Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton receives Crop Trust Legacy Award

IRRI congratulates Dr. Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head of the International Rice Genebank, for receiving the Crop Trust Legacy Award. Dr. Hamilton is one of the seven award recipients recognized as “global gatekeepers” for their efforts and outstanding contribution in the field of plant genetic resources conservation. In a video about the Legacy Awardees, Marie Haga, Executive Director of Crop Trust, said “[the awardees have] diligently prepared seeds for the world for years. They have done a tremendous job for human kind by safeguarding the foundation of our food”.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dr. Buyung Hadi appointed as IRRI's representative in Cambodia

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Buyung Hadi as the Institute’s representative in Cambodia, effective 1 March 2018. He will lead IRRI’s key initiatives in the country and will serve as the focal person for activities that strengthen IRRI’s partnership with key stakeholders in Cambodia.

Dr. Hadi is an entomologist that specializes in insect ecology and integrated pest management (IPM). He currently leads the pest ecology research group at IRRI, that focuses on obtaining solutions in conservation and augmentative biocontrol, pest adaptation on resistant varieties, non-target impact of insecticide application, and insecticide resistance.

He lends his expertise to numerous projects initiated by IRRI in Cambodia, including Development of Ecologically-based Participatory IPM Package for rice in Cambodia (EPIC) and Closing Rice Yield Gap in Asia (CORIGAP). He contributed to the pest management and pesticide use standards for the Sustainable Rice Platform, and leads a team that developed  and launched a smartphone application on field crop IPM guide.

Dr. Hadi received his Doctorate Degree in Entomology from Auburn University, USA in 2009. Since then, he has obtained and managed over 4 million USD in grants and contracts from international, US federal, regional, and state agencies. In 2017, he co-authored the book “Rice insect pests and their management”,  a comprehensive global treatise on rice insect pests.

For more information about the IRRI-Cambodia partnership, click here

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Stakeholders evaluate the impact of Alternate Wetting and Drying Technology in Bangladesh

Irrigated rice in Bangladesh accounts for nearly half of the country’s rice output. However variability in rainfall, dry spells, depleting water table and water scarcity for agriculture pose a challenge in achieving food security for its 163 million people. The FAO estimates rice production in Bangladesh to be at a five-year low of 50.8 million tonnes in 2017, 2 per cent below the 2016 outcome. This may result to a sharp spike in rice prices in the country. Adding to the burden of increasing cost is the rising cost of irrigation, electricity, fuel and labor.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Gazette notification of Golden Rice approval by FSANZ

GR2E Golden Rice passes FSANZ safety standards.
The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has been amended to include food derived from provitamin A rice line GR2E (Golden Rice), a beta-carotene biofortified genetically modified (GM) rice under development at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  The publication of the Food Standards variance in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 22 February 2018 marks completion of the regulatory process under Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Farmer-buyer collaboration can help increase farm productivity in Nepal

Contract farming , a conditional arrangement on inputs and/or output between farmers and buyers, could increase rice farm productivity in Nepal by 7%, according to a recent study by agricultural economists published in Wiley Periodicals.

Research results indicated that the rice yield gap between contract and independent (non-contract) farmers is significant at 13%, which could partly be attributed to contract farming. Findings indicated that participation in contract farming  increased the average farm productivity levels of paddy seed farmers from 87% to 94%.

Ben Juliano, renowned cereal chemist & national scientist, passes away

By Gene Hettel

Bienvenido O. “Ben” Juliano, 81, world-renowned cereal chemist and Philippine National Scientist, passed away on the morning of 21 February in Los Baños, Laguna. He was among the first cadre of elite scientists who helped set the direction of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) during the institute’s early years. Arriving as an associate chemist in 1961, he went on to spend more than 32 years at IRRI, most of them as head of the Cereal Chemistry Department.
       IRRI’s first director general, Robert Chandler, Jr., who hired him, later wrote, “Without question, the broad scope of Dr. Juliano’s work in cereal chemistry advanced decidedly the world’s knowledge of the cooking, eating, and nutritional qualities of the rice grain; he was a pioneer in analyzing IRRI’s world collection of rice varieties for protein content.”
       In 1993, Klaus Lampe, a later IRRI director general wrote: “It is primarily due to Dr. Juliano’s dedicated work in this important research area that IRRI scientists and their colleagues can routinely measure grain quality in pre-breeding efforts that are serving the national agricultural research systems.”
       Bestowed the honor of National Scientist in 2000 by Philippine President Joseph Estrada (photo,
right), Dr. Juliano’s rice taste-panel research showed that the amylose and amylopectin contents of the starch largely determined rice’s cooking and eating quality. He found that a higher proportion of amylose provided a greater tendency for rice to cook dry and fluffy. So, based on this research, it became clear that the rice eaters of the Philippines and Indonesia preferred medium-amylose rice grains. IR24, the first IRRI variety to meet this requirement, was released in 1971.
       Born on 15 August 1936 from a family of accomplished scholars, the young Ben Juliano showed brilliance and academic excellence. He graduated early from college at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) with a magna cum laude B.S. in Agriculture in 1955 and eventually became the youngest (at the age of 22) “straight-A" PhD graduate in organic chemistry in 1959 at The Ohio State University. Shortly after that, he returned to the Philippines and joined IRRI where he would pursue his life’s work for the next 3 decades until his “retirement” in 1993.
       In 1993, he produced two books that brought together many elements of his scientific body of work, Grain Quality Evaluation of  World Rices, published by IRRI, and Rice in Human
Nutrition, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Dr. Juliano put together the FAO book to serve a wide range of readers in government, universities, and industry as a general source on most aspects of rice production, processing, trade, and consumption. His IRRI book (written with C.P. Villareal), was aimed at rice breeders and chemists involved in grain quality breeding programs and for food scientists and nutritionists interested in rice grain quality, composition, processing, and use. It was translated into Japanese in 1999. He also released a 10-chapter book in 2003, revised in 2007, Rice Chemistry and Quality, which was launched by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
       After his IRRI retirement, Dr. Juliano was invited to visit cereal laboratories in Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, Cuba, and Taiwan to give recommendations to their rice quality breeding programs. He also helped to build the grain-quality research capability of PhilRice where he continued to pursue his rice research as a senior consultant/expert, bringing his time devoted to cereal chemistry research to a half century.   
       In addition to being named a Philippine National Scientist in 2000, Dr. Juliano received numerous honors and awards throughout his stellar career including: the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award from the Junior Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines for his achievements in science (1964), the President of the Republic of the Philippines Jose Rizal Pro Patria Award (1976), election into the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (1979). the only non-Japanese Asian to be presented with the Medal of Merit by the Japanese Society of Starch Science (1982), and the only Asian and rice scientist to receive the Thomas Burr Osborne Medal Award from the American Association of Cereal Chemists (1988).
       He also was the first Filipino to be honored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an Outstanding Scientist and Technologist during the ASEAN Science and Technology Week (1988), recipient of the National Research Council of the Philippines’ Cluster I (Physical Sciences) National Researcher Award during its 60th Jubilee Celebration (1993), and recipient of a plaque of recognition for lifetime research on rice quality awarded by IRRI on the occasion of the dedication of the institute's new Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (2004).
       Dr. Juliano is survived by his spouse Linda; three children, Ben Jr., Carmelinda, and Benedict; and four grandchildren.
       Necrological rites were held 24 February at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel, Los Baños, Laguna. During those services, attended by many colleagues and friends, Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI's Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships, spoke in behalf of the institute. 
      Among his remarks, Dr. Tolentino stated: "A key legacy of Dr. Juliano at IRRI is the establishment of the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center. Looking at today’s trends, and into the future, the GQNC is increasingly becoming the locus of the work of IRRI. This is the center that bridges and translates consumer demands into the work of the breeders, agronomists, and other scientists. Overall, consumers care about not only the taste and eating quality of the rice, but also the impact of rice on their nutrition and health – particularly as their incomes grow. As a cereal chemist, Dr. Juliano laid the foundations of the methods and approaches to grain quality testing at IRRI – and it looks like this will be a key basis for the evolution of IRRI in the years to come."
     See a tribute to him in the Manila Bulletin: Ben Juliano, cereal chemist second to none.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

IRRI, the Chinese Academy for Agricultural Sciences, and BMGF team up to develop rice varieties for a Greener Revolution

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), together with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), collaborate through funding and research efforts to develop Green Super Rice (GSR), a new set of rice varieties that perform well under the toughest conditions.

IRRI and Renewable Energy for Rural Areas’ partnership in Nepal introduces solar bubble dryer to address farmers’ problem in paddy drying

Spring rice contributes around 20 percent of the total rice production in Nepal. However, farmers may lose 10 to 30 percent of the rice produced when they are not able to dry it properly. Paddy drying is a big problem during the onset of the rainy season in the country and there is great potential for technology that could significantly boost its rice production, contribute to national and local self-sufficiency, and add revenues for farmers.

The collaboration between International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Renewable Energy for Rural Areas (RERA) programme in Nepal was initiated to provide farmers with the tools to effectively dry rice during the spring. It is a project born through the partnership of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Germany to support the decentralized renewable energy sector in Nepal. It is jointly implemented by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Amongst other measures, the RERA programme is supporting the development and deployment of new and innovative renewable energy technologies (RETs) in the agriculture sector to increase productivity, generate income and stimulate low carbon economic growth.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Workshop on Agriculture Development Support Project aims to improve irrigation practices in Myanmar

The Myanmar Department of Agriculture (DOA), together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) participated in an inception workshop for the World Bank-funded Agriculture Development Support Project (ADSP).

The project aims to make irrigated agriculture more profitable, diversified, and sustainable through participatory planning, improved management approaches and increased options. It will be implemented in Bago, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, and Sagaing regions, Myanmar, and will upgrade 35,000 hectares of existing irrigation infrastructure. The initiative seeks to provide these direct benefits to 22,000 farm households, particularly those who have less than 0.8 hectares of land. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dr. Humnath Bhandari appointed as IRRI Representative in Bangladesh

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Humnath Bhandari as IRRI Representative in Bangladesh effective 1 February 2018. Dr. Bhandari brings a wide range of experience to the job and will serve as the focal point of IRRI activities in the country. He will lead all key initiatives to further strengthen IRRI’s commitment and partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, and other key donors, partners and stakeholders for rice-based agri-food systems in the country. In addition to this, in his new role as the IRRI Representative for its Bangladesh office, Dr. Bhandari will oversee and lead implementation of the new IRRI strategic plan in Bangladesh.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dr. Uma Shankar Singh as Interim Director of IRRI South Asia Regional Centre, India

IRRI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Uma Shankar Singh as the Interim Director of the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre. The appointment took effect on 1 November 2017.

Dr. Singh is widely recognized as an authority on seed and eco-friendly management of plant diseases. He is also a fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences in India, and served on various key scientific committees such as the Indian Phytopathological Society, the Governing Body of the Jharkhand Agriculture Development Council, and the Apex Committee to formulate the Pesticide R&D policy of India. He served as a visiting scientist at the Rothamsted Experiment Station in Harpenden, UK.