Thursday, March 17, 2016

South Korea appoints IRRI plant breeder as honorary scientist

JEONJU, South Korea—The Rural Development Administration (RDA) of South Korea has appointed Kshirod K. Jena as honorary scientist and adviser on agricultural science and technology effective from January 2016 through December 2018. Jena (far right in blue shirt in photo), a principal scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), received the appointment from RDA Administrator Yang-ho Lee.

“Jena's appointment attests to the trust built through decades of collaboration between South Korea and IRRI,” said Abdelbagi Ismail, acting IRRI deputy director general for research. “It also highlights IRRI’s contribution to South Korea through the institute’s strong expertise and capacities of its scientists.”

Jena worked with IRRI’s partners in South Korea through RDA for more than 10 years. He contributed significantly to the improvement of the country’s elite japonica varieties by making these varieties pest- and disease-resistant as well as cold-tolerant.

“Japonica rice generally has narrow genetic diversity,” said Jena. “But through IRRI’s diverse pool of genetic resources in its genebank, many important traits have been introduced into South Korea’s elite japonica varieties. These traits respond to the problems of blast, bacterial blight, brown planthopper (BPH), and cold stress, and increased yield potential.”

His work on ANMI, an improved high-yielding japonica variety that has BPH resistance, is also a noteworthy part of his research. “Anmi” means safe and delicious because it requires less pesticides and its quality is preferred by consumers.
Also worth mentioning is Jena’s significant contribution to the Temperate Rice Research Consortium (TRRC), a partnership platform for the development and improvement of japonica rice. RDA has been supporting TRRC since its founding in 2007 in Suwon, South Korea, with annual funding of USD 190,000.

South Korea has been collaborating with IRRI through RDA in breeding temperate japonica rice variety with tropically grown indica variety. As a result, this produced the rice variety Tong-il, which transformed Korea in the 1970s from a rice importer to a self-sufficient producer.

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