Friday, October 9, 2015

Thailand invests in partnership-driven rice research

In an effort to further implement the rice research agenda of the country, the Royal Thai Government through the Rice Department recently approved annual donation of THB 3,600,000 (equivalent of USD 100,000) starting fiscal year 2014-2015 to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

In a letter addressed to the Thai Rice Department Director General Anan Suwannarat, IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler acknowledged the funding contribution. “We once again take this time to convey our deep gratitude to the Royal Thai Government for its support of IRRI and its mission,” Zeigler stated.

The funding donation will greatly support the collaboration between IRRI and the Thai Rice Department toward achieving the goals set forth in the country's research agenda.

IRRI Deputy Director for Communication and Partnerships Bruce Tolentino explains the goals of this collaboration. “As Thailand faces more complex and more serious challenges in this modern era, the country's policymakers are adjusting their domestic policies to strengthen the competitiveness of Thai rice in the face of growing competition from major producers such as Vietnam and India, and from newer competitors such as Myanmar,” he said. “The impacts of climate change will become more serious over the long term. Thailand must also raise farm yields, which requires the rapid strengthening of the national agriculture R&D system to ensure the availability of technology adapted to Thailand and readily accepted by Thai farmers,” Tolentino added.

Since its collaboration in 1960 when IRRI was established, Thailand has been a staunch supporter of institute’s research. Key achievements of this partnership include improvements in deepwater rice culture and development of new rice varieties that can tolerate flood and drought. IRRI and Thailand have been working together to improve rice production and enhance capacities of Thai rice researchers.

In October 2014, the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014)—the largest regular conference and exhibition of the global rice scientific research community and industry—was held in Bangkok under the patronage of the Royal Government of Thailand, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Thailand hosted, co-organized, and provided financial support for IRC2014. The country was chosen as the location for the congress as it is a key player in world rice trade. Dubbed the “Olympics of rice science,” IRC2014 gathered around 1,500 participants from 69 countries. The event highlighted the latest in rice research to ensure global food security.

With 16 partner countries, IRRI now explores partnerships with many nations to meet their specific local needs where traditional donor agencies lag behind in carrying out research activities. Collaborative funding arrangements between IRRI and countries, such as India, the Philippines, and now, Thailand, helps these nations become not only beneficiaries but partners of their own research initiatives.

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