Thursday, August 30, 2012

Philippines: SINOP reaches out to students and evacuees

Members of The Society of IRRI Non-research Professionals (SINOP) distributed umbrellas to students of Bagong Silang Elementary School in Los BaƱos on 16 August. SINOP members also took the opportunity to bond with the school children over snacks that it provided.

India: Tamil Nadu Agricultural University appoints Prof. K Ramasamy as Vice Chancellor

Prof. K Ramasamy has been appointed as the new vice chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore for the next 3 years.

Vietnam: Training course held on Participatory Adaptive Research in Hue City

A training course and workshop on Participatory Adaptive Research on stress-tolerant rice varieties in coastal areas of Central Vietnam was held at the Faculty of Agronomy, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry (HUAF) in Hue City, Central Vietnam on 13-16 August. This collaborative activity aims to develop updated technical methodology on adaptive research and dissemination strategies on stress- tolerant rice and associated production management for saline- and submergence-prone areas.

Resource speakers included Romeo Labios (consultant, CLUES project), Tran Dang Hoa (team leader, LUCCi project), Truong Thi Ngoc Chi (rural sociologist, Cuu Long Rice Research Institute), Trinh Thi Sen and Tran Thi Nga (lecturers, HUAF).  Among the topics discussed were (1 )Progress in breeding for and physiology of salinity and flooding tolerance in rice, (2) Best management practices in saline- and submergence-prone environments, (3) Rice variety and crop management components in stress-prone environments (i.e variety and seed selection, land preparation and crop establishment, nutrient management, and integrated pest management), (4) PVS methodology and information requirements, (5) Wide scale dissemination/technology tracking/scaling up and assessment of impact, and (6) PVS field practicum.

Twenty-one participants from Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)-Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue provinces and HUAF attended the activity, which included a field practicum on PVS preference analysis at Nam Chau village, Phu Da town, Phu Vang district in Thua Thien Hue province, and a visit to experimental farms of HUAF. The participants prepared action plans for saline- and submergence-prone rice production systems that they can implement in the following cropping season and for the next 3 years (2013-2015). They will submit the action plans to the provincial DARD for funding.

In most coastal and riverside regions in Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue provinces, high tide levels, especially in summer, lead to strong seasonal salinization. The rice growing areas in these regions are not completely protected against salt water intrusion even during rainy season. Rice in Summer-Autumn crops wither due to salt intrusion especially in some parts of the provinces that are near the East Sea and lack fresh water irrigation. HUAF and the Land Use and Climate Change Interactions in the Vu Gia Thu Bon River Basin, Central Vietnam (LUCCi) project work together to help improve rice production in Central Vietnam, particularly in Quang Nam province. Reiner Wassmann served as project leader of the IRRI-LUCCi project, which is funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research – BMBF (

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HR successfully implements training on Writing Job Profiles

Ninety-five HQ-based IRRI staff from various disciplines and job levels attended the training sessions on Writing Job Profiles on 15 and 16 August. The participants were trained in creating standard job profiles through job analysis. The activity is the first step in the development of career paths for Nationally Recruited Staff (NRS).  Hundreds of staff members are expected to collaborate on drafting a set of standard job profiles for the Institute.

A follow-up session on skills necessary to facilitate a series of Focus Group Discussions will also be conducted and a number of country office-based staff will receive the same training in the coming weeks.
The training was jointly facilitated by Human Resource Services (HRS) and Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company. For inquiries on the development of career paths for NRS, please email, or contact Sara on HQ ext. 2824 or Jhea on HQ ext. 2775.

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Pakistan: CSISA convinces more farmers to use zero-tillage technology for direct seeded rice

Zero-tillage famer Muhammad Asif
The Cereal System Initiative South Asia (CSISA) is promoting zero-tillage technology for direct seeded rice (DSR) at a few places in and outside Pakistan.  Zero-tillage for DSR, which reduces cost of production while increasing crop yields and farmers’ profits, has been successfully demonstrated through various CSISA traveling seminars and outreach programs.

The practice, where the field is unplowed, is a different approach to conventional rice planting and many farmers are hesitant to try it. The CSISA team, however, convinced Mr. Muhammad Asif, a farmer in Sheikhupura District to try it on a half acre plot. Despite some problems and damages from grazing livestock, Mr. Asif saved more than PKR5,000 in planting cost. He plans to use the technology on 50 acres of his land next year. His neighbors are also considering using zero-tillage for DSR next year.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vietnam: CLUES project holds second semi-annual review and workshop in Can Tho University

The Climate Change Affecting Land Use in the Mekong Delta: Adaptation of Rice-based Cropping Systems (CLUES) held its second semi-annual review and planning workshop on 8-10 August at Can Tho University (CTU) in Vietnam. More than 60 Vietnamese scientists and local staff from CTU, Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute (CLRRI), Southern Institute for Water Resources Planning (SIWRP), Institute of Agricultural Sciences for Southern Vietnam (IAS), and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of An Giang, Can Tho, Hau Giang and Bac Lieu provinces as well as scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) participated in the said activity.

Theme Leaders, Nguyen Xuan Hien (SIWRP), Nguyen Thi Lang (CLRRI), Le Van Hoa (CTU), Dang Kieu Nhan (CTU), Nguyen Hieu Trung (CTU) and Cao Van Phung (CLRRI), presented the highlights of accomplishments for March 2011-July 2012. Some of the important achievements of the CLUES project include:

  • Established risk maps of saline intrusion and flooded area in the Mekong Delta and Bac Lieu province.
  • Developed land use and soil map for Bac Lieu province as a coastal area in Mekong Delta.
  • Assessed and analyzed climate change constraints in rice-based farming systems and the adaptive capacities of farmers in all study sites.
  • Conducted a demonstration of alternate-wetting-and drying technology in Bac Lieu province with GIZ Bac Lieu for about 100 farmers. 
  • Selected 27 salt-tolerant lines including OM 5629 and OM 6677 and identified 12 genotypes with rapid recovery from stress such as MNR 1, MRN 4, MNR 3, OM 6677, and OM 70. The newly released acid-sulphate soil tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties are expected to be widely out-scaled through participatory varietal selection (PVS) trials and seed network activities.
  • Evaluated 14 high-yielding genotypes with submergence tolerance in selected farmers' fields at Bac Lieu, An Giang, Hau Giang provinces and Can Tho city. 
  • Managed trials of 12 salt-sub tolerant high-yielding genotypes in selected farmers' fields at Bac Lieu province. 
  • Evaluated 12 rice genotypes with a degree of tolerance to stagnant flood in selected farmer’s fields at Hau Giang province. 
  • Screened a total of 300 local varieties (comprising 40 traditional varieties, 200 improved varieties and 60 IRRI varieties) of Vietnamese germplasm for good survival and recovery under anaerobic conditions.
  • Established the different CH4 (methane gas) emission rates as influenced by different production factors. Emission rate of CH4 in conventional field plots were consistently greater than in alternate-wetting and drying (AWD) plots. In addition, the CH4 emission rates increased with plant age and reached the highest rate at flowering time and decreases with reduced water depth at harvesting time. CH4 emission rates with N fertilizer use were also found to be greater when compared with straw compost application at 6 t/ha.
IRRI scientists Reiner Wassmann, To Phuc Tuong, Russell Reinke, Abdelbagi Ismail, Thelma Paris, Romeo Labios, and Ngo Dang Phong participated in the activity. IWMI was represented by Chu Thai Hoanh, while CTU was headed by Le Quang Tri. ACIAR Vietnam was represented by Geoff Morris and Vu Thi Hai.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cambodia: Forum on loan products and banking services held for rice postharvest sector

The multistakeholder Cambodia Postharvest Learning Alliance sponsored the third business roundtable, Loan products and banking services for the postharvest sector, in Kampong Thom Province on 18 August 2012.

The forum featured presentations on postharvest losses and mitigation, business plans for piloting technologies with stakeholders, and information on loan products and financial services from local microfinance institutions ACLEDA, PRASAC, Amret, Sathapana, and VisionFund.

Forty-four representatives from local microfinance institutions; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF); provincial extension departments; the International Rice Research Institute; NGOs; key farmers; and private sector millers, processors, and service providers participated in the event.

“Rice production in Cambodia is increasing due to growing acceptance of modern agricultural technologies, improved seed varieties, and more efficient cropping methods," said Ou Bos Phoan, head of the Kampong Thom Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA), who opened the event. "But these lead to increased bottlenecks in postharvest operations and preventable physical and quality losses that affect food security and income of farmers and other stakeholders.”

Pyseth Meas, director of the Department of International Cooperation of MAFF and coordinator of the ADB-funded Cambodia Learning Alliance, said, “We have created awareness of postharvest losses and mitigation options, such as combine harvesters, mechanical dryers and improved storage management, but it is important that farmers and other stakeholders are enabled to sustainably incorporate these into value-adding enterprise models. Participation and engagement of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the postharvest sector is thus very important.”

One of the farmer leaders present remarked, “Us farmers are expected to act and be flexible against risks and other challenges such as pests, rain, anddrought. We face many obstacles and need other stakeholders to also understand, adapt, and offer flexible solutions that meet our needs if we are to succeed.”

The event was co-hosted by the Kampong Thom PDA, Cambodia MAFF, and IRRI.

The next business forum will be held in Phnom Penh in September and will be aimed at senior-level officers in Cambodia’s burgeoning microfinance sector. The goal of the forum will be to explore specifics of how MFIs can link to help stakeholders develop sound business plans and, in turn, how Learning Alliance members can help new entrepreneurs and loan providers reduce their risks with technical support, training, and selection of improved technologies.

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Incoming GRiSP director is guest in researchers' lunch

Bas Bouman, new director of the Global Rice Science Partnership (center).

Bas Bouman, head of IRRI's Crop and Environmental Sciences Division and newly named director of the Global Rice Science Partnership or GRiSP, was the guest scientist during the Young Researchers Lunch for August.

Participants were Balwinder Singh, Nikos Tsakirpaloglou, Sharifa Sultana Dipti, Yam Kanta Gaihre, Annette Tobias, and Elenor de Leon.

Dr. Bouman discussed his own career path with the participants, which he said was always determined by taking the best opportunities that came up and not by following a set plan. He parted with the young researchers with this tip: "If someone asks you where your career is headed in the next 10-15 years, it's okay if you don't give them an answer."

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.

For more information, please contact Joy Sagabay ( or Amelia Henry (

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Training held on writing job profiles to aid career path process of local staff

Ninety-five IRRI HQ-based staff from a range of disciplines and job levels attended 4 half-day sessions of Writing Job Profiles, a training workshop held on 15 and 16 August 2012.

The training was jointly facilitated by IRRI's Human Resource Services and Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company. In the coming weeks, several country office-based staff will receive the same training.

Participants of this training will play an important role in the creation of standard job profiles, which is the first step in the development of career paths for nationally recruited staff. From the workshop, they learned to create a standard job profile through job analysis, discussed best practice in job profile development, and practiced creating job profiles using the new standard template for the purpose.

Participants will attend a follow-up session where they will get help developing the skills necessary to facilitate a series of focus group discussions, when many hundreds of IRRI staff will collaborate to draft a set of standard job profiles for the Institute. 

Inquiries on the development of career paths for nationally recruited staff can be made by email sent to or by contacting Sara at HQ ext. 2824 or Jhea on HQ ext. 2775.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

IRRI showcases research in Philippine agriculture fair

IRRI scientists and staff with DA-BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar (center).

The International Rice Research Institute joined several government agencies and businesses in the 8th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition on 9-12 August 2012 at Mega Trade Hall in SM Megamall.

IRRI's participation was a response to an invitation from Nicomedes Eleazar, director of the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR), through V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director general for communications and partnerships. The event was attached to DA-BAR's 25th anniversary celebrations and has the theme BAR@25: Celebrating R and D Excellence in Agriculture and Fisheries.

On exhibit were technologies and products from the Philippine regions including high-value crops, natural products and ingredients for health and wellness, and other ideas and techniques pertaining to organic agriculture, climate change, biofuels, livestock, and fisheries. Private entrepreneurs promoting their inventions and wellness products also took part.

The IRRI booth featured posters that showcased IRRI's partnership with the DA on the following areas: IRRI support for the Philippine Food Staple Sufficiency Program, Nutrient Manager, community seed-banking in the Arakan Valley, and rice cyber-villages in the Philippines.

IRRI scientist Rowena Castillo
demonstrates Nutrient Manager
for Rice
to farmers.
The Nutrient Manager for Rice team (Rowena Castillo, Efren Laureles, and Apple Suplido) interacted with visitors to the IRRI booth and answered questions on NMRice, especially of farmers from as far as the Visayas and Mindanao.

IRRI scientists Glenn Gregorio and Alvaro Pamplona provided expert advice to visitors who expressed interest in rice farming. Some of them said that listening to IRRI's experts had led them to consider rice farming after retirement.

IRRI gave away sample packs of brown rice, pirurutong or purple rice, and climate change-ready rice varieties (Tubigan or RC 238 and Sahod Ulan or RC 284).

Printed copies of Rice Today, information brochures, and Ang Mga Kwento ni Ryza (Nasa Tamang Nutrisyon ang Kalusugan ng Palay) in CD format were also available to visitors.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

South Korea: Training held on rice technology transfer systems

The two-week training course on rice technology transfer systems in Asia was held on 30 July-10 August 2012 at the International Technology Cooperation Center of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) in Suwon, South Korea.

The course was attended by 15 participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao-PDR, Nepal, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam and is on its twelfth offering. It has now  trained more than 160 middle-level research and extension officials from 18 countries.

The course was jointly sponsored by RDA and IRRI and aims to (1) show an example of a systematic technology transfer mechanism linking multiple stakeholders; (2) provide participants from Asian countries exposure to different models of technology transfer in rice and analyze components of successful research-extension linkages; (3) explore contemporary issues in the maintenance of effective technology transfer processes; (4) prepare participants to emulate selected models and experience rice technology transfer; and (5) create awareness of Korean development programs in each of the participant countries.

Resource persons were Noel Magor, David Shires, and Achu Arboleda from the IRRI Training Center and Kim Jung Gon, Young-Chan-Cho, Hyundong Lee, and Je-Kyu Kim from RDA.

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Rice breeding course ongoing in IRRI

Twenty-one participants from 10 countries came to IRRI to attend the annual Rice Breeding Course, one of IRRI's most popular training courses, on 1-16 August 2012.

Topics covered in the course include fundamentals of rice breeding (theory and practice), screening for biotic and abiotic stresses, experimental design and data analysis, and DNA marker-assisted selection. Attending the course is also an opportunity for participants to see methods currently used in IRRI's various breeding programs and learn about recent developments in rice science.

Participants were from PhilRice; the IRRI offices in Tanzania, Burundi, and India; and Meghalaya State in Northeast India. Those from Meghalaya will become the state’s first rice breeders and will be in IRRI until mid-September to undertake more rice breeding training.

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IRRI thesis intern wins best undergraduate thesis award

Wilson Aala, a former affiliate undergraduate thesis intern in IRRI, received the Undergraduate Best Thesis Award from Philobioscientia (UPLB Life Sciences Society) during the organization's 28th anniversary celebration on 2 August 2012.

Wilson's award-winning undergraduate thesis was titled Morphological and molecular characterization of novel salt-tolerant germplasms from the Philippines and Bangladesh. He was supervised by Glenn Gregorio, IRRI scientist and breeder.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bangladesh: Farmers use too much fertilizer, research says

A farmers’ participatory research in Bangladesh on site-specific nutrient management found that farmers use more fertilizer than necessary, resulting in added costs but not necessarily better production.

It established that farmers use more fertilizer than recommended by the BRRI and soil tests. The excess fertilizer costs an extra BDT 5025 per hectare, but is not resulting in more profit.

The findings were based on crop seasons aman 2011 and boro 2012. Also based on these two seasons, the farmers drew 'fertility maps' on which they determined optimum fertilizer use for various soil fertility gradients in each village. The farmers will also use the results of the next aman and boro seasons to further evaluate the practice.

The results of the participatory research, conducted in 65 farmers’ plots at 11 villages in the Jessore Sadar, Monirampur, Jhenaidah Sadar, and Kaligonj upazilas, was consolidated in two workshops held recently.

The study was conducted under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia project in Bangladesh (CSISA-BD), funded by USAID. It aimed to motivate farmers to use optimum fertilizer in rice production.

M.A. Mannan, additional director for the Jessore Region, commented on the approach being a good way to reduce fertilizer cost and requested its dissemination to other farmers and extension workers via the CSISA-Bangladesh project.

The workshops were held on 23 and 26 July in Jhenaidah and Jessore districts, respectively, with 69 farmer-researchers attending.

These were facilitated by A.K.M. Ferdous, cropping systems specialist; Ireen Sultana, agriculture development officer; and Md. Zahirul Islam and Md. Mozaharul Islam of the CSISA-Bangladesh project.

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IRRI staff celebrate birthdays to benefit poor children

Seven staff members of IRRI's Social Sciences Division who had their birthdays in July started a different way of celebrating: share the joy with less fortunate kids through Project ShoeBox of the 4th Light Armor (Masigasig) Batallion of the Philippine Army.

Project Shoebox is an outreach activity in which shoe boxes filled with school supplies and other goodies are solicited from donors and distributed to poor kids.

The birthday celebrators requested their friends, colleagues, and AISAS (an IRRI employee group) for shoe boxes and collected more than 170 of these—more than three times their goal of 50 boxes.

Beneficiaries of the activity were kids from select areas in the CALABARZON. The shoe boxes were turned over to the batallion through a simple ceremony led by Lt. Col. Thomas Sedano and his staff, held on 3 August at the SSD lobby in Drilon Hall.

Lt. Col. Sedano thanked the SSD staff and assured them that the shoe boxes will reach the schoolchildren of Masin Elementary School in Candelaria, Quezon Province.

The birthday celebrators were Flor Palis, Dehner de Leon, Malu Malabayabas, Aileen Maunahan, Rodmyr Datoon, Gen Todcor, and R.G. Sarmiento.

IRRI Sportsfest 2012 | Basketball season closes

The 2012 basketball season of the IRRI Sportsfest has ended for men's and women's divisions on 23 July and 3 August 2012, respectively.

In men's basketball, the Red Team emerged as champion in brackets A and B in the best-of-three series, while the Yellow Team won the championship for women's.

Other games that have concluded in this year’s Sportsfest are men's softball, football (mixed), and lawn tennis.

View team standings as of 3 August 2012.

Remaining events are badminton, bowling, men's volleyball, and women's volleyball. 

IRRI Sportsfest schedules and other updates

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three CGIAR centers conclude testing of new system at IRRI headquarters

IRRI, International Potato Center, and WorldFish wraps up the month-long (25 June-25 July) integrated testing of One Corporate System (OCS) held at IRRI Headquarters.

Key OCS users from IRRI’s human resources, project management, and finance units were given a special walk-through on the system's basic functionalities.

The series of tests was carried out by system builders with the assistance of consultants from UNIT 4. During the tests, system builders based at IRRI, led by Eric Clutario, put in working time that overlapped with those based around Asia and Peru, where CIP headquarters is located.

After the system test, IRRI system builders and key OCS users will be doing OCS localization, user acceptance testing, and end-user training over the next several weeks.

OCS is a new system aimed at helping improve the efficiency of IRRI's processes and increase collaboration among CGIAR centers. It will be implemented at IRRI headquarters in a phased rollout starting October 2012.                
Updates and more information available on the OCS website.