Monday, April 4, 2016

Thai Rice Department and IRRI intensify joint R&D program

Anan Suwannarat, director general of the Thai Rice Department, and his group are on a visit at IRRI
headquarters to check out the work being done and discuss with scientists the implementation of new
research programs for Thailand. Showing the group around the experimental plots is Yoichiro Kato,
IRRI scientist. (Photo by IRRI Images/Gani Serrano)
LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—The Royal Government of Thailand is set to strengthen research and development ties with the International Rice Research Institute. The director general and senior officers of the Thai Rice Department (TRD) are at IRRI headquarters today (4 April) to further flesh out the collaboration with scientists.

Leading the Thai group is Anan Suwannarat, director general of the Rice Department of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The visit is part of a series of meetings between the two parties in which implementation of a fresh set of collaborative research programs for Thailand, with funding support provided by the Thai government, is discussed.

“Thailand is among the world's top rice exporters and the government is keen on keeping Thai rice competitive in the global market, particularly in the face of climate change,” said Matthew Morell, IRRI director general.

At the most recent meeting between TRD and IRRI in Bangkok in March 2016, the following were named priority areas for new programs: climate change, specifically drought and water-use efficiency research; upgrading of the Thai Rice Knowledge Bank; and grain quality.

As part of scientific exchange activities for 2016, IRRI scientists will provide assistance on the priority areas listed above, while Thai scientists will be coming to IRRI to build their capacity on mechanization, phenotyping, breeding for salinity and heat tolerance, genebank development, and training course development.

“The Thai rice sector has benefited tremendously from advances in rice technology originating from IRRI research over the last five decades,” said Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships. “Thailand and IRRI are continuing to collaborate to meet the challenges of ASEAN 2015 and climate change.”

As part of the visit, the group from the Thai Rice Department will be touring IRRI’s new phenotyping facility as well as the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) to learn more about the seed system used by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice).

With Dr. Suwannarat are Suwat Jearakongman, director of the Bureau of Rice Research and Development; Somsong Chotechuen, rice genetics expert; Varapong Chamarerk, rice biotechnology expert; and Nisanath Churthong, agricultural research officer.

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