Thursday, June 16, 2016

Visit of Nepal's agriculture secretary strengthens partnership with IRRI

by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar

Secretary Bhattarai | Photos: I. Serrano/IRRI
LOS BAÑOS, Philippines, 6-9 June 2016—The four-day visit to the headquarters of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) of Shri Uttam Kumar Bhattarai (photo at right), secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), has paved the way for stronger collaboration, particularly in helping the country attain rice self-sufficiency.

IRRI and Nepal currently have several major activities, the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Accelerating the Adoption of Stress-Tolerant Varieties by smallholder farmers in Nepal (USAID-ASTV), funded by the United States Agency for International Development; and the Improved crop management and strengthened seed system for drought-prone rainfed lowlands in South Asia, funded by the European Commission-International Fund for Agricultural Development (EC-IFAD).

The interactions (bottom two photos) between Secretary Bhattarai, senior Nepalese government officials from various agencies, and IRRI officials resulted in the strengthening of the country host agreement to further boost work on rice production and capacity building of national partners. It also highlighted the dissemination of the stress-tolerant rice varieties in various districts of Nepal through the STRASA and USAID-ASTV projects. In addition, a joint IRRI-Nepal meeting held at the Asian Development Bank explored sources of funding to expand research and development activities to improve Nepal’s rice sector. 

The Secretary and his party toured IRRI's Zeigler Experiment Station, International Rice Genebank, Grain Quality and Nutrition Center, and rice breeding and postharvest facilities. The tours showcased areas where IRRI can help Nepal in its efforts to sustainably increase rice production and reduce rice importation.

Bruce Tolentino, deputy director general for communication and partnerships, and Jacqueline Hughes, deputy director general for research (3rd and 4th from right, respectively, in above photo), welcomed the party. Also present were Corinta Guerta (2nd from right, 2nd row), director for external relations, and IRRI scientists Abdel Ismail (extreme left), David Johnson, and Umesh Singh (center of 2nd row). The four-day visit was facilitated by the STRASA and USAID-ASTV projects as part of the efforts to enhance collaboration and awareness of national program leaders in South Asia.

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