Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thailand: Agricultural machinery in focus at conference

A conference, Agricultural Machinery n Rice Production: A Challenge for ASEAN, was organized jointly by Naresuan University and the Thai Rice Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, highlighting mechanization options and new technologies.

It was held in Chiangmai on 26-28 November 2012 and was attended by 150 participants from nine countries that includes government policymakers, researchers and academics, and private sector representatives.

China: Rice planthopper project plans for 2013, holds international conference

Key partners of the ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper Project from China, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines met on 19-20 November 2012 to report on the progress of the various applications of ecological engineering, insecticide resistance monitoring, and upscaling activities in their respective countries.

Datasets were consolidated, data analyzed, and cross-country comparisons made in preparation for publication.

The project was granted a no-cost extension until December 2013, and partners also presented their respective work plans for the final year.

Laos: Workshop sums up impact of NRM technologies for rice

The impact of natural resource management technologies in rice production in Asia, as well as impact pathways, were consolidated in a workshop attended by 25 participants from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines.

The four-day workshop-writeshop is the culminating activity of the social science group of the Irrigated rice Research Consortium (IRRC) and sought to document and compile lessons learned on the impact pathways and impacts of IRRC technologies on the lives of rice farmers, rice-farming households, and rice-based farming communities in Asia.

Singapore: Rice figures on Asian food and lifestyle fest

Asian Masters, a series of Asian food and lifestyle events, is taking place this month (November) all over Singapore.

One of these events, the Masterchef Workshop held at Great World City, featured Lam Soon’s Naturel organic brown rice on center stage, whipped up by five top chefs into 10 dishes.

Singapore: First rice-growing contest held

The first rice-growing competition in Singapore was held on 5 November 2012, in conjunction with World Food Day.

The competition, jointly organized by IRRI Fund and Science Centre Singapore, had the theme Agricultural cooperatives—key to feeding the world and sought to equip teachers with knowledge in the life sciences, particularly in rice biology and geography, and skills to initiate rice-growing as a project in the schools.

Accountant group helps locals become more money-smart

Residents from IRRI's host communities, Bay and Los Baños, were participants in a recent training on effective business skills, held as part of the Institute's livelihood programs.

The half-day activity sought to provide an opportunity for these residents to achieve financial freedom for themselves through sustainable and income-generating livelihood projects.

AfricaRice breeder is guest in researchers' lunch

The monthly Young Researchers Lunch welcomed Baboucarr Manneh, irrigated rice breeder and coordinator of abiotic stresses projects in AfricaRice, as its guest for November.

Lunch attendees—Changrong Ye, Nurul Hidayatun, Yam kanta Gaihre, Samir Ebson Topno, Tahir Awan, and Zilhas Ahmed Jewel— were curious about Dr. Manneh's career and rice-growing conditions in Africa.

Rice database admins undergo training for certification

Six IRRI staff underwent the PostgreSQL Database Administration training course for eventual certification as database administrators, specifically for PostgreSQL DBMS.

The participants come from IRRI's Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division (William Eusebio, Jack Lagare, Victor Alcantara, and Allan Zarsuela) and Information Technology Services (Carlos Ortiz and Victor Alarcon) and all have critical roles in ensuring updated and relevant data to support IRRI's work in developing technologies to improve rice production.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Myanmar: Experts plan rice component of ACIAR-funded food security project

A planning meeting for a project on diversification and intensification of rice-based systems in lower Myanmar was held last week (12-13 November) in the Maubin township, Ayeyarwady.

The 4-year project will include research on cropping options to increase and sustain productivity of both rice-rice and rice-pulse cropping systems in the Ayeyarwady Delta and is one component of a program on improving food security and farmer livelihoods in Myanmar.

The program is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and AusAid and has four other components—grain legumes, fisheries, livestock, and socioeconomics.

Indonesia: In-country meeting held to discuss upland needs

The Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) and IRRI-Indonesia Office jointly organized a meeting held on 12 November 2012 in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia.

The meeting was held to review the program of research and development activities in rice-based systems in the uplands under CURE, with emphasis on community seed bank (CSB) activities; identify opportunities to exploit the comparative advantage of traditional varieties grown by upland communities, in relation to CSB activities; and explore further collaboration with CURE Indonesia on an ongoing program of CURE on CSB implementation.

Cambodia: Farmer field day and combine harvester discussion held in Battambang

Farmers view technology options from manufacturers
and contract service providers.
The Farmer Field Event and Combine Harvester Roundtable was held on 10-11 November 2012 in Battambang Province, hosted by Don Bosco School and Model Farm where IRRI and other Learning Alliance partners are conducting adaptive research and capacity-building among the community’s marginal smallholder rice farmers.

The Don Bosco School and Model Farm provides rice to their three  primary and secondary schools operating in Cambodia.

Philippines: Technoclinic held for farmers in Mountain Province

More than 30 rice farmers from the Cordillera Region in Northern Philippines attended a technoclinic held by IRRI and PhilRice scientists on 13 November 2012 in Barlig, Mountain Province.

Isabelita Oña, IRRI associate scientist, and Evelyn Gergon, PhilRice plant pathologist, answered questions from farmers on blast disease, rice bugs, worms, golden apple snails, leaf folder, birds, and rat infestation.

New scholarship launched

On the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first scholar at IRRI, the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees, and Residents in IRRI (AFSTRI) launched a scholarship program—the IRRI-AFSTRI Alumni Scholarship or IAAS.

The IAAS was formed out of the support and encouragement of several IRRI staff and alumni and aims to assist students of agricultural universities across the world who are in their final year of their bachelors or masters degree programs and who have shown academic excellence in preceding years of study.

Rice book for kids launched

Photos | Video

The Rice Book for Kids by Norma O. Chikiamco was launched before a wide-eyed audience of children from schools near IRRI, which hosted the event.

The 32-page book is a visual and colorful collection of facts about rice—how it is produced and processed, and how it is an important part of many cultures—written in simple and exciting language.

Cultural Night sees "peak of art genes expression"

Seventy-six IRRI staff and scholars from 14 countries showcased costumes, tradition, and culture with music, dance, and artistry on International Cultural Night (9 November 2012), seeking to rise to “the peak of art genes expression," which was the theme of the event.

Countries represented in the show were Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, India, China, Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, Canada, Myanmar, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Indian agriculture secretary signs up for stronger ties with IRRI

Photos | Video

Honorable Shri Ashish Bahuguna, secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India, signed a memorandum of agreement with IRRI on 10 November 2012 to further strengthen collaborations with one of the largest rice-producing and -consuming countries in the world.

Secretary Bahuguna was in IRRI 8-11 November 2012, accompanied by Reena Saha, director for crops, and R.K. Trivedi, deputy commissioner for seeds quality control in the Ministry.

Solutions hack their way into rice science

Photos | Videos

After many hours of intense hacking to produce apps for rice research over the weekend at IRRI, the SMART-supported BigAs Hackathon successfully culminated with the announcement of winners on Sunday, 11 November 2012.

The Hackathon was a two-day event that brought together computer programmers, software developers, graphic designers, and others in the IT industry to try and use their skills to solve technological challenges in agriculture.

Best research papers recognized in young scientists meet

The winning papers and authors in the 2012 IRRI Young Scientists Conference were recognized in a ceremony held on 9 November 2012 at IRRI Havener Auditorium. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director general for communications and partnerships, presented the awards to:

Tobias Kretzschmar (Gene validation of a major QTL for tolerance of anaerobic conditions during germination), first place; Genelou Atienza (Ubiquitous resistance to rice tungro spherical virus is mediated by a gene for translation initiation factor 4G), second place; and Taznoore Samine Khanam (Impact of rice price hike on poverty in Bangladesh), third place.

First young rice scientists' meet a success

Photos | Video

The first IRRI Young Scientists Conference (IYSC), themed Sustaining excellence in rice research, was successfully held at IRRI Headquarters on 8-9 November 2012, with more than 300 IRRI staff and researchers from other countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, India, Iran, and Tanzania) attending.

The event opened with encouraging messages from Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general; Achim Dobermann, head of IRRI's research; and Govinda Rizal, president of the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees, and Residents of IRRI (AFSTRI), which organized the conference. IRRI's leaders expressed anticipation of the initiative's continuation in the coming years.

Nepal recognizes three IRRI scientists

Three IRRI scientists, holding plaques of recognition (L-R):
Julian Lapitan, Thelma Paris, and Uma Shankar Singh
Three IRRI staff were awarded plaques of appreciation by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) during the workshop, Enhancing women’s livelihoods in rice-based farming systems, held at Hotel Annapurna in Kathmandu, Nepal, 4-6 November 2012:

Thelma Paris, senior scientist (socioeconomics) and gender specialist, was recognized for her contributions to the capacity building of women scientists, researchers, and farmers of Nepal as well as to research and development (R&D) in rice and rice-based cropping systems at grassroots level.

Book-signing for new children's book

The Rice Book for Kids, a new title by famous Filipino author Norma O. Chikiamco with Anvil Publishing Inc., will be launched on Monday morning (19 November) at Kari’s Garden in IRRI.

The new book, aimed at youngsters, includes facts about rice as part of our culture, trivia how rice is processed, what it takes to produce rice, and other things that are all written in a simple, easy-to-follow style. Besides yummy rice recipes, the creative illustrations aid in introducing rice to the younger audience.

IRRI is the source of much of the information in the book.

Bangladesh: Women in aquatic agriculture celebrated

A Bangladeshi woman farmer giving a presentation
during a workshop in Jessore.
The workshop, Women in Aquatic Agricultural Systems to celebrate International Day of Rural Women, was held on 4-5 November 2012 recognizing the role and contributions of rural women farmers in the agriculture and aquaculture sectors for eradicating poverty and hunger.

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) took part in the workshop by setting up a stall showcasing postharvest management activities on rice seeds. After harvest, the women farmers do the rest of the farm work--threshing, drying, storage, and selection of good seeds.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rice research in good hands as young IRRI scientists come together

IRRI's young scientists, as well as their more experienced colleagues, have come together for the 2012 IRRI Young Scientists Conference (IYSC) to share their work and insights on rice research, 8-9 November 2012 at IRRI Headquarters in Los Baños.

The conference is driven with the theme, Sustaining excellence in rice research, which hints of the current status of research in agriculture in general and rice in particular.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Exhibit opens to celebrate IRRI scholars

A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony today (7 November 2012) opened a month-long exhibit with the theme, Building the next generation of rice scientists: Beyond 50 years of IRRI scholarships, at IRRI headquarters. [Posters on exhibit]

The exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first scholar at IRRI in April 1962 and is sponsored by the IRRI Training Center and the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees, and Residents of IRRI (AFSTRI).

GRiSP oversight committee holds second meeting

The Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) Oversight Committee (OC) held its second annual meeting at IRRI on 13 October 2012, right after the GRiSP Global Science Forum.

The GRiSP Program Planning and Management Team also participated in the meeting, during which the following issues were raised:

Changes in the rice sector discussed in GRiSP science forum

The GRiSP Global Science Forum was held at IRRI on 11-12 October 2012, in two parts:

The first part was composed of discussions on structural changes in the rice sector. The drivers of structural transformations were identified as (1) a changed farmer population (labor becoming less available, older, and comprised mostly of women); (2) rising labor costs due to demand for labor that led to a greater need for mechanization, reliance on service providers, and land consolidation (through purchases, renting, or cooperation creating “virtual” large fields); and (3) a stronger private sector, which was transforming itself also into a knowledge delivery provider.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

IRRI Board of Trustees seeking new members

The IRRI Board of Trustees would like to solicit nominations for new members who will start their terms in 2014. Preference will be given to those who have expertise in finance and audit and are from Southeast Asia, East Asia, or South America. Female nominees are highly encouraged.

Three members complete their terms by the end of the year.

U.C.-Davis scientist scientist wins Louis Malassis Prize

Pamela Ronald, who has worked with IRRI scientists to develop Sub1 (or flood-tolerant) rice, is one of two winners of the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, launched by Agropolis Foundation. 

Pamela is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC-Davis. She has worked a lot to improve rice resistance to diseases and tolerance to flooding, which are serious problems of rice crops in Asia and Africa.

Full story on the GCARD blog

Vietnam: IRRI scientists receive awards for significant contributions in An Giang Province

An Giang, Vietnam—The Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) held an exit workshop on 22 October 2012 to formally wrap up IRRC country outreach program activities in the province. The IRRC had been working closely with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of An Giang during its fourth phase (2009-12).

During the workshop, the People’s Committee of An Giang Province presented plaques and certificates of recognition to IRRC coordinator Grant Singleton and IRRI scientist Flor Palis for their contributions to the province. 

IRRC sponsors cross-country exchange on Rice GAP

Ladda Viriyangkura of Thailand discusses
seed quality to Vietnamese colleagues.
An exchange between scientists from Thailand and Vietnam on the progress of their respective countries on Good Agriculture Practices for Rice (Rice GAP) took place on 21-27 October, facilitated by the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC).

Four Thai scientists, led by Ladda Viriyangkura from the Thai Rice Department, visited the Mekong Delta in Vietnam on 21-24 October and reported on the progress of the 1 Must Do, 5 Reductions program in An Giang.

27 attend post-production-to-market course

The 2-week Rice: Post-Production to Market course was conducted at IRRI Headquarters on 22 October-2 November 2012, with 27 participants from research, extension, NGO, and private sectors signed up to look into the critical issues and challenges in rice post-production.

The course will enhance capability of participants to (1) identify and measure losses in the post-production chain from harvest to market; (2) evaluate technology options for harvesting, threshing, drying, storage, and milling of paddy; and (3) learn the use of methodologies and tools to assess local postharvest chains and use business plans to introduce and scale out postharvest options.