Thursday, August 28, 2014

Invitation to attend IRC2014

Dr. Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) invites the global rice community to participate in the upcoming 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014) on 27 October-1 November 2014, at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Bangkok, Thailand.

The IRC2014 theme—Rice for the World—highlights IRC as the largest regular conference and exhibition of the global rice scientific research community and industry.  About 2,000 rice scientists and rice industry players from all over the world are expected to participate in IRC2014.  Thousands of Thai rice entrepreneurs, government officials, extension workers, and farmers will also visit the industry exhibits.

The roster of speakers include Ms. Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust; Dr. Thomas Reardon, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University; Mr. Vichai Sriprasert, Honorary President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association and CEO of Riceland International Ltd.; Dr. John Colbourne of the Environmental Genomics in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, UK, and Mr. Mark Lynas, environmental campaigner, journalist, and author.

Held under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, IRC2014 is organized by IRRI and Kenes MP Asia Pte. Ltd.

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UPLB honors Julian Lapitan for establishing excellent relationship between IRRI and its partners

Julian Lapitan, the Partnership manager of IRRI, has been selected to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award for International Service and Extension by the UPLB College of Agriculture Alumni Association. The award will be given during the Alumni Fellowship and Awarding Ceremony on 9 October 2014.

Through his extensive work, which spans 27 years, Mr. Lapitan is instrumental in developing and maintaining excellent and productive relationship between IRRI and various national agricultural research and extension systems and other partners in Asia and Africa.

He has received several awards from various countries for his contribution to rural and agricultural development. Among his many achievements in international services and cooperation includes an ADB funded-action research project that improved postharvest crop management, rice biomass utilization, and rice farming systems diversification at the village level. This led to enhanced income and employment in the Asian rice-based farming communities.

Moreover, Mr. Lapitan managed several IRRI projects that provided relevant human capacity building in the respective research and development systems in Bhutan, North Korea, and the Republic of Korea. He also served as IRRI representative to the Technical Management Committee of the Regional Rice Research Center in Iran and was involved in various project development and management in different capacities.

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Green Super Rice Project organizes training in enhancing the crop management skills of Indonesian researchers and extension agents

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Indonesian Center for Rice Research (ICRR) jointly organized a Green Super Rice (GSR) training for Indonesian researchers and extension agents in Sukamandi, Indonesia on 21-22 August.  The primary objective of the activity was to enhance the skills of extension agents in crop management practices for newly identified GSR cultivars for varietal release and effectively transfer this knowledge to farmers in target regions in Indonesia.

“Green super rice concept of producing more yields from lesser chemical and water inputs in an environmentally sustainable manner is exactly what ICRR is currently pursuing for its rice farmers,” Dr. Made Jana Mejaya, director general of ICRR, said in his opening remarks.

Jauhar Ali, senior plant breeder and IRRI-GSR Project Leader, presented the current status of GSR project in Asia and East and Southern Africa while Dr. Untung Susanto, GSR project coordinator at ICRR, gave a status report on the project in Indonesia and the performance of GSR cultivars in the country.

“An additional ton of rice in the rain-fed and irrigated lowlands will change the livelihoods of millions of resource-poor farmers by providing them with a sustained income source,” said Dr. Ali.  “It could set them free from the clutches of poverty and put them on the road to prosperity.”

The 30 participants were trained on site specific nutrient management, integrated pest management, and inbred seed production tools and strategies by Dr. Zulkifli Zaini, Dr. Rahmini, and Sri Wahyuni, respectively. Avigail Cosico of Biometrics and Breeding Informatics-IRRI provided training on two newly developed IRRI softwares: Plant Breeding Tools and Statistical Tools for Agricutural Research. 

Each course participant is expected to train a minimum of 100 farmers.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bio-environmental engineer at Young Researchers' Lunch for August

The Young Researchers' Lunch for August hosted Dennis Baldocchi, professor of Biometeorology at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.  Dr. Baldocchi, who was visiting IRRI for the AsiaFlux workshop, is an expert in the study of the interactions between life and its surrounding environment. His research at the Biometeorology Lab includes seasonally flooded peatlands and rice paddies with access to shallow water tables.

Hyun-Hwoi Ku, Samir Topno, James Quilty, Jean Rodrigue Sangare, Abraham Shaibu, and Abdourasmane Konate attended the event.  The group engaged in an active discussion about rice irrigation, fertilizer, and straw management practices that can affect gas emissions.

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.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CCAFS-SEA kick​s​ off first media workshop on how to report about climate change with impact

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security ​ - Southeast Asia​ (CCAFS​-SEA​) held ​its first media seminar-workshop on reporting about climate change on 14-15 August at ​Splash Mountain, Los Banos, Laguna and ​IRRI headquarters. The workshop focused on the importance of having an accurate and science-based understanding of climate change, agriculture, and food security in reporting environmental issues more effectively.

​"CCAFS’ strategic communication objective is getting climate change into ​ ​agriculture policies and agriculture into climate change policies​," stated Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, CCAFS-SEA's regional program leader.

 " Through the help of the media, we hope to engage policymakers and key stakeholders ​to include agriculture in the climate change and agriculture ​ ​agenda and to mobilize stakeholders for collective action toward mitigation and adaptation​," he furthers​.

​The workshop also featured climate change mitigation ​initiatives by IRRI, International Potato Center ​​, World Agroforestry Centre, and WorldFish.​ Media partners also shared insights and tips on how to package climate change information to effectively convey desired messages to the public.​

Around 30 Philippine journalists and media professionals attended the workshop comprising the broadcast, print and online media.  ​

A first of a series, the media seminar-workshop will also be organized in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

CCAFS is a strategic research partnership of the CGIAR and Future Earth. It is led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) globally, and IRRI in Southeast Asia. ​

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Monday, August 18, 2014

A study on bats begins at IRRI

By Trina Leah Mendoza

IRRI researchers got their first taste of studying bats in rice field ecosystems in August as part of a collaborative research with Lawrence University, USA, and the University of the Philippine Los BaƱos (UPLB). The preliminary research aims to find out: (1) which bat species are foraging in IRRI rice fields, (2) whether bat and insect activity vary throughout the night, and (3) do Asian housebats (Scotophilus kuhlii), which are abundant in the Philippines, consume rice pests.

Jodi Sedlock, associate professor of biology at Lawrence University, who has been studying mammals in the Philippines since 1996, is interested in finding out if bats contribute to insect pest management, and in what way. Dr. Sedlock worked with researchers from the Animal Biology Division of UPLB along with research teams led by Dr. Alex Stuart, postdoctoral fellow with the Closing Rice Yield Gaps with Reduced Environmental Footprint Project, and Dr. Finbarr Horgan, IRRI entomologist, respectively.

The researchers sampled nocturnal insects and simultaneously monitored bat activity. They captured bats foraging over rice
fields and in nearby buildings, and collected fecal samples to check if their diet corresponded with the insects in the fields.

“We were pleasantly surprised to capture an orange-fingered Myotis, a beautiful but rarely captured bat, foraging over the IRRI rice fields.” Dr. Sedlock shares. “This finding underscores how little we know about rice ecosystems with respect to bats."

Results from the 2-week study will help guide further research and design of a longer-term project and in refining the methodology. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Sedlock. “I suspect that, as sampling continues, there will be more bat surprises coming from the rice fields of IRRI.”

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Friday, August 15, 2014

C4 Rice postdoc researcher wins best poster at New Phytologist symposium

Shanta Karki, a postdoc researcher at C4 Rice Center, was awarded the best poster during the New Phytologist next generation scientists on 29–30 July at John Innes Conference Centre, Norwich, UK.

Dr. Karki’s poster, Creation of C4 rice through genetic engineering, summarized the progress made by the Center in converting the photosynthetic system in rice to the more efficient, supercharged C4 system used by maize.

The New Phytologist symposium provides researchers in the early stages of their careers the opportunity to share their work with their peers and outstanding international scientists and make great strides towards improving their future prospects.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

IRRI conducts training in the latest rice production technologies for African research technicians

By JCBarradas and MSSArboleda

IRRI Training, in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is conducting a rice production and post-production techniques course for research technicians from different member countries of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) from July 18 to August 15 at IRRI Headquarters, Philippines.

The three-week course includes lectures and field activities facilitated by IRRI scientists that include the latest technologies in rice farming, the importance of innovative plant science practices, and seed-to-market rice farming. Participants will also visit to the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Nueva Ecija, and interview and interact with farmers about traditional rice farming practices in Banaue in the province of Ifugao.

Fifteen research technicians from  Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Guinea, Mali, Tanzania, and Togo are expected to return to their respective countries and apply the knowledge and skills they gain from the training as part of the overall initiative of CARD to increase rice production in Africa.

The course on latest rice production technologies is coordinated by Dr. Noel Magor, head of IRRI Training, and Eugene Castro, Jr. This is the last in a series of trainings on research and extension for rice workers in Africa managed and hosted by IRRI with funding support from JICA.

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DA-BAR recognizes IRRI’s contributions to the improvement of the plight of Filipino farmers

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) cited IRRI’s efforts to strengthen partnership and establish collaborations to introduce technologies that will benefit and improve the lives of Filipino farmers during the 10th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition and the 27th Bureau of Agricultural Research anniversary on 8 August.

Dr. Nicomedes Eleazar, BAR director, gave the welcome remarks during the opening ceremonies. ICRISAT’s Director General William Dar and Sorsogon Representative Evelina Escudero shared inspirational messages. The keynote address was delivered by Romeo Recide, assistant secretary for Policy and Planning, on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Dr. Bruce Tolentino, IRRI’s deputy director general for communication and partnerships, accepted the plaque of recognition.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Breeders and soil scientists join training fellowship on sustainable rice production systems in the midst of climate change

By JCBarradas and MAMaghuyop

IRRI Training Center, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), conducted a Regional group fellowship on phenotyping and integrated plant mutation breeding with best fit soil and water management practices for climate change adaptation from 01 to 25 July at IRRI Headquarters. The knowledge gained from the fellowship can help rice workers in creating sustainable rice production systems to ensure food security in the midst of climate change.

IAEA engaged Mr. Qing-Yao Shu of Zhejiang University, Mr. Roland Rallos of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, and Ms. Thelma Padolina and Dr. Jasper Tallada of Philippine Rice Research Institute as resource persons. Experts from CESD and PBGB also served as resource persons.

Participants included 21 fellows from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The fellows were updated with modern nuclear techniques used in mutation breeding, crop improvement and resource management. Other topics include how abiotic stresses affect rice production and the best water, soil, nutrient, and crop management practices in less favorable environments. In addition, they also had hands-on laboratory exercises for assessing plant responses to weather and soil problems for proper management. Lastly, the fellows were taught ICT tools to help increase the levels of communication and collaboration among participating agricultural institutions.

 The training fellowship was coordinated by Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail with Ms. Angie Maghuyop as the course facilitator.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IRRI holds workshop on identifying farmer-friendly bird species in rice fields

By Finbarr Horgan

A bird identification workshop was held at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) HQ on 30 July. Richard Smedley and Clare Jones, IRRI’s resident bird experts, presented different survey methods used during ornithological research to 12 participants. Participants learned the main characteristics, unique behaviors, and songs of the most common birds encountered in rice fields. The workshop ended with field practice at the Experimental Station.

With these new skills, IRRI researchers will examine whether the careful management of rice fields, together with ecological engineering practices, can create suitable habitats for wild birds and consequently reduce insect and snail populations. Ecological engineering provides suitable habitat for perching and nesting that promotes bird foraging. Swallows and kingfishers, which both feed on insects, were more commonly seen at ecological engineering plots than at adjacent control (conventional rice) plots during experiments conducted in the 2014 dry season. Researchers hope to better quantify these trends during the wet season.

Barn swallows perching at ecological engineering field plots in IRRI 

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Jagdish K. Ladha awarded CSSA’s highest honor

Jagdish K. Ladha, principal scientist and country representative for India and Nepal, has been given the 2014 Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) Fellowship Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the Society.

Recognized internationally for his expertise in soil science and agronomy, Dr. Ladha provides leadership in developing and fulfilling IRRI’s research agenda on crop and resource management in South Asia.  Through his work at IRRI, which spans more than 30 years, Dr. Ladha has developed, refined, and adopted on a large scale several resource-conserving technologies to help farmers. These include laser-leveling, minimum tillage, direct-seeded rice, and need-based management of nitrogen. Moreover, his leadership has been instrumental in bringing together innovators, investors, and implementers to develop and promote the rice-wheat system and region-specific technologies.

He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences in India.

Each year, CSSA awards members based on their professional achievements and commendable service. Founded in 1955, the international scientific society has more than 6,000 members worldwide with expertise on crop science.

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IRRI holds pilot course on the challenges of Asia’s changing rice industry

By JCBarradas and MSArboleda

IRRI Training Center is conducting the Rice industry agriculture services training course from 06 July to 27 September at IRRI Headquarters. The 11-week pilot course is designed to train professional extension agents help farmers face the challenges of Asia’s rapidly changing rice industry.

Fourteen participants from the public and private sectors are learning up-to-date technical knowledge in rice production and the latest ICT tools for working with farmers, developing extension materials, and operating within a multi-actor rice industry environment.

The training was initiated in collaboration with PT Pupuk Indonesia (Persero), the largest fertilizer manufacturer in Southeast Asia, and the first company of its kind to support national development in enhancing national food security in Indonesia.

The Rice industry agriculture services training course was designed by Jason Beebout, Noel Magor, Roland Buresh and Joseph Rickman.  Maria Socorro Arboleda is the course facilitator.

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