Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Training aims to boost capacity and supply of high quality seeds of pulses and oilseed in Myanmar

The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI), in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), organized Training of Trainers on Early Generation Seed (EGS) production in pulses, oilseed crops including hybrid sunflower on 7-10 January 2020. The event trained 51 participants from the Department of Agriculture Seed Division, DAR Pulses and Oilseed Crops Section, and the private sector on the important methodologies of EGS production.

The training is part of the Agricultural Development Support Project (ADSP) implemented by MOALI and funded by the World Bank. The general objective of the ADSP is to help Myanmar overcome poverty and food insecurity through improved provision of irrigation and farm advisory services. It aims to increase crop yield and cropping intensity in the target irrigated areas in Sagaing, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, and Bago.

EGS production, which can help increase yields and offset crop losses among smallholder farmers, is the main component of the ADSP, according to Dr. Naing Kyi Win, director general of the DAR. He also emphasized the importance of the collaborative effort of MoALI and IRRI “for increasing the income and livelihood of the farmers.”

“In Myanmar, while rice is the major crop, pulses and oil seed crops are part of national needs,” said Thet Zin Maung, deputy director general, Technology, DoA. “People cannot rely only on rice in the future. Collaboration between public and private sector to fulfil the needs for farmers in the production of food crops is greatly important and will become more crucial in the near future to cope with climate change.”

He cited farmers in Thaphanseik Dam who switched from rice to pulses and oilseed to overcome the water shortage.  “The need for hybrid sunflower seed production is increasing and government seed farms are unable to produce enough good quality seeds for the farmers,” U Thet said. “It is necessary to encourage the private sector to produce good quality parental lines.”

David Johnson, a principal scientist at IRRI, encouraged the participants to equip themselves as best as they can to improve the seed production system in Myanmar and share their knowledge with the farmers in the seed production system.

“Pulses and oil seed production in Myanmar is essential for the food and nutrition security, not just for the rural people in Myanmar, but also for the whole region,” said Dr. Johnson. “High quality early generation seed production is critical for the production of high quality seed which is necessary to equip the farmers to produce good crops and, with new varieties, could help farmers face the changing climate.”

Dr. Arun Kumar M.B, an IRRI consultant and principal scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, served as the main resource person for the training.


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Friday, January 10, 2020

Former IRRI Executive Officer passed away

Faustino “Boy” Salacup poses for a portrait at his desk in IRRI.

Faustino "Boy" M. Salacup (b. 1932), former Executive Officer, Comptroller, Treasurer, and Director for Protocol and Liaison of the International Rice Research Research Institute (IRRI), passed away on December 22, 2019. He is regarded as one of the Institute's pioneers, having joined in January 1961.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Former IRRI weed ecologist passes away

Professor Andrew Martin Mortimer, 71, passed away peacefully after a short illness at his home in North Wales on Sunday, 22 December 2019, surrounded by his family. Martin was a weed ecologist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Agronomy, Plant Physiology, and Agroecology (APPA) Division from 1996 to 2003, also serving as APPA deputy head (1998-2000). He continued as an IRRI consultant afterwards.

Martin was an expert in plant ecology, agricultural botany, genetics, and environmental and evolutionary biology. He pointed out that, as a plant population biologist, he studied the development and application of agro-ecology in tropical and temperate agro-ecosystems.

In IRRI’s 1997-98 Annual Report, he explained that natural plants in a location—weeds to most people—present a particular challenge. "All non-rice plants in a field are not necessarily bad," he said. "If we can identify which weeds are good for natural enemies and bad for pests, we may recommend that farmers selectively weed their fields. But managing the vegetation around the field edges will probably have even greater benefit for beneficial insects."