Thursday, October 20, 2016

JICA, PhilRice, and IRRI team up to develop Africa’s rice seed sector

MANILA, Philippines—Increases in rice consumption in Africa have outpaced the continent’s rice production, according to Jason Beebout, the leader of a capacity-building project for Africa being supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “This is why there is a need for training programs aimed at increasing rice production beginning with the seed sector,” he said.

JICA, PhilRice, and IRRI have joined forces to help several African countries develop their respective rice seed sector. The three organizations formalized this partnership during a brief ceremony for the signing of the agreement at the JICA Philippine Office on 18 October.

In the agreement, which is part of the Extension for Capacity Development for Rice Food Security in Africa, IRRI is partnering with PhilRice in training the next generation of seed production professionals from member countries of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). In 2017, two 8-week training courses on rice seed production and extension will be conducted by PhilRice for selected participants from CARD countries. The overall extension capacity project started in March and will continue until 2019.

The agreement was signed by Corinta Guerta, IRRI director for External Relations, and Dr. Sailila Abdula, PhilRice executive director, in the presence of Susumu Ito, JICA’s chief representative at the Philippine Office. (See photo)

"This three-party cooperation among JICA, PhilRice, and IRRI is an important milestone for the IRRI-Japan partnership that dates back to 1960,” said Guerta. “It is first time we have a direct collaborative program with JICA, which made it possible for IRRI and PhilRice to hold the season-long training on rice production techniques for extension agronomists from 23 CARD countries.”

“The signing ceremony is symbolic of a strong partnership that is at the heart of JICA's activities,” said Ito. “JICA is very pleased that its support to PhilRice during the early years is now bearing fruit through its contributions to sharing knowledge with Africa. I hope that by working together, IRRI, JICA, and PhilRice may be able to improve food security for all.”

This is not the first time IRRI and PhilRice have worked together to train researchers, technicians, and extension workers from Africa. During the first phase of the IRRI-JICA collaboration, they trained 142 participants from various African countries.  Earlier this year, IRRI also conducted two 3-week training programs on quality breeder and foundation seed production that was attended by 34 African researchers and extension professionals.

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