and new mechanization and post-harvest technologies examine different drivers of change that can catalyze the transformation of rice-based value chains. A key learning across all these research programs was the need to influence policies to ensure sustained systemic change and large scale impact, particularly in terms of making all aspects of rice production more inclusive, more nutritious and more sustainable.   

Friday, February 8, 2019

IRRI and Mozambique strengthen collaboration and join efforts to establish regional center of leadership for rice

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Agriculture Research Institute of Mozambique
(IIAM), and the World Bank funded project Agricultural Productivity Program for Southern Africa (APPSA) explore opportunities to collaborate in the establishment of the Regional Center of Leadership (RCoL) for Rice. 

APPSA is a World Bank project focused on improving agricultural technology generation and dissemination in the Southern Africa region. Currently, the project is implemented in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, and other countries in the South African Development Community region will join as the project expands.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IRRI, UN Environment engage private sector toward a low-carbon rice production

CAMBODIA—When talking of climate impacts on rice and mitigation measures, farmers, extension agents, and relevant government institutions usually come to mind. Now, the private sector is becoming more visible in the picture.

A workshop jointly organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the UN Environment Programme highlighted the importance of involving the private sector in efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rice production.

“The role of the private sector in promoting the practice of mitigation technologies is pivotal because they have distinct interests in ensuring that farmers implement certain practices. Also, they are actively working in almost all stages of the value chain and that cannot be overlooked,” says Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, climate change scientist and IRRI Representative to Vietnam.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Engaging global partners for sustainable rice straw management

Visit at a farmer's foeld in Tien Giang with
rice straw silage used for cattle feed
Working with advanced research institutes and national partners, IRRI aims to develop, adopt, and translate technologies to deliver environmentally sustainable benefits.

Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of the German government, the Sustainable Rice Straw Management project conducted a workshop and demonstration of sustainable rice straw management practices and technologies in Tien Giang Province, Vietnam.

According to Dr. Bjoern Ole Sander, IRRI representative in Vietnam, the most important aspect of this project is the close collaboration between diverse partners from different countries. “To see the impact of adopting new technologies and to work in different countries is one of the interesting aspects of the project,” he added.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Myanmar’s DAR recognizes IRRI contributions during 65th anniversary celebration

27 January 2019, Yezin, Myanmar - Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, the Deputy Director General for Research of the International Rice Research institute (IRRI), was a special guest at the 65th anniversary celebration of Myanmar’s Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), and received on behalf of the institute a plaque of recognition for IRRI’s valued partnership and contributions to research for the country.