Wednesday, December 18, 2019

IRRI-PhilRice-JIRCAS collaborative research project holds end-season review with farmer cooperators

Photo by Job Ramos (PhilRice)
A total of 30 farmer cooperators (FCs) actively shared their experiences in the end-season reviews of the IRRI-PhilRice-JIRCAS collaborative research project (IPJCRP) in Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, and Miagao. The FCs have been participating in the Weather-rice-nutrient Integrated Decision Support System (WeRise) on-farm experiments since 2017.

WeRise enables data-driven decision support for rainfed rice systems through science-based weather and crop advisories including the best time to plant and apply fertilizer as well as the suitable varieties/possible varietal combinations for planting to maximize the entire cropping season. It integrates localized seasonal climate predictions and real-time weather data with a crop growth model. Under the IPJCRP, WeRise is being developed to suit the conditions of Philippine rainfed rice areas.

IRRI-PhilRice-JIRCAS collaborative research project holds the 2nd WeRise stakeholders’ meeting

Stakeholders’ participation throughout the project cycle is important in enhancing project design and results sustainability. Twenty-five key stakeholders from the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office (DA-RFO), Western Visayas, Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) -  Iloilo (PAO Iloilo), Agricultural Training Institute - Western Visayas, Municipal Agriculture Offices (MAOs) of Miag-ao, Cabatuan, and Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, and project members/leaders from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) convened for the 2nd Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise) stakeholders’ meeting. The meeting aimed to share project updates; obtain feedback; and identify current rice program priority areas, challenges, and opportunities where WeRise research activities can contribute.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

IRRI, Myanmar and Germany partners make history, organized the first agricultural machinery trade fair

Myanmar ramps up its efforts in advancing mechanization in the country. Agritechnica Asia Live 2019, a spin-off of the world’s leading machinery trade fair Agritechnica, was organized for the first time in Myanmar last 29-30 November 2019.

The agricultural machinery trade fair was co-organized by IRRI, World Bank, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Myanmar Rice Federation, and German Agricultural Society (DLG). Hosted by Myanmar’s Agricultural Mechanization Department, it was the first and biggest live demonstration of agricultural machineries in Myanmar.

U Aung Win, Director of Planning Department, said, “With the help of the World Bank through the Agricultural Development Support Project (ADSP) and CORIGAP project, we are able to host this mechanization field day to enable the farmers to use the machines which are suitable for their cultivated crops,  get in contact with a private company to acquire the appropriate farm machineries, and promote the private sector in Agricultural Machinery Service in Myanmar.”

Training Cambodia’s seed inspectors and producers in pilot seed certification process

06 December 2019, Phnom Penh - a two-week intensive course for rice seed inspection and certification was attended by Cambodian government seed sector officials from the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) in preparation for the development of the country’s National Seed Certification system.

Held last May 2019, the course was the first of a series of training programs facilitated by the IRRI Education Center and the Philippine Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), with a focus on developing standards, maintaining varietal purity, and modernizing the seed industry.
Initiated through “Accelerating the adoption of stress-tolerant rice varieties for smallholder farmers in Cambodia, Phase II (ASTVII)”, an IRRI project funded by USAID, this system of rice seed certification will enhance the development of seed quality standards in Cambodia.

Monday, December 16, 2019

AWD suitability mapping towards low emission rice production in Vietnam

Dr. Bjorn Ole Sander of IRRI Vietnam handing over the AWD suitability to Dr. Le Thanh Tung of DCP-MARD in a turnover ceremony.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) works with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to promote low emission rice production technologies in Vietnam. This is through adopting and scaling out different mitigation options such as alternate wetting and drying (AWD).

Monday, December 9, 2019

Myanmar farmers and extension workers adopt best postharvest management practices

Extension agents of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) and farmers from Sagaing region underwent a two-day hands-on training and participated in discussions about best practices in rice postharvest management during the 6th and 7th sessions on Postharvest management of the  Training of Trainers  on Implementing Farmer Field School on Integrated Crop Management for Climate Smart Rice Production in Yinmarbin Township, Myanmar. The postharvest session is part of the season long training which commenced in August through to December 2019.  The session is led by the IRRI Postharvest team as part of the capacity building training of the World Bank-funded Agricultural Development Support Project in Myanmar.

To strengthen knowledge and skills of the extension and development workers of the DOA, the participants were taught about the principles of mechanized harvesting, drying, hermetic storage and how to understand rice quality. These were relayed through field discussions and hands-on exercises about using IRRI quality kit, sun drying and hermetic storage bag.

“Now I have  more knowledge and learned about specific technology on rice postharvest. I will share with the farmers the knowledge I learned from the training by conducting meetings and technology demonstrations at the Integrated High Technology Demonstration Village, a twice a week extension program of the DOA,” according to Daw Yin Yin Kyae of DOA-Kani.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

SDC, IRRI work with Myanmar for an agroecological transition towards sustainable food systems

4 December 2019 - A diverse and rapidly-changing agricultural economy, Myanmar offers a unique opportunity to examine how landscape and food system development can contribute to a healthy environment and well-nourished people.

Agriculture in Myanmar is presently at a crossroads, for either intensifying production or managing many unknowns to ensure environmental sustainability. This is not a simple binary choice, as many implications and trade-offs have to be considered to understand what is possible given environmental and human aspects.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Harnessing the potential of UAVs in agricultural research

The Geospatial Science and Modeling (GSM) cluster of the Sustainable Impact Platform recently conducted a 3-day training on crop mapping using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and global positioning system real time kinematics (GPS-RTK) as applied to rice research.

Held last 18-20 November 2019 at Thailand Rice Science Institute (TSRI), Suphanburi, Thailand, the training was attended by 10  participants from TSRI, Department of Agriculture (DoA), and provincial rice research stations. The course in general focused on procedures on how to effectively  utilize UAVs and GPS-RTK  in a variety of applications, from supplemental field observation to crop assessment, citing examples on how IRRI uses UAVs in research.

Friday, November 22, 2019

HRDC holds Field Day at IRRI South Asia Regional Centre

A hybrid rice Field Day organized by the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC) showcased the group’s top-performing rice hybrids to over 35 participants from 16 private sector companies engaged in hybrid rice production and technologies, an encouraging step forward towards the potential commercializing of improved hybrid rice varieties for use by India’s rice farmers.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Farmers and partners in Myanmar learn about improved rice straw mushroom production

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Myanmar’s Agricultural Mechanization Department (AMD) conducted a hands-on training on Rice Straw Based Mushroom Cultivation at the Agricultural Machinery Training Center, in Yezin, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. This training is part of a two-week workshop and training on Rice Straw Management, which ran from 4 – 14 November 2019. The training focused on developing good management practices to add value to rice byproducts and to reduce the environmental footprint of rice production caused by open field burning of rice straw.

U Aung Zaw, Deputy Director General of Planning at the AMD in Nay Pyi Taw, provided full support to the event. “This is a great opportunity to learn about rice straw management in our country,” he said.

Mechanized rice straw collection training in Myanmar enhances gender equality on sustainable rice straw management

Dr. Thi Thi Aung maneuvering the tractor with a square baler in the field.

A training program for mechanized rice straw collection increased the knowledge and capacity of its participants, many of them women, in extending sustainable rice straw management practices to Myanmar farmers.

9 women and 16 men engaged in development and extension work for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation (MOALI) and a non-government organization were given instruction on the operation and maintenance of mechanical rice straw balers during the Rice Straw Management Training Workshop conducted at the Agricultural Machinery Training Center (AMTC) in Yezin on 4-14 November 2019.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Assam Chief Minister welcomes agritech at ‘Krishak Samaroh’

October 2019, Assam, India - Chief Minister of Assam Shri Sarbananda Sonowal was the chief guest in a state-level farmers’ convention-cum-exhibition, known as a ‘Krishak Samaroh’, that was organised on 29 October 2019 by the Department of Agriculture, Directorate of Horticulture & Food Processing (Government of Assam) at Khanapara in Assam’s capital city Guwahati.

Over 10,000 farmers, state and district agriculture department officials visited the exhibition, which included exhibits from the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), agri-entrepreneurs, private-sector organisations, and Farmer-Producer Organizations.

The World Bank-funded ‘Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project’ (APART), exhibited by the Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society (ARIASS) in collaboration with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), was visited by the Chief Minister and his entourage, comprising of Assam Agriculture Production Commissioner Rajesh Kumar & State Project Director, and Director Agriculture, Manoj Kumar.

TRRC identifies nutrition, grain quality as key priorities for temperate rice research

Nanjing, November 2019 - Members of the Temperate Rice Research Consortium (TRRC) steering committee renewed their commitment to joint research and collaboration on temperate rice during this year’s meeting and symposium in Nanjing, China.

Held last 7-9 November 2019 and hosted by the Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (JAAS), the meeting was an opportunity for the consortium to come together after three years and redefine TRRC’s new research direction, identify key future research priorities, and evaluate proposed research programs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Mano Pathak, first IRRI entomologist and director of research and training, passes away

Dr. Mano Dutta Pathak, 85, passed away peacefully at home with family members present in St. Peters, MO, USA, on 6 November 2019. Born in 1934 in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), India, he had also lived in the Philippines and the United States.

One of the key researchers who ushered in the Green Revolution in rice, Mano was an internationally-acclaimed scientist dedicated to improving crop production and agricultural education to eradicate hunger and poverty in the developing world. 

In 1962, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) hired the youthful 28-year-old entomologist who was then studying the stem borer in Indian sorghum fields. He arrived with his family in April that year to be the fledgling institute’s first entomologist in its then Plant Protection Department. He would stay on at IRRI for the next 27 years as an entomologist and upper-level administrator.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Walt Rockwood, former IRRI editor and first ARFUSA president, passes away

Walter G. Rockwood, 91, passed away in Lebanon, New Hampshire, on 24 October 2019. He was an editor for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for 15-plus years, 6 in Information Services at headquarters in the Philippines (1976-82) and then as a part-time consultant for the institute, based in Vermont, editing program reports and other key books throughout most of the 1990s into 2001.

Prior to his time at IRRI, armed with an agriculture degree from the University of Vermont (1950), he served as the Franklin County (Vermont) Extension Dairy Agent. He began his career in the international arena in the Foreign Service during 1963-68 by way of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Togo, Guinea, and Morocco. After earning a Master’s Degree in agricultural communications at the University of Illinois in 1970, he spent 5 years at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. After 1 year in Iran working for the United Nations Development Programme, he came to IRRI. After his full-time stint at IRRI in 1982, he returned to Africa for a time to work in Côte D’Ivoire for the Food for Peace Program.

Friday, October 25, 2019

IRRI leads development of climate mitigation CBA tool for rice production in Vietnam

To support decision-making processes and accelerate the uptake of mitigation technologies in Vietnam, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), with support from the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and UNIQUE Landuse GmbH, conducted a workshop for the development of a cost-benefit assessment (CBA) tool for climate change mitigation options in rice production. 

Held in Hanoi, the workshop aimed to explore different understandings of the roles, needs, and capacities of relevant stakeholders with respect to using a CBA tool. More than 50 participants from the 23 relevant sectors attended the workshop, such as officials from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and attached agencies, experts from international and local research institutes, representatives from various local governments and universities, and a private company.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

SAARC member states agree to institutionalize Seed without Borders

The member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has made the decision to develop a permanent framework and mechanism for the Seeds Without Borders initiative during their Regional Consultative Meeting during 3-5 September 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The meeting, entitled “Seeds without Borders in South Asia” and organized by the SAARC Agriculture Center (SAC) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has identified the multi-country seed sharing agreement as an important component of regional food and nutrition security, and is a key contributor to the mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

IRRI- GrainPro Rice Quality Test Kit that evaluates paddy and seed quality is now commercially available

Rice quality is an important consideration for its consumers. To effectively market their harvested rice, producers and processors must have the ability to assess if the quality is of high standards and meets the demand of the market.

Originally developed as a training tool by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) postharvest experts, the IRRI Grain Quality Kit is being used by rice processors and producers to gain a better understanding of the desirable rice quality traits and the factors that affect them. These would help them identify problems in advance and make necessary adjustments to minimize quality loss along the rice value chain.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Former IRRI Scientist receives alumni award from UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Dr. Kyu-Seong Lee, a former IRRI Scientist, was one of the recipients of the University of the Philippines Los Banos’ (UPLB) Distinguished Alumni award, given by the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. This award recognizes university alumni for their exemplary achievements in their respective fields, and whose works have had a positive national and international impact.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Mindanao farmers learn about sustainable straw management from RiceStrawPH

Farmers and extension agents witness the operation of
small round baler in Mlang, North Cotabato.
Rounding up their initiatives to educate farmers and encourage mechanized straw collection in North Cotabato and Bukidnon this October, IRRI, in partnership with PhilRice, Philippine Carabao Center and Philmech held their last two demonstrations last October 1 and 4. The project runs under the DA-BAR funded “Development of Sustainable Rice Straw Practices and Technologies for Food, Feed and Bioenergy in the Philippines” (RiceStrawPH).

The demonstration aims to promote mechanized straw collection for sustainable management of rice straw for alternative uses to minimize the effect on the environment such as greenhouse gas emissions from in-field burning and anaerobic decomposition in the field. The Chief of the Office of Provincial Agriculture (OPAG) in North Cotabato, Ms Abedece Curtiz, gave full support to the initiative, remarking that the rice straw baler being used to collect rice straw can help farmers make money by using it as feeds, as medium of mushroom production, and to generate bioenergy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Building capacity for geographic information systems in agriculture

The Geospatial Science and Modelling (GSM) cluster of the Sustainable Impact Platform recently conducted a 5-day training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as applied to agriculture, particularly to rice  research.

GIS techniques and related Earth observing  technologies  - Remote Sensing (RS), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs or drones) - are  used for a variety of applications, including crop monitoring, modeling and forecasting, and damage assessment, making them key tools for increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Technological innovations abound at Hack4Rice 2019

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) along with its technical partner Amazon Web Services (AWS), organized Hack4Rice 2019, a software/hardware hackathon focused on technological solutions that can be adapted for rice research. Held at the IRRI Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, the theme for this year’s hackathon is “Advancing Rice Research Through Tech and Innovation” which aimed to bring people with diverse backgrounds together and nurture a community of collaboration and innovation. 

With the idyllic scenery of mountains and rice fields in the background, the participants had the opportunity to interact with IRRI specialists involved in rice research and operations, external partners, and participants from different sectors who were able to provide valuable insights about rice research in general as well as perceived pain points that the hackathon hoped to solve including challenges related to rice research and agriculture in general as well as an IRRI-specific challenge on phenotype prediction.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Advancing pest resilience through molecular breeding

Phnom Penh -  The Leveraging Diversity for Ecologically-Based Pest Management (VERDE) project in Cambodia advanced their capacity building efforts with a training workshop on molecular breeding techniques.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the VERDE project aims to develop smart deployment of pest-resistant genes, test ecological engineering mechanisms for managing rice pests, and reduce pesticide dependency without negative impacts on yield.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Compositional analysis shows beta-carotene biofortified Golden rice is safe and has potential to address Vitamin A deficiency

The introduction of any new product or technology is often met with questions and concerns. For food crops like Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene in its grains, most people want to know whether it is safe to eat, and if it has any additional health benefits. In an article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in June 2019, Dr. B.P. Mallikarjuna Swamy and the Healthier Rice team at IRRI and PhilRice, presented findings showing the nutrient content of Golden Rice, and the potential nutritional impact of the added beta-carotene content. 

Leading regulatory agencies evaluate food safety claims based on the concept of substantial equivalence, a term coined by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1993 and adopted by international organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), which refers to the need to provide evidence demonstrating that a genetically modified food crop is as safe as its existing counterparts. Compositional analyses, such as those presented in Swamy’s publication, measure and compare specific components of new food crops and compare this with existing plant counterparts.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Rice straw project team wins the outstanding research and development award in the Los Baños science community

IRRI delivers through research excellence. The Sustainable Rice Straw Management project team won the Development Category of the Philippine Agriculture and Resources Research Foundation, Inc. (PARRFI) Outstanding Research and Development Awards. The award will be given by the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) on August 30 during the National Science and Technology week, SyenSaya 2019. 

The team’s winning entry was “Sustainable Rice Straw Management in the Philippines”, which highlights the effort of IRRI, together with its partners from the Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Carabao Center, the Philippine Postharvest Development Center and Mechanization (PhilMech), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños towards creating sustainable rice straw management technologies and practices in the country. Through the project, the following technologies were developed: 1) inoculant- supported rice straw incorporation, 2) mechanized collection of rice straw; 3) rice –straw based mushroom production; 4) rice straw silage for ruminants, 5) mechanized composting; and 6 ) rice straw for bioenergy. The project also enabled cross country training and workshops that generate knowledge learning and sharing among project partners in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Friday, August 30, 2019

BMZ funded project holds planning meeting

The  IRRI-coordinated project, VERDE (Leveraging Diversity for Ecologically Based Pest Management) is holding its 2nd Annual Meeting and Planning Workshop at Himawari Hotel, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that began on 27 August 2019  and followed by  field experiments’ tour in Prey Veng province on 28 August. Thirty (30) researchers and scientists from partners in Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Cambodia; Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh; and the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany., participated in the event. This research project grant came from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Thursday, August 29, 2019

UPLB, IRRI student wins best scientific poster at prestigious Asian genomic congress

Kuala Lumpur ~ Lawrence Uy, a masteral student of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) that is advancing his studies at the Genetic Transformation Laboratory of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), received the award for best scientific poster presentation at the 6th Plant Genomics and Gene Editing Congress Asia, held in Malaysia last 29-30 July 2019.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Vietnam and IRRI explore future collaborations for enhancing rice sector productivity and resilience to climate change

In a courtesy call in Hanoi, Dr. Matthew Morell, Director-General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) met with Dr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture, to discuss ways to increase the resilience of domestic agriculture to climate change, as well as to enhance the productivity and access to markets of rice farmers.

Minister Cuong discussed with Dr. Morell the priority areas where Vietnam, specifically the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and its attached agencies, would like support from IRRI. Minister Cuong stressed that “MARD will coordinate with the IRRI Vietnam country office to work on our agricultural policies to help improve the lives of our farmers.” Several existing and pending collaborative programs between IRRI and MARD will also push through in the coming years.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Making inroads for food security through cutting-edge farming technology

“We could never imagine before today a farming equipment and technology exhibition being held in our village”, said Jadav Basumatary, a progressive farmer from Barkachari Gaon, block Kathiatoli, district Nagaon in Assam; a scenic state, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys in India.

It is so encouraging to see so many new machines that could reinvigorate farming in our villages, making it profitable and maybe even generate more employment” he adds, looking over at the latest farm machinery lined up at the farm mechanization and technology exhibition organized in June by IRRI and partners under project ‘Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation’ (APART).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

IRRI facilitates productive partnerships between farmer cooperatives and rice seller in Cambodia

29 July 2019, Siem Reap ~ The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) continues its strong support for the Cambodian government’s efforts to bolster their country’s rice sector.

Last week, IRRI and the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) helped facilitate the contract signing of 16 rice agricultural cooperatives with AMRU Rice Company, one of the country’s fast-growing rice brands.

A total of twenty contracts were signed by AMRU President Oknha Song Saron and the farmer representatives of the cooperatives. Four were for the supply of quality seeds, and the rest were for paddy rice production and purchase.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

IRRI, PhilRice, and JIRCAS hold WeRise training for researchers

Researchers from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) received training on WeRise (Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system), an information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) tool on 22-26 July 2019 at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.  Through an IRRI-Japan collaborative research project, WeRise was developed and piloted in Indonesia. It integrates localized seasonal climate predictions and real-time weather data with a crop growth model to provide advisories on the best time to plant, fertilizer application schedule, and the suitable varieties for planting. Under the IRRI, PhilRice and JIRCAS joint research agreement (JRA), WeRise is being localized to suit rainfed rice areas in the Philippines.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Vietnam highlights climate-smart rice production in new training modules

The training materials were presented to the representatives of the different provincial extension offices.
Photo: NAEC 

12 July 2019, Ha Nam province, Vietnam – The National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, formally launched the training materials on climate-smart production. The initiative was carried out with the support of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA), and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of extension workers in mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation in rice production in the country.

Dr. Tran Van Khoi, director of NAEC, recognized the development of the training materials as a significant achievement of the one-year collaboration of NAEC, IRRI and CCAFS. He emphasized that “the training materials can be considered as an innovative approach, as they provide comprehensive guidelines to trainers on the delivery of the lessons, which can be later applied by NAEC on other equally important agriculture topics.”

Transition of Rice Crop Manager Advisory Service to the Philippines Department of Agriculture kicks off

The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture prepares to take the lead of the Rice Crop Manager (RCM) Advisory Service from IRRI, through the RCM Advisory Service Transition Workshop on July 24-25, 2019. Key stakeholders actively participated in strengthening inter-agency collaboration that is a vital component of the project “RCM Philippines Phase 3: Transition to Operational Sustainability for Research and Dissemination from IRRI to DA” which becomes official after 2021.

The overall project objective is to increase the capacity and institutional readiness for the integration and transition of RCM research, dissemination, operations and IT processes within the appropriate DA agencies towards full interoperability with other DA-funded projects with support from IRRI. In order to achieve this objective, project activities include system optimization of RCM Advisory Service; joint programming of IRRI and DA staff; and management of source codes and databases transfer from IRRI to DA in 2021. One of the first steps to do this is to get the commitment and buy-in of key stakeholders in this process.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

IRRI Bangladesh wins best poster presentation at 2019 KSBS SABRAO International Conference

Scientist MK Hossain from the Bangladesh Office of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) won the best poster presentation at the 2019 International Conference on Plant Breeding for Sustainable Development, which was held last July 2-5 2019 in Gwangju City, South Korea.

The conference, organized by the The Korean Society for Breeding Science (KSBS) and the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia and Oceania (SABRAO), aims to promote scientific and technical cooperation among scientists working in plant breeding and genetics in order to contribute towards progress in agricultural production and food security in the region.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Seed quality managers and technicians enhance skills on seed conservation

In partnership with the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), IRRI hosted the Seed Quality Management (SQM) Workshop on 10-14 June, 2019, with IRRI’s Jae-Sung Lee, deputy overall management of IRRI Genebank, convening the event.

The SQM led by Dr. Fiona Hay, a former IRRI scientist and now working at Aarhus University, Denmark, is one of core activities in the CGIAR Genebank Platform. It pursues to improve seed quality and longevity through better genebank practices based on scientific evidences.

“It was a great opportunity to interact with other international/ national genebank staff. The outputs of the workshop will influence the future direction of seed conservation for world-important crop species”, said Dr. Lee.

The workshop resulted in four proposed SQM projects: 1) automation and image analysis; 2) seed longevity; 3) post-harvest handling; and 4) seed dormancy planned for the next phase of SQM from 2020. Better genebank operations and improved seed quality through those projects will maximize the impact of research, thus adheres to the IRRI’s theme–‘Harnessing rice genetic diversity to accelerate impact’. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Smarter planning for better planting: building capacity for WeRise technology to help rice farmers increase productivity and income

West Lombok, Indonesia - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology West Nusa Tenggara (AIAT-WNT), organized a two-day training for agricultural extension workers to deliver advisories to rice farmers through the Weather-rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise).

WeRise is an Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) tool that integrates seasonal climate predictions with crop growth and nutrient management models to provide recommendations on optimum planting times, suitable rice varieties to use, and the timing of fertilizer application for rainfed rice-growing areas under current and future climate conditions. As farmers continue to grapple with the effects of climate change, the IRRI-Japan Collaborative Research Project (IJCRP) developed the WeRise platform to help farmers plan their crop calendar to increase yields and resilience as well as practice efficient water use. In this way, WeRise aims to improve rainfed rice productivity and the livelihoods of farmers.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

IRRI partners with social enterprise to incubate women’s producer company

As a concerted effort to test various models of women’s entrepreneurship development in rice agri-food systems, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has partnered with Access Livelihoods Consulting (ALC) India in the Dharmagarh and Kokasara blocks of Kalahandi district, Odisha to incubate a rural women-producer enterprise with 3,000 women farmers. This is undertaken through the project ‘Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer's Income in Odisha’ supported by the State Government of Odisha. The initiative aims to double the income of the women farmers and groom the next generation of rural women leaders to conduct businesses profitably and sustainably.

Declared as one of India’s aspirational districts by policy think tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), and considered the “Rice Bowl of Odisha”, Kalahandi is where the major livelihood activities of a large section of rural population revolve around the paddy-based food system. In the two selected blocks of the district, more than 80% of the farmers are small and marginal with an average land-holding of less than 3 acres.  In Koksara, 80.9% of the cropping area is rain-fed and in the Dharamgarh block, 40% of the area is under canal irrigation. 34.8% of the women belong to the Scheduled Tribal (ST) community with an average annual income of below INR 40,000 and a major part of their income comes through paddy farming.

The Producer Company will provide all the services which include inputs (seed, fertilizers, bio-pesticides), agricultural machinery, financial services and marketing for its members and facilitate access to the latest technologies in production, processing, information and traceability. It will facilitate linkages with multiple stakeholders like government, financial institutions, knowledge Institutions and, markets and also, create adequate risk coverage mechanisms.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

IRRI leads the first roundtable discussion on laser-assisted land leveling in the Philippines

IRRI and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) increases the profitability and sustainability of rice production by utilizing appropriate mechanization as enshrined in the country’s rice roadmap. 

With this, IRRI, the DA, with other rice industry stakeholders in the Philippines convened to share progress, discuss issues, and craft strategies in promoting laser leveling technologies.

Jon Hellin, leader of Sustainable Impact Platform, said that  “Laser Land Leveling was developed in the late 1990s and is a nice example of a technology development leading to considerable field operations efficiency, and towards environmental and financial sustainability. One of the reasons for this roundtable is to discuss how to scale the laser land leveling technology, share experiences from different agroecologies, farmer typologies, different methods, and approaches to scaling.” He also emphasized the importance of partnerships that will help accelerate the access to technologies.

Monday, July 1, 2019

54th Annual Rice Research Group Meeting furthering rice research in India

ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (NRRI, Cuttack), ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR, Hyderabad) and Association of Rice Research Workers Cuttack organized the 54th Annual Rice Group Meeting at NRRI between May 30 and June 2.

A team of senior scientists from IRRI India and the Philippines participated in the event where over 300 scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes, state agricultural universities and state departments of agriculture in India deliberated on the progress and challenges in 2018-19 in rice production. Future research opportunities of collaborations and the road map to address national priorities in the rice sector for India and South Asia were a highlight of the meeting.

IRRI, CCAFS support the promotion of climate-smart rice production in Vietnam

Dr. Nguyen Viet Khoa, head of Training and Education Division of the National Agriculture Extension Center, presenting the draft modules on climate-smart rice production. Photo by: NAEC
To mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation in rice production, the National Agriculture Extension Center (NAEC) of Vietnam developed a set of training materials on climate-smart rice production for extension staff and rice farmers. With the help of experts from the various agencies attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, such as the institutes of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, NAEC drafted updated modules and presentations on the different steps of rice production and on effective communication and extension.

Eight specific modules were developed tackling topics such as adaptive cropping calendar (rice varieties, soil preparation, and crop establishment); water management; waste and by-product management, reducing post-harvest losses; and scaling and evaluation. For the first time a specific module on climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rice production has been included in the training outline as well. Alongside improving the clarity of lessons, the participants were also trained on how to keep the interest and attention of farmers, another crucial element for a successful training. The modules are intended to be used in the rice intensive region of Red River Delta, and eventually later-on, in the Mekong River Delta.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dr. Jauhar Ali invited to University of Bonn for special seminar on climate-smart rice

18 June 2019 – IRRI Senior Scientist and Head of Hybrid Rice Breeding Dr. Jauhar Ali was invited last June 12 by the Institute for Crop Sciences and Resource Conservation of the University of Bonn, Germany to give a special seminar on ‘climate-smart rice for global food security’.

Dr. Ali’s seminar, which was attended by students and staff of the university, established the importance of rice as a global food staple, and how research into areas like climate-resilient crops, biofortification, crop management technologies, and policies on food availability and access can help ensure food and nutrition security.

Dr. Ali then went on to talk about Green Super Rice (GSR), a category of rice varieties and hybrids so named for their environmental sustainability and high resource-use efficiency. These cultivars, developed through an IRRI breeding strategy of identifying promising introgression lines with target traits and bred through Designed QTL Pyramiding, combine high yield potential with less inputs, multiple biotic and abiotic tolerances, and good grain quality that can help farmers achieve stable harvests and income amid climatic stresses. 

IRRI boosts South-South cooperation in preparation for the 2020 India-Africa Summit

7 June 2019 -- A round table discussion organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in New Delhi, brought senior diplomats from African countries and India, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, participants from the public and private sectors, senior academics and CGIAR partners together to discuss challenges and prospects for enhancing India-Africa cooperation on agricultural research and capacity building for development.

Over 80% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa depend on agriculture.  The demand for rice in the region is growing at over 6% per year due to rising population, better incomes, urbanization and shifting consumer preferences. To meet this rising demand, the region imported 16 million tons of milled rice in 2018 at a cost of around US$ 6 billion. “There is a need to build robust rice-based agri-food systems in Africa using the knowledge and overall progress made in India, to increase food production and improve nutrition”, said Dr Abdelbagi Ismail, IRRI Representative in Africa.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail receives prestigious Fellowship of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences

5 June 2019, Delhi, India - Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, Principal Scientist and IRRI Representative in Africa was presented the prestigious Fellowship of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India as a foreign fellow. The honour is effective January of 2019 and was conferred to Dr. Ismail in a formal ceremony chaired by Dr. Panjab Singh, President of the academy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

John Sheehy, former IRRI senior scientist, passes away in UK

John E. Sheehy, 76, a crop ecologist and crop modeler at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for 14 years (1995-2009), passed away last Friday (7 June 2019) after battling Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA) for several years in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK.

For his entire time at IRRI, he headed the Applied Photosynthesis and Systems Modeling Laboratory. He was also head of IRRI’s Climate Unit and Systems Modeling Group and was adjunct professor in the Agronomy Department of the University of the Philippines Los Bańos.

At the turn of the century, he kick-started a project designed to make rice utilize photosynthesis more efficiently. It all started with a think tank that he organized, which was attended by a small group of elite modelers, systems analyzers, ecologists, and environmental and crop physiologists who were on a quest to reduce hunger by redesigning rice photosynthesis. The gathering was at IRRI in the Philippines, 30 November–3 December 1999. The result was a proceedings that became the “Bible” for a while as research got underway. It was superseded by Charting new pathways to C4 rice, published by IRRI and World Scientific, emanating from a 2006 follow-up workshop to catch up with the rapidly growing literature. 

In an interview (15:11) given at IRRI on 26 March 2013, Dr. Sheehy talked about the project’s concept. “C4 rice is the ultimate goal of rice scientists' attempt to supercharge photosynthesis, the process by which a plant uses sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce carbohydrates—in rice so that it yields more grain. Rice, a C3 plant, uses these resources far less efficiently than C4 plants (e.g., maize) do. A C4 rice plant would use less water and fertilizer and produce at least 50% more grain.”

Dr. Sheehy appreciated that IRRI could not realize the dream of developing C4 rice alone. So, after the 1999 think tank, he set about persuading, and bringing together, a group of many of the best scientists worldwide to join in the C4 Rice Project. In 2008, he helped secure partial funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which continues support to this day. At the time of his death, and after 20 years of research, C4 rice is not yet a reality, but significant progress has been made. The ongoing Project is indeed an important part of Dr. Sheehy’s scientific legacy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Thailand gears up innovations on land leveling

Proper use of the laser-guided land leveling system entails correct and safe tractor operation
The Phraojen Village is one of the rice-producing areas in Chainat province that needs more water during dry season. “Although we have adequate supply of water through the Chao Phraya River, we don’t have enough during the dry season so we need to take measures,” said Winai Jaengan, village head.

To overcome this challenge, the village members rely on underground irrigation during the dry season. “This is costly for us because it needs more fuel to pump the water out.   Additionally, the farmers use small walking tractors which takes time and more cost to level the field,” he added.

The Thai Rice Department, in partnership with IRRI through the CORIGAP project has introduced innovations in rice production. One of these innovations is the laser-guided land leveling.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ushering Vietnam towards a new rice revolution using best management practices

IRRI, through the World Bank-funded project “Vietnam – Sustainable Agricultural Transformation (VnSAT),” continues to build initiatives towards producing high quality, certified environmentally safe rice in Vietnam.

By ensuring the use of sustainable best management practices in rice by following 1 Must Do, 5 Reductions (1M5R), IRRI provides technical assistance to increase the adoption of this practice that will feed into the certification of global standards like Sustainable Rice Platform. This initiative complements government supported policies like Small Farmer, Large Fields to enable smallholder farmers reap benefits from producing sustainable rice.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

IRRI and Korea partner to catalyze rural transformation through rice science

By working with Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA), IRRI enables rural transformation through the adoption of technologies and practices to solve complex global problems in rice-growing countries and beyond.

Since 2002, IRRI has partnered with RDA in organizing the two-week Rice Technology Transfer Systems Training Workshop (RTTS). Through this program, more than 250 participants from nine Asian countries had the opportunity to evaluate global challenges facing rice research and development. Participants were also involved in various interactive and participatory learning methods to identify and analyze research-extension linkages that enable adoption of successful new rice technologies in the field.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Learning about the roses and thorns of digital survey data collection

Conducting a survey can be an arduous task. It entails encoding, printing, and processing, not to mention the struggle of recording handwritten notes that are sometimes difficult to read. Consequently, it can lead to gathering less reliable data.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Staying ahead of the curve: CGIAR holds Germplasm Seed Health Workshop

Germplasm exchange is a regulated process governed by the phytosanitary policies and procedures of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and national plant protection organizations. Since inception, CGIAR centres have adopted strict code of practice to ensure phytosanitary compliance executed by the purpose-made Germplasm/Seed  Health Units (GHUs), established as per the IPPC recommendation in the 6th International Plant Protection Congress held in Montreal in August 1993. The GHUs, titled differently in some centres (e.g. Plant Quarantine Unit, Seed Health Unit, Health Quarantine Unit), have a common mission of preventing the risk of accidental spread of pests and pathogens along with the germplasm. GHUs have adopted a multipronged interdisciplinary approach to accomplish this important objective.