Friday, October 31, 2014

Let market set rice prices, says expert

Photo by R. Raman (AfricaRice) 

by Lanie C. Reyes

BANGKOK, Thailand - “It is best to let the markets determine rice prices; it should not be dictated by the government.” This is what Vichai Sriprasert said during a plenary session at the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014) on 30 October in Bangkok, Thailand.

"Thailand had been the world's largest rice exporter for thirty years," said Mr. Vichai Sriprasert. He pointed out that the country became successful because of the free trade policy initiated by King Rama IV 150 years ago. Sriprasert is the president and CEO of Riceland International Ltd. and an honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Science and policy snippets from IRC2014 (October 30)

by the IRRI communication team

Public and private rice players promote sustainability standards

Partnerships among governments and the private sector are strengthening farmers’ skills in applying sustainable farming practices. These initiatives were shared by experts from around the world during the symposium, Mainstreaming Sustainable Rice – Rice Value Chain Global Transformation.

Topics included: (A) Sustainable rice: what is it and what is it worth?, by Sarah Beebout; (B) Voluntary standards and roundtables: what can we learn from other industries, by Hans Perk; (C) The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP): a global multi-stakeholder platform, by  Wyn Ellis; and (D) Sustainability and IRRI's ecological intensification platform, by James Quilty.

Private companies that work on rice also shared their programs aimed at helping farmers become good managers and environmental stewards by promoting sustainable farming practices.

Companies with sustainability campaigns include: (A) Mars food and sustainable rice sourcing, by Luc Beerens; (B) Bayer and a sustainable solution to strengthen rice production, by Mahesh Girdar; (C) The Kellogg's Origins Project: a real opportunity for rice farmers in Spain, by M. Català; and (D) Lousiana State University: rice sustainability and rice grower program, by Steven Linscombe.

Sustainability of farming environments and resilience of rice value chains are assured by making farmers understand and accept, complex scientific concepts around achieving sustainability.  This was what experts at the International Rice Congress, now happening in Bangkok, Thailand, proposed as a way to achieve an environmentally-sensitive rice industry.

Impact studies on rice science show positive results

Various impact assessment studies on IRRI varietal contributions and natural resource management (NRM) technologies were highlighted during a science symposium titled Frontiers in ex post impact assessment of rice technologies: What lessons can rice research institutions learn? Results showed positive returns on rice yield, household income, livelihood, and food security.

Rod Rejesus, symposium convener and professor from North Carolina State University, stated the importance of collaboration and partnership between rice scientists and impact assessment specialists. He added that the “consortium approach” was a good model for NRM diffusion. “With donors’ continued emphasis on impact," he added, "it is also important to have in place at the beginning of a project a social scientist who will do impact assessment, rather than at the end.”

Healthier rice to address double burden of malnutrition

Asia faces a "double burden" of malnutrition. While Asians continue to deal with problems of undernutrition, they are experiencing a rapid increase in noncommunicable disease, such as obesity and diabetes, which are brought about by overnutrition.

During the scientific session on Healthier and Nutritious Rice at IRC2014, developments in rice varieties with low-glycemic index, high-iron, and high, -zinc were presented. Also discussed was the research on increasing the nutrition content of oil obtained from rice bran.

Rice is the primary staple of Asians, and to ensure that it helps address both forms of malnutrition, scientists are developing healthier rice varieties and products. According Dr. Nese Sreenivasulu, head of IRRI’s Grain Quality and Nutrition Center, “while we know that the consumption of rice is not the primary cause of overnutrition or undernutrition, rice can play a huge role in addressing these forms of malnutrition.”

Both undernutrition and overnutrition exact heavy economic and social burdens on countries at all income levels. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the economic costs of malnutrition due to lost productivity and direct health care costs total US$3.5 trillion, per year, globally.

Unlocking rice genes with cutting edge science

During an Innovations in Rice Science session, scientists from different organizations discussed new technologies that aid in better understanding rice genetics, and how these technologies help make rice breeding more efficient.

Trait and gene discovery are precursors to the development of new rice varieties that possess desirable traits, such as flood, drought, and salinity resistance, while maintaining high yields and other preferred grain qualities.

Topics presented included: 1) Genome reshuffling populations to improve yield potential by T. Yamamoyo; 2) A nested association mapping population by Mathia Lorieux; 3) Multi-parent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) by Glenn Gregorio; and 4) Wheat magic, linking the genes that regulate flowering time to inflorescence architecture by Steve Swain. 

How do rice roots contribute to stress response and yield?

Advances in rice root biology research involve novel traits and genetic regions associated with root growth and stress response. Showcased in a symposium convened by IRRI physiologist Amelia Henry were new concepts, such as: (1) linking whole genome association mapping with functional genomics of rice root traits; (2) importance of plasticity in the rice root's response to drought; (3) hormone effects on root anatomy and biochemisty; and (4) the integration of root morphology and functionality in developing new rice root ideotypes.

These topics give light to how the roots of rice contribute to rice yield and the plant's stress response.

Around 1,500 participants from 69 countries are attending the 4th International Rice Congress, or IRC2014, at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

IRC2014 is being held under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and is touted as the “Olympics of rice science,” being the largest gathering of rice science and industry held every four years. 

For more information:  

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Broad agreement among Asian countries on rice research agenda

(Photo by T Lambino)
By Benedict Pamatmat and Leah Baroña-Cruz

BANGKOK, Thailand, 31 October 2014 - Senior agriculture officials of several Asian countries said that the research program of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) aligns well with their national priorities.

This is an important affirmation of IRRI’s research agenda, implemented under the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP). “IRRI considers this forum incredibly important in helping the Institute frame and prioritize what it does,” said Matthew Morell, deputy director general for research at IRRI. “It is a very important multilateral conversation for us to engage in.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nepal: IRRI signs 5-year rice research and development work plan with NARC

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC signed a 5-year work (2014-2019) plan to strengthen the country’s rice research and development program on 21 October in Kathmandu.

NARC-IRRI work plan 2014-2019 document was signed by Dil Bahadur Gurung, NARC executive director, and Matthew Morell, IRRI deputy director general-research, signed the plan in the presence of Bhartendu Mishra, Honorable Member in-charge for Agriculture, Science, and Labor in National Planning Commission.

Dr. Mishra, the chief guest of the function stressed the need for increased collaboration with IRRI because rice is the most important crop of Nepal. He acknowledged the role of IRRI in providing rice technologies and capacity building of research facilities, scientists and extension officers of Nepal.  Dr. Mishra said he will work with the Government of Nepal to make more resources available for rice research and development.

He also praised the contribution of scientists working on rice with very limited resources and advised them to continue to work on 14 collaborative projects identified and included in the current work plan. Dr. Mishra encouraged them to develop farmer-friendly rice technologies for easy adoption to enhance the productivity of rice in Nepal from the present levels of 3.2 tons per hectare.  He acknowledged that several climate resilient varieties have been developed jointly with IRRI by NARC scientists and these need to be made available to the farming communities by adopting faster dissemination methods.

Dr. Gurung expressed his gratitude for all the help IRRI has been providing Nepal in developing new rice varieties and technologies, and training for its scientists for over four decades. He said that the five year work plan is a very important and significant step that will further strengthen the ongoing collaborative rice research between Nepal and IRRI. He expressed full confidence that Nepal’s science community will make full use of IRRI’s global experience in addressing and overcoming local problems and impediments that hinder rice productivity. He also urged IRRI’s help in improving Nepal’s biotechnology and pathology facilities and hybrid rice development.

Dr. Gurung also acknowledge the guidance and leadership JK Ladha, IRRI representative for India and Nepal, has been providing to Nepal’s agricultural scientists during the past two decades through RWC, CSISA projects, and training of a new generation of rice scientists in the country.

Dr. Morell mentioned that, though IRRI HQ is located in the Philippines, the work it is doing is nothing but the sum of all the work carried out the collaborators across the rice growing world. He emphasized the Institute’s intent to work together and establish stronger partnership with national programs. He informed the gathering that the present work plan is just the start of building a systematic engagement in Nepal.

Dr. Ladha presented the Rice Research Strategy for Nepal, a document prepared by IRRI in collaboration with NARC, where the overall goal of the rice program is to increase rice yields by at least 3% per annum for the next two and a half decades. He highlighted the challenges rice cultivation facing and also provided a list of priority research portfolio for rice research and development.

Also present at the event were principle rice collaborators, directors and division heads of NARC. Dr. Bhaba Tripathi, senior associate scientist, IRRI Nepal Office facilitated proceedings. A detailed presentation of the 14 projects included in NARC-IRRI work plan was prepared by Mr. N. K. Yadav, rice coordinator and Mr. Ram Baran Yadav, NARC senior scientist.

IRRI and NARC launches the IRRI Nepal web site

Coinciding with the 5-year NARC-IRRI work plan signing, the two agencies launched the IRRI Nepal website on 21 October in Kathmandu. The website, designed developed by IRRI HQ and India IT teams,   contains information on IRRI collaborative work in Nepal and information on Nepal nationals who worked or are working in IRRI, Nepal scientists trained by IRRI, updates and IRRI events in Nepal. The web site was formally launched by Dr. Dil B. Gurung, NARC executive director, and Dr. Matthew Morell, IRRI deputy director general-research before NARES representatives and local media.

JK Ladha, IRRI representative for India and Nepal, demonstrated and navigated through the live website and explained contents and importance having the information accessible to the public. Dr. Ladha appealed to national partners to help make the web site a repository of knowledge on rice research in the country by contributing information from time to time.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Science and policy snippets from IRC2014 (October 29)

by the IRRI communication team

Ebola disrupts distribution in the global rice market, experts say

The disruption caused by Ebola on the global rice market is mainly on logistics and distribution, increasing cost of inputs and the price of rice. This view was shared by experts during the Global Rice Market and Trade Summit (GRMTS).

The Ebola-affected countries—Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone—import 900,000 tons from Asia, mainly India, according to Sam Mohanty, IRRI senior economist. “The volume is only less than 7% of the African rice trade.” With higher shipping cost, the price of rice in these countries increased by US$30-40 per ton.

“Trade has not taken a serious view of Ebola except on the largest single problem of shipping,” said Rajeev Raina, senior vice-president and global head on farming of Olam International, Ltd. He added that that the numbers are not yet big enough to have an impact on consumption or harvests.

Mapping rice

Information gaps in research and policy can be addressed by accurate depictions of rice growing activities around the globe through maps using remote-sensing (RS) technology.

At GRMTS, Andy Nelson, head of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory at IRRI spoke about the potentials of the technology in providing accurate and real-time information on rice.

"Remote-sensing has a role to play in assessing the vulnerability of the crop,” said Nelson.  By providing more accurate information on rice-growing areas and expected yields, maps generated through the technology can help governments manage domestic rice production and distribution, both during the normal growing cycle as well as after disasters.

Rice fields are regularly monitored using data obtained by satellite-borne radar sensors, which can observe vegetation growth regardless of cloud coverage. The maps are products of the integration of RS technology and crop modeling software, Oryza.

Transforming IRRI’s breeding agenda

Targeting a 2% genetic gain in rice yield will help the world meet the world's future rice requirement. To do that, IRRI's breeding program is implementing Transforming Rice Breeding (TRB), a project that reexamines breeding objectives, methods, and operations, and realigns pipelines to be more efficient and targeted. Key implementers of the transformation talked about steps being taken to facilitate the transition.

Glenn Gregorio described the establishment of centralized, cross-cutting breeding processes and services at IRRI’s Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division. The new system sees trait development teams supporting varietal development across all its programs. Bertrand Collard talked about transforming the IRRI irrigated breeding program, which includes establishing a revamped multi-location testing system, a precursor for multi-environmental trials and implementing modern designs and methods for data analysis, including mechanization for field nurseries and trials. Michael Thomson talked about upgrading and implementing high-throughput marker genotyping and supporting high volume information system needs of the breeders through Breeding4Rice, a new breeding information management system.

Grounded on the principles of demand-driven research, the new breeding structure is complemented by breeding hubs in South Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Breaking new yield ceilings

In another session at IRC2014, scientists Pravat Mohapatra, Michael Dingkuhn, and Tanguy Lafarge, who was also the moderator for the session, discussed increasing the yield potential of rice. A constant focus of rice research, work in this area has moved from exploiting physiological processes to a technique called ideotyping. An ideotype is a model plant that denotes certain desired characteristics. During this session, scientists discussed the design of high-yielding ideotypes and how they might be evaluated.

Around 1,500 participants from 69 countries are attending the 4th International Rice Congress, or IRC2014, at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

IRC2014 is being held under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and is touted as the “Olympics of rice science,” being the largest gathering of rice science and industry held every four years. 

For more information: 

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Conserving diversity, conserving options

Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), said that rescuing and conserving crop genetic diversity means giving our generation, and the next, the means to protect our sources of food.

“Genetic diversity is the prerequisite to food security. It is where the traits that help agriculture adapt to challenges of the future will be coming from,” said Haga.

Haga was the first plenary speaker at the ongoing 4th International Rice Congress, which has gathered 1,500 participants from 69 countries, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Continued partnerships key to success of agricultural research

“There couldn’t be a better career than one in agricultural research if you want to make a difference in the world,” said Matthew Morell, IRRI’s deputy director general for research.

Morell said this during a forum with international donors from the public and private sectors, research organizations, and other stakeholders of rice research and industry.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

India: IRRI research head meets with research partners

Matthew Morell, deputy director general-research of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), toured in India to review on-going IRRI collaborative activities and projects with Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), IRRI’s South Asia Breeding Hub at ICRISAT, and Bihar Agricultural University (BAU) on 12-20 October 2014. Dr. Morell was accompanied by Drs. Arvind Kumar, Sudhanshu Singh, Sudhir Yadav and Manzoor Dar.

GSR Project holds workshop on its progress and a planning meeting for phase III

The Green Super Rice (GSR) Project conducted a 3-day workshop on the progress of phase II and a planning meeting for phase III of the project on 23-25 October at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Headquarters, Philippines.

IRRI offers 'honest broker' role in global rice market

BANGKOK, Thailand - Equitable food security demands that the land produce enough, farmers profit, and the poor do not go hungry.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), added that well-informed governments will be in a better position to secure the food supply and to protect farmers and consumers in times of crises.

“We still feel the shocks of the 2007-08 rice price crisis, and the problems then were issues of a lack of transparency and accurate information,” Zeigler said.

Government policies make or break rice trade, says expert

BANGKOK, Thailand - National trade policies must adapt to changes in the global rice market for a healthy rice supply chain that’s anchored on market-driven rice prices.

This was proposed by Suthad Setboonsarng, economist and member of the board of Banpu PLC, one of the largest companies in Thailand, during the Global Rice Market and Trade Summit held at the Thai capital on 28-29 October 2014.

India’s basmati export increased by 50%

Sam Mohanty (Photo by G Salabsabin, IRRI)

BANGKOK, Thailand - “The value of India’s basmati export increased by 50% from US$3 billion to $ 4.5 billion this year,” said Sam Mohanty, senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Thanks to the country’s two major basmati varieties: Pusa 1121, a variety released in 2003 and Pusa Basmati 1509, which released in 2013. Pusa 1121 is a popular variety grown in 60% of India’s 2.6 million hectares of basmati rice production.

This was what Dr. Mohanty reported during the Global Rice Market and Trade Summit, held in Bangkok, Thailand, today (28 October 2014). The summit is a part of the 2014 International Rice Congress, the world's largest gathering of rice science and industry held every four years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

India: IRRI-STRASA-NFSM conduct hands-on training on seed production and storage techniques for men and women farmers

By Mayank Sharma and Manzoor H. Dar

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), through the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) and the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) collaborative projects, conducted practical trainings on quality seed production, seed testing, and safer storage in six eastern states of India where seed sector capacity building is a key component in the last week of September until 20 October 2014.

The hands-on trainings were conducted to teach marginal farmers advanced scientific methods in producing quality seed of rice and its proper storage for their own use as well as for dissemination to other farmers. The topics included seed cleaning before sowing, seed treatment, weed management, rouging, harvesting, threshing, and drying.  The activities were designed to encourage the participation of female farmers as their contribution to rice farming in India is immense.

A total of 2000 farmers in 70 districts of six eastern states were covered under IRRI-NFSM project for kharif in 2014. In the present season, IRRI-NFSM project demonstrated stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) in 10,000 hectares of flood- and drought-prone areas of eastern India which covered more than 25,000 farmers, 36% of them are women. The participants were also provided with the literature on STRVs and handbooks on the quality seed production in the local languages. Farmers who attended the STRVs demonstrations acknowledged that the training was the first of its kind offered in these remote areas.

Farmers in India, particularly in stress prone areas where public and private seed networks are not adequate, traditionally depend on their own seed from their rice yields for planting for the next season. Increasing their use of high quality seed will help increase their productivity.

The training activities were closely coordinated with the Department of Agriculture from the respective states. Representatives from Indian Council of Agricultural Research,  state agricultural universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (local agricultural extension centers), and other institutions also participated.

The IRRI-STRASA-NFSM training team is composed of Mayank Sharma, Sarvesh Shukla, Maneesh Dwivedi, Bhanu Bhadauria, Girija Swain, and Manzoor H. Dar.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Head of STRASA seed dissemination joins the October Young Researchers' Lunch

The Young Researchers' Lunch for October hosted Uma Shankar Singh, a plant pathologist and the South Asia Regional Coordinator of the Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) Project on 23 October 2014. STRASA has successfully developed and delivered climate-smart rice varieties to millions of farmers in unfavorable rice-growing environments.

Dr. Singh discussed the challenges and successes with the dissemination of stress-tolerant varieties with participants Prasad Senadheera, Ebna Rashid, Julius Ver Sagun, and Walter Israel. He emphasized that the success of the project was partly because it allowed for flexibility in its strategies and shifted its approaches when original plans did not work. He also gave examples of how dynamic leaders can speed up project development.

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

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

IRRI Training Center conducts workshop on effective presentation skills

Jerome C. Barradas

IRRI Training Center, in coordination with Global Rice Science Scholarships, conducted an Effective Presentation Skills Workshop on 23 October 2014 at IRRI Headquarters, Philippines. The one-day workshop is designed to develop and enhance the presentation skills of scholars, researchers, and scientists who will present their researches at the 2014 International Rice Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.
The workshop was attended by Chaivarakun Chaipanya, Teresita Folledo-Bueno, and Shiela Marie Selisana from Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division; Judith Galeng-Lawilao, Wanju Shi, and Anandhan Tamilselvan from Crop and Environmental Sciences Division; and Maria Teresa Clabita and Arnold Joseph Reyes from Training Center.  A major part of the workshop was the individual presentations of the participants which were then critiqued by the resource person.

Maria Socorro “Achu” Arboleda coordinated and facilitated the workshop.

For more training opportunities, please visit

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bangladesh, India and Nepal sign historic agreement in the evaluation of rice varieties

T.C. Dhoundiyal & U.S. Singh

The Secretaries of Agriculture of the Governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal signed a protocol on cooperation in the evaluation data of rice varieties released in their respective countries for release and commercialization. The agreement was made during the Regional Cooperation on Seed Issues workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal on 18 October 2014.

The protocol on regional cooperation, which applies to rice varieties developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and public sector organizations in the three countries, was hailed as historically significant by the agriculture executives.

“I firmly believe that signing of this agreement usher new era of collaboration and cooperation and will help in improving the livelihood of the poor farmers in the entire region,” said Dr. M. Nazul Islam, agriculture secretary of Bangladesh.

Nepal’s Department of Agriculture Secretary Jaya Mukund Khanal said “We have opportunities and options to improve the livelihood of poor farmers in the region. This cooperation will provide platform to share the good practices of one country to other and time has come to materialize that in real sense to benefit our clients, the farmers. The exchange of technologies and quality seed can help attain higher rice productivity in the region.”

Ashish Bahuguna, India’s agriculture secretary, stressed that while the agreement presently covers only rice, it can be extended to other crops later on. “This cooperation is not limited to seed sector, this will lead to agriculture development in the region,” Mr. Bahuguna said. “There is need to broaden this cooperation and replicate it to other part of the world. SAARC can play vital role in bringing in more countries to the platform.”

The agriculture officials also greatly appreciated the role played by IRRI in getting this agreement materialized in such a short period of time. “We should complement IRRI for bringing up with new ideas and platform to share the ideas and evolve the measure to concretise these ideas,” said Mr. Buhuguna.

The signing this agreement in South Asia has shown the way for regional cooperation, according to Robert Zeigler, IRRI’s director general.

 “This is a historic moment and truly a highest honor to our partnership in the region,” said Dr. Zeigler. “Scientific revolution has been taken place in rice research. The seed sector should adapt these technologies and have a seed system in place. We need to establish production system to make available quality seed, marketing mechanism to reach the farmers and develop better management of our technologies to realise the benefits of new technologies to the farmers.”

Farmers’ participation is equally important in value generation and developing new traits to accelerate the adoption of new technologies. The seed system should be responsive to new technologies to deliver the quality product to the farmers, Dr. Zeigler added.

Other officials at the event also welcomed the cooperative effort in the region.

“The regional cooperation in seed sector is milestone in achieving the food security and mitigating the climate change affect in the region,” said Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, executive director of Nepal Agricultural Research Council. “This agreement will go a long way to fast track varietal release and dissemination to meet the growing demand of the quality seed and enhancing the livelihood of the resource poor farmers.”

“It is essential to work towards reducing the time for the varietal evaluation and release and seed multiplication and out scaling to reach farmers in shortest possible time,” Uma Shankar Singh, South Asia Regional Project Coordinator (STRASA), said. “This could be achieved only through regional cooperation. The agreement will prove to be a milestone in this direction. It will also help in more efficient use of resources to take the scientific innovations to farmers by sharing the data and seed exchange.”

“In the past, we accrued the benefits of successful collaboration with IRRI thru STRASA project that helped develop rice varieties which can sustain submergence, salinity and drought and offered solution to threats posed by climate change,” said Dr. Jiwan Krishna Biswas, director general, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute. “The cooperation in seed sector will strengthen this partnership.”

In his remarks S.K. Datta, deputy director general (Crop Sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said “We need to harmonize most of the positive aspects and approaches in practice of all the three countries to benefit the farmers of the region in the shortest time.”

IRRI is playing vital catalytic role in crop improvement, bringing global sciences, scientific guidance and accelerating the process. Emphasis should be given to implementation of those sciences and policy decisions effectively and reduces the time in identifying the varieties and utilizing them across the borders, Dr. Datta added.

Regional Cooperation on Seed Issues was jointly organized by the Ministry of Agricultural Development of Nepal and IRRI and attended by about 45 delegates from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, IRRI, and international organizations based in Nepal.

Mr. Dharam Datta Baral, chief of Seed Quality Control Centre, Ministry of Agricultural Development, Nepal delivered the welcome address. Mr. Birendra Bahadur Hamal, deputy director general of Nepal’s Department of Agriculture gave the closing remarks.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IRRI conducts training on best practices and latest technologies in rice production

By Jerome C. Barradas

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center is conducting the Basics of Rice Production Course from 21 to 23 October at IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna. The three-day course provides an overview and updated best practices and latest technologies, from seed preparation to post-harvest practices, in wetland rice farming.

In addition to classroom lectures on rice breeding, physiology, water management, pests, and diseases, the course features experiential learning where participants “get their feet wet” through actual on-field farm operations.

There are 19 participants from Australia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the United States. Most of them are IRRI HQ-based staff who would like to learn rice production through hands-on activities.

The course is coordinated by Noel Magor, head of the Training Center, and Eugene C. Castro, Jr., senior research manager and course facilitator.

Basics of Rice Production Course is offered twice a year. This is the second offering for 2014.  For inquiries about this course and more training opportunities, please visit or send us an email at

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

IRRI, STRASA and PAU hold workshop on major rice pests and diseases in South Asia

STRASA (Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, India held a two-day review and planning workshop on major rice pests and diseases in South Asia at Punjab Agricultural University on 15-16 September. Twenty cooperators (13 from India , 3 from IRRI, 3 from Bangladesh. and 1 from Nepal)  involved in the Biotic stress program of STRASA participated in the workshop.

Among the resource speakers and topics discussed at the workshop are:

  • Dr. Karanjeet Thind, head of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, PAU, emphasized the importance of biotic stresses in development of stress tolerant rice.
  • Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, IRRI plant pathologist presented an overview of major rice diseases in South Asia and anticipated impact of global climate change on rice diseases. She also noted the importance of resistance breeding in sustainable management of plant diseases, which may take several approaches, with incorporation of biotic stress resistance being included as a major breeding objective.
  • Dr. Mukund Variar, principal scientist and officer-in-charge, Central Rainfed Rice Research Station Hazaribag, India presented population structure of blast pathogen in eastern India and pointed out that modern HYVs like Swarna harbor many pathogen lineages compared to traditional varieties. He reported that the combination of Pi-9 and Pita2 was most effective against all the pathotypes.
  • Dr. Bo Zhou, IRRI plant pathologist, reported the Avr gene-based tool for virulence diagnosis of rice blast pathogen useful for prediction of the putative durability of resistance gene(s). He also stressed the importance of searching  for new blast resistance genes/alleles from wild rice accessions. He reported that 6 Pik alleles from different accessions of O. glaberrima and 20 new Pi-2/Pi-9 alleles from O. rufipogon, O minuta and O. sativa have been identified.
  • Dr. M. S. Prasad, principal scientist, Plant Pathology, Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), Hyderabad, India explained the importance of AICRIP (All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Program) system for multi-location evaluation of breeding materials at different hotspot locations against blast disease. He also stressed on the increased incidence of false smut of rice in India.
  • Dr. S. S. Gosal, Director of Research, PAU mentioned that the intensity of diseases like bakanae, false smut and neck blast and insect pests like leaf folder have increased significantly due to changes in climatic conditions and changed cultivation practices.
  • Dr. P. P. Singh, head, Plant Pathology, PAU, emphasized the importance of careful classification of races of pathogens based on their reactions on differentials.
  • Dr. Arora, entomologist, PAU, reported that brown plant hopper (BPH) has become a major problem in Punjab and developed resistance against neo-nicotinoids.
  • Dr. R. K. Gumber,PAU, mentioned that the increase in area under basmati rice production has resulted in higher incidences of bakanae.
  • Dr. G. S. Laha, principal scientist, plant pathology, DRR, presented the distribution of bacterial blight of rice in India and explained characterization of pathogen under glasshouse condition. He mentioned that some strains of the pathogen in India can attack individually xa13 and Xa21 BB resistance genes.
  • Dr. P. S. Pannu, Dr. Mustafa Kamal, and Dr. Bedanand Chaudhury presented  current rice disease scenarios in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, respectively.
  • Dr. J. S. Lore, senior plant pathologist, PAU, explained the characterization of Xoo strains in Punjab. He mentioned that pathotype 7, virulent on Xa4, xa5, Xa7 and moderately virulent on Xa21, was most predominant in Punjab and pathotype 8 can attack IRBB55 (xa13 + Xa21).
  • Dr. P. S. Sarao, senior entomologist, PAU, explained seed box screening methodology against BPH under glass house condition. He also presented the use of SSR markers in characterizing BPH population.
  • Professor Kuldeep Singh, molecular biologist and director, Agricultural Biotechnology, PAU, gave a talk on the identification and utilization of new bacterial blight resistance genes from wild relatives of rice. He mentioned that a new BB resistance gene Xa38 has been identified and mapped from Oryza nivara which provides broad spectrum resistance against most of the pathotypes in Punjab. He also reported new BB resistance genes from accessions of Oryza glaberrima, O. barthi and and O. rufipogon.

Dr. J. S. Lore and Dr. Jyoti Jain made a practical demonstration on collection of BB infected samples from field, isolation of Xoo from infected leaves and its maintenance at the crop museum of PAU, BPH screening facility and rice biotechnology laboratory.

  • Professor Kuldeep Singh explained different field experiments in Rice Biotechnology.
  • Dr. G. S. Mangat, principal rice breeder, explained different rice breeding experiments .
  • Dr. Gulsan Mahajan, senior rice agronomist explained rice agronomy experiments.
  • Dr. J. S. Lore. Dr. D. S. Brar, hon. professor, PAU, Ludhiana and former IRRI plant breeder, demonstrated different bacterial blight experiments and pathotyping of Xoo strains.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Philippines: Rizal farmers introduced to environment-friendly pest management at DA-BAR/IRRI Open Field Day

By Finbarr Horgan

More than 60 farmers from Tanay and Pililla in Rizal Province, together with 10 officers from the Department of Agriculture (DA), visited the Rizal Agricultural Station (RAS) at Cuyumbay to discuss Ecological Engineering for Pest Management at the Open Day coordinated by International Rice Research Institute entomologists and RAS staff on 14 October.

A presentation at the RAS auditorium introduced the farmers to ecological engineering and informed about how they might initiate similar practices. Farmers were then informed about the management of insects, golden apple snails, rodents and birds through ecological engineering methods at the RAS field site.

The participants were welcomed by Mr. Billy Fortun, station manager, RAS, and Dr. Alexandra Jamoralin, DA-Regional Field Office 4A-Calabarzon. The event and related research activities were funded by the German Ministry of Science and Education as part of the LEGATO Project, the DA–Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), and the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Myanmar: IRRI and partners conduct quality rice seed production

The Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research (DAR), Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation conducted a hands-on training on quality rice seed production to improve the capacity of farmers, extension workers from both government and implementing partners, and seed producing agencies to produce quality rice seed that may ultimately increase the country’s rice productivity at Myaungmya Research Farm, Yezin from 29 September to 2 October.

The training was attended by 32 progressive farmers of LIFT A, LIFT B, ACIAR, and USAID projects with IRRI from Bogale, Mawlamyinegyun, Labutta, and Maubin townships; 13 staffs from local institutional partners (WHH, GRET, MercyCorps, Proximity Design, Radanar Ayar); and 3 Department of Agriculture (DOA) staffs. U Myint Aye, DOA district officer and U Htain Linn Tun, Myaungmya Research Farm Manager closed the session and distributed the certificates to all the participants.

The training was primarily aimed for sustainability of IRRI project in the delta region by enabling progressive farmers for seed purification and production for self-sufficiency to marketing through home-scale to community seed bank approach which plays a vital role in subsistence agriculture.

The hands-on training on quality rice seed production was based on principle of “learning by doing” and focused more on practical activities in the rice fields with only one classroom session on rice plant morphology, growth stages of rice, nursery bed establishment, crop management, quality seed production and quality control, and postharvest postharvest handling from seed drying to storage methods, and developing knowledge dissemination and action plans for quality seed production.

Practical demonstrations covered identification of distinct morphological characters of rice plant, seed purity and germination test, dry and wet bed preparation, transplanting, fertilizer calculations, panicle selection, panicle to row sowing, transplanting, rouging at different growth stages, and seed drying and storage.

The inaugural session was chaired by Dr. Romeo Labios, IRRI Scientist in Myanmar with Dr. Khin Maung Thet, IRRI-USAID scientist; and local officers from Department of Agriculture (DOA). U Myint Aye, district officer, and U Tin Myaung Nyein, township staff officer of Myaungmya area, provided the support and collaborated with IRRI in Myanmar.

The training was sponsored by LIFT-A project and Dr. Ye Tun Tun. IRRI-LIFT A team members (Dr. Swe Zin Myint Thein, May Nwe Soe, Sandar Winn, Aye Aye Thant, Aung Myat Thu, and Palal Moet Moet) coordinated and served as resource persons. Dr. R.K Singh, IRRI senior scientist, facilitated the event.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

IRRI and partners hold training on modern rice seed production

T.C. Dhoundiyal and Manzoor Hussain Dar

The International Rice Research Institute, in collaboration with Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the Directorate of Seed Research (DSR), and the National Seed Research and Technology Centre (NSRTC), organized an international hands-on training on quality rice seed production at BHU, Varanasi, India, on 6-10 October.

The aim of the training was to improve the skills of researchers and trainers in quality seed production and discuss seed production problems encountered by farmers, researchers, and pertinent agencies. The training included a series of lectures by eminent scientists and experts on varied topics on seed production, quality control, new innovations in seed research, post-harvest technologies, and storage.

Thirty participants from 10 South and Southeast Asian countries attended the training. Participants were exposed to a two-day rigorous hands-on field to nursery bed preparation, seed cleaning, field preparation, transplanting, rouging, among others. Rakesh Kumar Singh, senior scientist at IRRI and training coordinator, and Dr. P.K. Singh, professor, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, BHU demonstrated panicle selection, emasculation, tagging and bagging.

Participants also visited the seed processing unit of the university and apprised about seed processing techniques. The team visited the demonstration field and various laboratories at DSR for an overview of new seed management research and technologies.

Despite the use of modern production technologies it is still a great challenge to bridge the yield gap as average yield lies much below the attainable yield of rice varieties in the region. The seed being the basic input in agriculture, good quality seed alone can increase grain yield by 5-20%. In view of the importance of quality seed in enhancing rice productivity.

“It is important to ensure the purity of seed and availability of quality seed to cater the growing demand and increase the rice production,” said Prof. Ravi Pratap Singh, director of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences at BHU, during his opening remarks. “Optimization of water management technologies is also important to harness the potentials of high yielding rice varieties.”

Dr. Umesh S. Singh, IRRI senior scientist and STRASA South Asia Regional Project coordinator applauded the contribution of BHU in rice research and thanked the University for providing valuable support to the training. “It is important to tone and rebind, time and again the mechanism of quality seed production,” said Dr. U.S. Singh.

Mukesh Gautam, managing director, Uttar Pradesh Seed Development Corporation, distributed certificates to the participants at the end of the training. He also shared his insights on quality seed production and processing. “Production and productivity of rice increased considerably over the last 2-3 years in Uttar Pradesh with higher seed replacement rate,” Dr. Gautam. “The STRASA model is fine example of adoption of new technologies that increased rice yield in very short time.”

The training was concluded with vote of thanks by Dr. Manzoor Hussain Dar, senior associate acientist at IRRI.

Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Dr. S. Rajendra Prasad, director, DSR; Dr. R.K. Trivedi, director, NSRTC, Varanasi, and deputy commissioner for Quality Control, Ministry of Agriculture; and Dr. A. Vaishmapayan, dean of the College of Agriculture, BHU.

The training on quality rice seed production was supported by STRASA, CURE, GRiSP, IRRI, BHU, and Trukai Industries Ltd, Papua New Guinea.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).