Wednesday, August 17, 2016

JICA representatives in the Philippines briefed on partnership projects with IRRI

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines, 15 August—Representatives in the Philippines for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) were recently briefed on collaborative projects with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

JICA reps Morita and Ito with Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director
general for communication and partnerships.
Isusumu Ito (center in photo) and Takahiro Morita (left in photo), chief and senior JICA reps, respectively, received updates on the Wonder Rice Initiative for Food Security and Health (WISH) project and training activities with IRRI.

Under WISH, scientists from JICA, Nagoya University, and IRRI have teamed up to raise rice production by developing new disease-resistant, high-yielding rice varieties. With conventional cross breeding, the scientists are using a rice improvement technique in which desired traits from specific rice varieties are marked for transfer to identified Asian and African varieties that are preferred by farmers.

The representatives also reviewed the capacity-building workshops conducted by the IRRI Training Center under the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). JICA has been working with IRRI in Africa since the launch of CARD in 2008. Through the support of JICA and IRRI—in partnership with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)—training has involved rice production techniques, season-long courses for extension agronomists, and producing quality breeder and foundation seed.

“The presentations confirmed the good progress of the projects,” said Ito. “IRRI is a center of excellence and JICA is the largest bilateral development organizations in the world. Our institutions work well together. We find our collaboration excellent.”

Significantly, these activities are the first to receive direct funding from JICA, according to Corinta Guerta, director for external relations at IRRI.  “This is the first time JICA has provided funding to a nongovernment organization such as IRRI,” she said. “Under this new funding model, JICA, IRRI, and PhilRice are able to work closely and our progress and accomplishments are directly monitored by JICA. I think it will be a very useful model for future collaboration.”

Dr. Noel Magor, head of IRRI's Training Center, commended the direct relationship between JICA and IRRI. “The training program for the 23 CARD countries would have not been possible if the project was not a direct agreement between JICA and IRRI,” he said.

Aside from these two activities, IRRI and JICA are now actively discussing training for extension workers in Afghanistan.

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