Friday, December 21, 2018

Dr. Arvind Kumar is the new Director of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre beginning February 2019

IRRI is pleased to announce that starting 1 February 2019, Dr. Arvind Kumar will serve as the Director of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), located in Varanasi, India.

ISARC is IRRI’s regional facility in South Asia that strengthens the national research capacity of rice-growing countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in crop production, seed quality and nutrition, and to enhance farmers’ knowledge and income.

In this critical role, Dr. Kumar will manage the overall operations of the Centre, including the development of its business plans to achieve IRRI’s strategic goals, and set its specific future strategic direction to ensure the Centre’s alignment with the vision and goals of IRRI. He will spearhead initiatives to ensure the excellence and consistency of research activities in the regional centre and act as external and national presence that communicates program results to regional and national platforms. Most importantly, he will be in charge of leading team members in building new partnerships with donors and community leaders at the Varanasi site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

IRRI SARC hosts first technology training to evaluate nutritional properties of food grain

4 December, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh - IRRI’s strengthened regional presence accelerates the development of higher-yielding, healthier, and stress tolerant rice varieties that appeal to local market preferences and secure a higher premium for farmers.

IRRI-South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI-SARC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India  held its first technology training on advanced technologies to evaluate specific nutritional properties of food grain and food products.

Rice Crop Manager helps farmers increase harvest through planting in healthy soil

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), with support from the Department of Agriculture (Government of Odisha), is implementing a 5-year project that aims to increase the productivity and income of farmers in 30 districts of Odisha, using cutting-edge, scientific agricultural technologies and innovative delivery systems. 
To achieve said goals, five key areas of impact were identified -- Strengthening seed systems; Efficient management of rice fallows; Raising productivity & profitability for farmers using Rice Crop Manager (RCM) by more efficient use of inputs; Enhancing farmer access to knowledge and technologies through Rice Knowledge Bank (RKB) and Rice Doctor; and satellite-based rice crop monitoring for seamless claim settlement using geographic information systems and science-based crop insurance. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

IRRI advises Nepalese farmers’ cooperative on upgrading their rice value chain to improve profits from rice farming


Collective action is becoming increasingly popular for effective planning and successful implementation of development work. Farmers’ cooperatives are meant for collective action and effective farmer engagement in agricultural activities aimed at increasing crop yield and profit from farming.

The Budhan Farmers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative, situated in Barabardiya Municipality Ward Number 5, in the Bardiya District, organized a one-day interaction program on 2 November 2018 with farmers, experts, scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), as well as Nepalese government officials and authorities from federal, provincial, and local governments.

Promoting cost-effective and climate-smart production technology in Nepal rice-based farming systems

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The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are working together to advance direct seeded rice (DSR) technology and practices in Nepal, to help rice farmers reduce the costs of production while increasing rice production and promote environmentally-sustainable cultivation.

Rice is Nepal’s dominant crop, grown nearly in 1.5 million hectares. Major constraints to productivity include water scarcity, limited suitable land, and shortage of labor. In labor alone, most of the work is done by hand, with manual transplanting, weeding, and harvesting activities requiring up to 90-100 mandays per hectare land. This is equivalent to about NPR 36,800 of the total cost of production excluding other inputs like seed and fertilizers.   

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nudging Indian households towards healthier food choices

Urban and rural Indian households express their food choices after being exposed to
nutritional information on healthy diets (photo credit: Jhoanne Ynion)

Kolkata, INDIA— IRRI, through its market analysis research, gains a better understanding of consumer food choices in order to support behavioral change communication programs that aim at nudging consumers to healthier food choices in rice-based diets.

According to IRRI senior economist and leader of the “Behavioral Drivers of Food Choice in Eastern India” (DFC) project, Dr. Matty Demont, behavioral experiments among randomly selected Indian households from Kolkata, Siliguri and rural West Bengal are currently being conducted. Respondents are exposed to several incremental levels of nutritional information on healthy diets through a Behavioral Change Communication (BCC) broadcast featuring renowned nutritionist Dr. Anindita Ray (Chakravarti) from Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata. Participants are then invited to plan their weekly household meals through an interactive app (similar to the investment game application) which captures the rich diversity of day-to-day food choices in West Bengal.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

CORIGAP student research about herbicide effects on amphibians receives high profile environmental award

Having a weed-free rice field is ideal, but not at the expense of nature. IRRI, through the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprints (CORIGAP) project, continues to do cutting-edge research to boost rice productivity while safeguarding environmental health.

According to Molly Shuman-Goodier, a CORIGAP-supported PhD student from the Northern Arizona University, amphibians species, such as frogs, contribute a number of beneficial ecosystem services to wetlands and irrigated rice fields. However, the application of herbicides like butchalor, which is used extensively in rice fields in Southeast Asia, affect the amphibians’ reproductive and developmental cycles.

“We would like to find out whether the application of the herbicide affect the growth and thyroid physiology of the cane toads, at what stage it is mostly affected, and to test the degree to which tadpoles can acclimatize to sub-lethal herbicide exposure,” Molly says.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Enhancing livelihoods through rice straw: farmer groups learn about rice straw collection options

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), and IRRI conducted a rice straw baler demonstration at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija for the project “Development of Sustainable Rice Straw Management Practices and Technologies for Bioenergy, Food, and Feed in the Philippines”, or RiceStrawPH.

The RiceStrawPH project aims to develop and provide alternative uses of rice straw in order to add value to the rice byproduct, instead of farmers simply burning them. “We are looking for ways where Filipinos can enhance their livelihoods through innovative uses of rice straw, like mushroom growing and ruminant feed.” said Dr. Caesar Tado of PhilRice, one of the project leaders. 

“In the Philippines, we have legislation that prohibits the burning of rice straw, and Nueva Ecija also has a local ordinance that discourages this practice. This helped the Philippines significantly decrease rice straw burning incidence from more than 90% in the early 2000s, to around 30% in 2017.” he added.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Vietnamese rice farmers optimize rice productivity whilst reducing the environmental footprint of rice production

IRRI continues to develop and promote practices that increase benefits for smallholder farmers while improving the environmental sustainability of rice production.

As rice production in the Mekong Delta faces challenges to economic and environmental sustainability, a group of scientists and extension specialists from IRRI and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Can Tho assessed different rice crop management practices in Mekong Delta, Vietnam, based on farm-level performance indicators of the Sustainable Rice Platform.

PRISM, a great advantage

At the 5th Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) convention, the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol, through a message read by his representative Assistant Secretary Andrew Villacorta, highlighted the government’s aim to provide affordable food for the people  by investing in research and development of modern technologies.

In Sec. Piñol’s keynote message, he stated “An information system on rice is a big step for us to achieve our goal of rice food security accompanied by enhancing the industry’s competitiveness.” He acknowledged PRISM for providing the agriculture department with timely information on rice areas, production, yield estimate and other factors affecting it, and for helping regional field offices in enhancing their capability in ground data collection, data management, geographic information systems, and other relevant skills.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Progress in hybrid rice research highlighted at the HRDC annual meeting

Forging partnerships with the private sector opens up opportunities to maximize our research-for-development impact. IRRI, through the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC), facilitates a collaboration that would advance hybrid rice development and dissemination for smallholder rice farmers in Asia.

Thirty-nine HRDC members gathered at IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna earlier this week to discuss achievements and plans to improve hybrid rice research and sharing in the following year.

“This year, we were able to develop new populations and parental lines for breeding, new hybrids for testing, and new DNA markers for forward breeding,” says Dr. Jauhar Ali, IRRI senior scientist and HRDC Coordinator. “These advances generated more resources and opportunities that enabled HRDC members to develop high-performing varieties,” he adds.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Vietnam stakeholders discuss ways to increase mechanization and sustainability of rice value chains

As Vietnam rapidly progresses towards sustainable rice production, there is an increasing need for the rice sector, such as farmers’ organizations, exporters, food companies, research institutes, and other development oriented groups, to work together for the common vision of the country in becoming a global supplier of sustainable rice.

Since standards for sustainable rice management practices are taking shape in the country, IRRI plays a crucial role in facilitating  the implementation of best management practices through “1 Must Do, 5 Reductions” principles (1M5R: use high quality seed while reducing seed rate; water, fertilizer and pesticide use; post harvest losses). The best management practices are implemented in eight provinces in the Mekong Delta via the World Bank-funded project “Vietnam – Sustainable Agricultural Transformation” (VnSAT). In the VnSAT project, IRRI uses a multi-stakeholder Learning Alliance (LA) to critically reflect and plan for activities that will help incentivize the adoption of sustainable rice practices like 1M5R. The LA aims to create supportive alliances for farmer groups for them to be able to engage better in the rice value chain, and to adopt and manage the demands of producing marketable rice. In order to do so, a series of LA meetings and activities are conducted so different stakeholders can assess problems and create solutions that help realize the country’s vision for their rice sector.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Experts from 11 countries gather to shape the future of rice ratoon cropping system

Ratoon rice is an ancient practice in China and Japan.
It can give 60% yield of the first crop
Rice ratoon is considered to be one of the most ancient rice production practices in Asia. Pioneered at about 1,700 years ago (215 -31 AD), it originated in the Guangdong Province of China. Ratoon rice is produced from the second crop growing from the stubble after harvesting the main crop. It can produce  about 60% grain yield of the first harvest, and provides several benefits such as reduced labor inputs, increased grain yield and profit, and optimal use of resources. Due to its efficiency, rice ratoon was widely adopted in several provinces in China.

In Hubei Province, ratoon rice production peaked at 300,000 ha in the early 1990s. However, the volume fell to 6,600 ha by the year 2012. The reason for the drop is linked to high labor needs, particularly when the main crop was manually harvested. The high rates of migration of rural workers to cities is also one of the causes. The challenge, therefore, is to integrate mechanization of rice production with the practice of rice ratooning.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

RICE CRP successfully supported 47 scholars to attend the the International Rice Congress 2018

The CGIAR Research Program on rice agri-food systems (RICE CRP) supports scholars from across the globe in opportunities that encourage them to gain knowledge and develop skills that they may use to contribute further to the rice agri-food sector.

Most recently, the program supported a total of 47 BSc, MSc, and PhD scholars from across the world to attend the 5th International Rice Congress. The three-day event was held on 15-17 October 2018, at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. These scholars played crucial roles at the congress, serving as oral, flash talk, or poster presenters. Each received a USD 1000 travel support, which helped them cover part of the registration and accommodations needed for the event.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Boosting heirloom rice farmer income through improved post-harvest practices

Members of the Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agriculture Cooperative and staff of Heirloom Rice Project (Ana Cope and Joseph Sandro) at the newly built heirloom rice processing center in Bontoc, Mt. Province, Cordillera. The processing center was funded by DA-RFO CAR.

Implementing good postharvest practices is important - not only for  improving rice yields and quality, but also for helping to improve the incomes of smallholder farmers.

IRRI is facilitating public-private partnerships in order to improve smallholder livelihoods and resilience. Together with Kellogg Company, IRRI is supporting local cooperatives to manage model processing centers which conforms to high quality standards through the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) in the Mountain Province of the Philippines. 

During the first phase of the HRP, a participatory needs and opportunity assessment (PNOA) was organized with heirloom rice farmers from the Mountain Province. Through the assessment, farmers were able to identify their need of postharvest machinery and technology.

As a result, postharvest processing machines were provided to the Mountain Province Heirloom Rice Farmers’ Agriculture Cooperative (MPHRFAC) to support the second phase of the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP), funded by Philippine Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research. The machines helped improve the quality of heirloom rice by enabling more efficient milling, grading, and storage, which also minimized rice weevil infestation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

IRRI and partners enhance farmer livelihood through new rice straw composting technique

Rice straw is a natural byproduct of rice production. Each kilogram of milled rice produces around 0.7-1.4 kilos of rice straw, a potential additional income for smallholder farmers that usually end up being burnt due to convenience and lack of awareness on other rice straw management options.

With support from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), IRRI and its partners are developing and piloting technologies to facilitate the use of rice straw as an additional opportunity to enhance farmer income and improve sustainability of rice production.

Through the project “Scalable straw management options for improved farmer livelihoods, sustainability, and low environmental footprint in rice-based production systems”, IRRI conducted a demonstration of a locally adapted compost turner in Vietnam last September 19.

Monday, October 1, 2018

IRRI gathers researchers to advance breeding programs around the world

IRRI together with the Excellence in Breeding (EiB) program and the Genomic Open-Source Breeding Informatics Initiative (GOBii) gathers advanced research institutes around the globe to advance innovations and solve increasingly complex problems in rice-growing countries and beyond.

Last August, IRRI hosted more than 40 participants from public sector breeding programs across ten countries for the Joint Breeders’ Training and Workshop. The activity was an opportunity for breeders and informaticians to discuss, evaluate, and enable agricultural institutions in Asia and some parts of Africa to modernize their breeding programs.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Empowering women farmers to lead agricultural transformation

A network of women farmer leaders are set to drive widespread adoption of innovations and technologies across India. IRRI, together with the Department of Biotechnology of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, are training women farmer leaders on advanced rice production to help boost food security in India.

A week-long advanced training on rice production was recently implemented by IRRI Education for women farmers. According to participant Jamuna Dutta Baruah, “through this program we were able to enrich what we have learned from the first training program with advanced knowledge on farming systems, mechanization, business development, and leadership skills.”

Monday, September 24, 2018

IRRI, WorldFish and Myanmar work together to optimize rice-fish farming productivity

IRRI, together with WorldFish and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation of Myanmar is exploring opportunities to improve the the livelihood, income, and nutrition of smallholder farmers in Myanmar by maximizing the combined productivity of rice and fish farming.

Research results conducted in Myanmar and some neighboring countries through the ACIAR-funded Rice-Fish project show that improved rice-fish farming offers a chance for farmers to produce a greater range of food and earn more income while only having minimum paddy modifications. “In Myanmar, growing fish together with rice has not affected rice yield. It has even increased farmer income by 9% in Maubin, Ayeyarwady Region, and 132% in Letpadan, Bago Region”, reports IRRI scientist Alexander Stuart.

Friday, September 21, 2018

IRRI discovers SWEET solution to bacterial blight

IRRI is leading innovations to provide adequate solutions to problems such as bacterial blight which severely affect rice production. In irrigated environments, bacterial blight can easily spread to large areas, causing up to 30% losses, a huge impact on the income for smallholder farmers in Asia.

Major genes for resistance called Xa genes (e.g., Xa4, Xa5, Xa21), have already been used in rice breeding programs. However, despite the importance of these genes in controlling the disease, the bacteria adapted to these resistant varieties making them susceptible again. There is a need to continue discovering new ways and developing varieties that can protect farmers from losses due to bacterial blight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

IRRI transforms rice breeding processes through market-oriented product profiling

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Cambodian farmers invest in future rice varieties—digital product profiling through the
Investment Game Application (IGA) (photo credit: Matty Demont)

IRRI is purposefully engaging with farmers to inform policies and establish standards that transform rice breeding to become more efficient and market-oriented.

Together with the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), IRRI conducted behavioral experiments with Cambodian rice farmers in Prey Veng and Takeo to elicit their preferences for future rice varietal trait improvements.

Farmers were trained in digital product profiling through an interactive app called Investment Game Application (IGA). The app enables them to participate in a simulated investment market for public rice breeding.  More specifically, IGA helps farmers express their preferences for the varietal trait improvements that they need to improve their livelihoods. Since the app simulates and exposes farmers to the cost and risk trade-offs that rice breeders face under resource constraints, it compels them to prioritize their preferences and design focused product profiles for their future needs as rice farmers. IRRI senior economist Matty demont explains, “By placing farmers in the shoes of donors and by allowing them to decide on the allocation of rice breeding funds, we are able to determine their preferences and priorities. In turn, this helps researchers starting priority setting at an early stage in the field, helping breeding programs become more cost-efficient, market-driven, client- and product-oriented, and forward-looking.”

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Consumers willing to pay a premium for sustainably produced rice, a new study shows

In a study recently published in Food Policy, a leading international journal in agricultural economics, researchers from the International Rice Research Institute, Hue University, and Ghent University tested urban Vietnamese consumers’ response to sustainable production labels in rice.
Through behavioral market experiments, they elicited consumers’ willingness to pay for rice produced and labeled under the national sustainable production standard “VietGAP” in a supermarket in Can Tho City in the Mekong River Delta. The researchers also examined the conditions that make consumers willing to pay more for certified-sustainable rice. They found that consumers were willing to pay price premiums of 9% for certified sustainably produced rice on top of the price of regular rice. These premiums even further increased up to 33% when they were informed about what the label on sustainably-produced products mean and where exactly the rice was produced. Consumers that consider themselves as environment- and health-conscious tended to be most responsive to sustainable production labels. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

IRRI, World Bank team up to strengthen post-harvest management in Myanmar

A robust seed system is the "backbone" of a vibrant rice production sector.

To strengthen the agricultural systems of different areas in the country, IRRI, in partnership with the World Bank, launched the Agricultural Development Support Project (ADSP) which aims to increase rice productivity in the 4 pilot project regions under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI): Bago, Naypyitaw, Mandalay, and Sagaing.

Myanmar is the highest per capita rice consuming country in world (140.8 kg milled rice per person per year) and majority of its population depend on the agricultural sector for livelihood. This makes it imperative for the agricultural sector of the country to increase their knowledge and adopt technologies that can improve their harvest.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

WeRise-RR orientations conducted for ICRR researchers

The IJCRP on CCADS-RR team poses for a group photo with ICRR researchers
Sukamandi, Indonesia, 15 August 2018 – The IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project (IJCRP) on Climate Change Adaptation through Development of a Decision-Support tool to guide Rainfed Rice production is catalysing partners to drive the adoption of the Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise), a decision support tool for rainfed farmers.

Water availability is crucial to rice production in rainfed areas. However, climate change has made it difficult for farmers to predict rains that will determine the best time to plant rice in their area.

In order to help farmers in such unfavorable areas, IJCRP has developed WeRise, a seasonal climate prediction-based app that could help rainfed rice farmers plan their upcoming production more strategically. WeRise could provide advisories on the best time to plant, suitable varieties to use, and fertilizer application schedule according to the weather characteristics of the upcoming cropping season. This includes the onset, amount and distribution of rainfall; and simulated crop growth.

WeRise-RR exhibits potential to increase rainfed rice production in Indonesia

Bogor, Indonesia, 14 August 2018 – Results of the initial on-farm experiments to validate the predictive accuracy of the WeRise for rice-rice for rainfed rice (WeRise-RR) in selected provinces in Indonesia showed that farmers could potentially increase their yield by following the WeRise advisories.

WeRise is an ICT tool that aims to improve rainfed rice productivity by helping farmers plan their crop production strategically by using seasonal climate forecast and crop growth models to come up with advisories. It was developed by the IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project (IJCRP).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

IRRI, AFSTRI, Corteva Agriscience™ team up to build capacity and network of young plant scientists

IRRI and Corteva Agriscience™ partner in building a strong global community of scientists that will drive innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges in food security.

Guided by the symposium’s theme, “Same Field, Better Yield”, expert plant breeders on rice, wheat, maize, and coconuts have shared their latest practices and research findings with around 200 graduate students from different universities. One of the highlights of the symposium is the lecture of Cornell University’s Dr. Mark Sorrells. He concluded his lecture on Molecular Breeding and High Throughput Phenotyping in the 21st Century by highlighting the importance of collaboration among different specialists in modern-day plant breeding. According to Dr. Sorrells, “Days are long gone when plant breeders work on isolation. The best plant breeders today are those who work with a team with complementary expertise to develop varieties today”.

Assam farmers learn about technologies that increase yield and improve rice farming efficiency

Agriculture in Assam accounts for over a third of income generated in the state, and employs over 70% of the workforce, making agriculture one of the most important means of livelihood in Assam.

To increase profitability of small and marginal farmers and strengthen the seed supply systems in 16 districts, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in partnership with Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) signed an agreement in March 2018 supporting activities under this effort.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

National Planning Commission and IRRI-Nepal hold round table meeting to discuss five-year work plan on the country’s rice agri-food system

For more than 50 years, IRRI has been working with Nepal in providing improved germplasm to develop nearly 70% of 83 high-yielding varieties in the country. This partnership has contributed to national food security and economic growth. National rice productivity of Nepal before collaborating with IRRI was 2 t/ha, and has risen to over 3.5 t/ha in 2017.

According to Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, member of the National Planning Commission responsible for Agriculture portfolio, “IRRI’s presence in Nepal provided a continuous supply of germplasm that supported the development of high-performing rice varieties, which are suitable for subtropical and warm temperate regions in Nepal”. Dr. Gurung adds that IRRI helped the country develop different rice farming technologies and in conduct capacity building initiatives for Nepalese scientists and extension workers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

IRRI celebrates National Nutrition Month in the Philippines

Nutrition awareness ramps up in the Philippines during the annual celebration of National Nutrition Month in July, with this year’s theme highlighting the role of diverse food sources and increased household income in improving the nutritional status of Filipinos. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) supports the Philippine nutrition sector’s public outreach with engagements that demonstrate the organization’s ongoing research efforts to improve health and livelihood outcomes across all areas of the agri-food system.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nepal to adopt intensive rice farming technologies to achieve food security

As part of his South Asia travel, IRRI’s Director General Matthew Morell had the opportunity to visit Nepal, a country that has long been one of the Institute’s staunch partners in many initiatives that aim to transform the rice sector in Asia.

During the course, Dr. Morell was able to witness firsthand many challenges that the Nepalese face to produce rice, which is the country’s most staple crop. These include low farm mechanization, low adoption of farming technologies and innovations, lack of year-round assured irrigation, labor shortage, and lack of availability of quality agricultural inputs in the right time and affordable price. Apart from these, farmers also have limited exposure and little access to machines and equipment used to mechanize farming (laser land levelers, direct seeded rice (DSR) drills, mechanical weeders, and combine harvesters).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Vietnam and IRRI collaborate on policies that support innovations in rice value chain upgrading

Dr. Balie delivers a presentation during the 4.0 Summit and Expo 2018

IRRI is working together with Vietnam to accelerate the translation of innovations that support sustainable rice value chain upgrading through policy recommendations and high technology options.

During the Vietnam Industry 4.0 Summit and Expo 2018, IRRI’s Head of the Agri-food Policy Platform, Dr. Jean Balie,  presented strategies and opportunities for the application of cutting edge technologies that support Vietnam’s vision of developing a smart agriculture sector.

Monday, July 23, 2018

IRRI scholars gear up for first Plant Sciences Symposium in the Philippines

IRRI and Corteva Agriscience™ are joining forces to host a Plant Sciences Symposium in the Philippines as part of a worldwide, student-driven symposia series inaugurated and supported by Corteva Agriscience™ since 2008.

Organized by the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees and Residents of IRRI (AFSTRI) the day-long program includes presentations and interactions with leading plant scientists from around the world. There will also be student presenters and poster presentations to give scholars and other young scientists an opportunity to showcase their work. The symposium will offer networking opportunities among scientists, experts, researchers, and students in the field of plant breeding and agricultural sciences.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Philippine partners learn about mechanized straw collection

Rice straw is a major residue in Philippine rice farms. Due to lack of awareness about properly disposing rice straw, farm owners resort to burning tons of the material, which in turn exposes the environment to major hazards. The negative effects of burning rice straw not only affects the farmers, but everything and everyone in the vicinity. 

One of the major technological developments that makes rice straw disposal more efficient is the rice straw baler. This machine can pick up and collect loose straw in the field, and reduce it into compact bales that can be easily handled and transported to areas where it can be used further. Using this machine reduces labor requirement by 90% compared with manually collecting the rice straw spread out in the field. 

IRRI, FAO team up to develop sustainable rice value chain in Africa

Workshop participant doing a land preparation exercise at an IRRI experiment station.

IRRI, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is equipping the next generation of African agricultural technicians and extension agents with technical strategies and techniques in developing sustainable rice value food chains.

A two-week training workshop gathered 27 participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’ Ivoire, Guinea Conakry,  Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. During the event, global rice experts facilitated interactive lectures and gave participants hands-on experience on the stages of the rice value chain from land preparation to post-harvest processing, seed systems, and agribusiness development.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Public consultations scheduled for Golden Rice field trials

The Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has given the go-signal for the conduct of public consultations on the proposed field trials for GR2E Golden Rice.

The public consultation process is a significant component of biosafety regulatory approval under the Joint Department Circular No. 1 series of 2016. The consultation process is comprised of Public Information Sheet postings in accessible community locations, a 30-day public comment period, and the public hearing. This provides community members with the opportunity to participate responsibly in a critical biosafety decision-making process.

Nepal, IRRI strengthens collaboration to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce rice importation at 15th National Rice Day

Rice importation eats up a substantial chunk of Nepal’s national budget each year, adversely affecting economic development in the country. In order to reduce rice import and  help Nepal achieve its commitment to rice self-sufficiency, IRRI is working in the country to speed up the translation of innovative global solutions to the local needs of the rice value chain. Together with national partners, IRRI is accelerating the impact of its research through scaling up technology adoption and teaching local rice stakeholders.

During Nepal’s 15th National Rice Day, Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, member of the National Planning Commission, expressed appreciation for IRRI’s support in Nepal’s research on rice product profiling, climate-resilient rice, and on the best management practices in rice production. He also thanked IRRI for its contribution in the capacity building of more than 300 Nepalese scientists and extension workers through academic programs, short-term trainings, and exchange visits.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

RICE CRP to boost communication of its vision and impact across regions

To map out the general course of its operations towards achieving food security and eliminating poverty, the CGIAR Research Program on Rice (RICE CRP) held its annual Independent Steering Committee Meeting (ISC) on June 7-8, 2018 at the Agropolis International, Montpellier, France.

The ISC is composed of five (5) representatives from the boards of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and AfricaRice; six (6) independent global experts; and the DGs of IRRI and AfricaRice as ex-officio members. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

RiceStrawPH: IRRI teams up with Philippine partners for sustainable rice straw management project

The Philippines produces 15.2 million tons of rice; leaving 11.3 tons of rice straw spread out in the field. The abundance of rice straw can be used for a number of profitable practices like composting, mushroom production, and as feed for animals.

However, it is still perceived to have of little value in the Philippines because of its difficulty in collection and lack of opportunities to use rice straw as an additional source of income. Rice producers would prefer burning it in open fields for easier management. About 60-80% of rice straw is burned in the open field, which contributes to greenhouse gas emission and air pollution.

To develop optimal, localized, and sustainable rice straw management solutions in the country, IRRI, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and the Philippine Carabao Center, launched the Sustainable Rice Straw Management for Bioenergy, Food, and Feed in the Philippines (RiceStrawPH) project. Funded by the Philippine’s Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Research, the two-year project aims to develop sustainable technologies and practices in using rice straw for bioenergy, mushroom, and animal feed production.

“It is very  exciting to see how we are taking further steps, through strong collaboration with our Philippine partners, to find ways to manage rice by-products, for optimal resource-use efficiency in farms in the most environmentally sustainable manner. This is very crucial for us to achieve a sustainable impact in rice–based ecosystems,” said Jon Hellin, IRRI Platform Leader on Sustainable Impact.

“We must create incentives for farmers to stop burning and to do this under the umbrella of enabling legislative framework,” he said.

Together with other project collaborators from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Bureau of Plant Industry, and the University of the Philippines Los Banos, a two-day workshop was held on 26-27 June at IRRI  to discuss and align the project’s plans with the Philippine Rice Program.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rice stakeholders highlight importance of creating value-adding activities for rice

In Asia, achieving food security remains an important issue, as the consumption of rice appears to be decreasing in some rice-growing countries, and farmers face increasingly challenging conditions. As rice is a political crop so culturally intertwined with life in Asia, the need for marketing it innovatively through value-adding activities is more relevant than ever.

The International Seminar on Promoting Rice Farmers’ Market through Value-Adding Activities held on June 5–9 at the Kasetsart University gathered rice experts from 11 countries to share  experiences in rice value addition during production, processing, and marketing.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Opening the doors to food security through genomics

The development of Green Super Rice, a new breed of stable, climate-smart, high-yielding varieties, opens up the potential of understanding and using genomics of agroecosystems in responding to the increasingly complex challenges the agricultural sector is facing today.

As the global population continues to increase exponentially each day, so does the demand for rice, a major staple food and livelihood for more than 3.5 billion people. Given the current growth rate, it is expected that global population will reach around 10 billion by 2050. Much of this increase will occur in poor, densely populated regions in Asia and Africa that are already highly dependent on rice for food, nutrition, and livelihood.

The article “The Rice Genome Revolution: from an Ancient Grain to Green Super Rice” published in Nature Reviews Genetics discusses how genomes from domesticated and wild rice can be used to improve other breeding programs, making it more responsive to global needs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Stakeholders learn about sustainable rice straw management in Vietnam

Rice straw management remains to be one of Vietnam’s biggest agricultural challenges. On average, 60% of the straw generated from rice production in the country is burned in the field every year. The burning of what amounts to 20 million tons of straw annually is dangerous and not environmentally sustainable because it increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which leads to environmental pollution. This could cause respiratory problems in humans and emanate a thick cloud of smoke that causes serious vehicle accidents.

To discuss best practices and policy recommendations on sustainable rice straw management, a workshop was organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 05 June 2018. The workshop is aligned with the three-year BMZ-IRRI Straw Management Project, and aimed to present the project’s research outputs on effective rice straw management technologies and practices for improved livelihoods, sustainability, and low environmental footprint in rice-based production systems.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Increasing farmers’ income through post-harvest technologies and value chain upgrading

IRRI aims to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia by delivering comprehensive and market-oriented solutions to reduce post-harvest losses, boost farmer income, and increase rice production sustainability.

During the 13th International Rice Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, IRRI joined fellow global experts in a forum where they shared solutions and approaches to sustainable rice production, such as recent developments in post-harvest technologies and learning alliances.

Nine Asian countries learn novel technologies in Rice Technology Transfer Systems in Asia (RTTS) Training Workshop at RDA in South Korea

Participants of the Rice Technology Transfer Systems in 
Asia Training Workshop in Korea
IRRI Education, in collaboration with the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of the Republic of Korea, trained a new batch of agricultural technicians and extension agents, at the International Technology Cooperation Center (ITCC) in Jeonju, South Korea, May 16-25, 2018. The group, which consisted of 17 participants from nine Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, included a strong representation of women (15 females out of 17 participants).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WateRice project demonstrated laser guided land leveling technology to Iloilo farmers

IRRI works with national partners to promote technologies that maximize water-use efficiency and to reduce rice’s ecological footprint through the Water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments (WateRice) Project. In cooperation with the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC), WateRice Project conducted a demonstration of laser-guided land leveling to farmers of Iloilo, Philippines.

Monday, May 28, 2018

SeedCast – Innovative mobile app launched by IRRI to estimate seed demand for rice varieties in Odisha, India

IRRI together with the Odisha Department of Agriculture and the Odisha State Seed Corporation (OSSC) is connecting global innovative solutions to local needs through SeedCast, a mobile application and web-based Management Information System (MIS) portal for seed demand estimation.

SeedCast will help streamline the demand and supply of seeds for different varieties of rice. According to Dr. Saurabh Garg, Principal Secretary of the Odisha Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Empowerment, “seed corporations have been grappling with the issue of estimating demand for seeds. SeedCast will help estimate demand for varieties of rice seeds, which makes nearly 80% of the Kharif cultivation.” 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

DNA fingerprinting to improve seed systems monitoring in Bangladesh

Stakeholders discuss the potential of DNA fingerprinting technology in addressing concerns presented in the Rice Monitoring Survey in South Asia (RMSSA) Workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 08 May 2018.

To present information on and address concerns associated with the adoption of abiotic stress tolerant rice varieties in Bangladesh, a workshop on rice varietal monitoring and seed system improvement using DNA fingerprinting technology was held at the Center on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) International Conference Center (CICC), Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 8.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Helping Vietnam transform its rice sector through sustainable rice production practices

IRRI works with key partners in boosting Vietnam’s rice industry through the “Vietnam Sustainable Agricultural Transformation project” (VnSAT).  The  VnSAT Central Project Management  Unit  (CPMU) from the Ministry of Agricultural Rural Development (MARD) CPMU, and the Provincial Project Management Units (PPMU) from  eight provinces (An Giang, Tien Giang, Hau Giang, Kien Giang, Can Tho, Soc Trang, Dong Thap, and Long An) in the Mekong River Delta are actively working with farmers to ensure sustainable rice farming in the country’s rice bowl.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Former IRRI cropping systems program leader passes away

John 'Johnny' W. Pendleton, 96, a leading international agronomist, passed away on 15 May in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as an agronomist and cropping systems program leader in the institute's Multiple Cropping Unit during 1980-82. During his time at IRRI, Dr. Pendleton worked on major rice-legume cropping system combinations and their fertilizer management. As part of an FAO-sponsored expert consultation held in New Delhi in February 1982, he urged that all fertilizer research on cropping systems must include careful economic analysis. He stated that "farmers are not interested in more crops per year but in more profits from their land each year." IRRI sends it deepest condolences to Dr. Pendleton's family.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Towards greater genetic gains in rice based agri-food systems in South Asia and Africa

On a mission to make Asia and sub-Saharan Africa more food secure, IRRI’s Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) Project, chiefly supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), was launched in 2008. In its decade of implementation, STRASA has brought forth a new era of scientific excellence in rice science, as evidenced by the following impacts: extensive network of research and development and expertise generated from stress-tolerant rice varieties’ delivery and extension; strengthened supply chain networks; shared platforms for varietal knowledge enhancement, production and training; and widespread diffusion reaching farmers and benefiting consumers worldwide.