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.

To address the impacts of climate change, Minister Cuong commended IRRI for its continued support of the national breeding program of Vietnam to produce climate change-tolerant rice varieties. Minister Cuong emphasized that through rice breeding “we are able to protect the rich and diverse rice biodiversity of Vietnam.”

Minister Cuong also requested for IRRI’s help in studying and developing Vietnam’s rice market, such as exploring non-traditional markets in Africa and Latin America.

Dr. Morell proudly shared that the 50-year longstanding partnership between Vietnam and IRRI has produced significant gains, including boosting yields of southern Vietnamese farmers by an average of 9.8% per year, just through IRRI’s breeding contributions. Minister Cuong agreed that IRRI’s support to Vietnam helped them achieve a lot of successes in the agriculture sector, particularly in increasing rice sufficiency and knowledge expertise. “IRRI’s high quality germplasm is a key foundation of our national breeding program, and the collaborative capacity development initiatives have resulted in a network of highly qualified rice experts in the country.”

Minister Cuong expressed to Dr. Morell Vietnam’s gratitude for the 50 years of collaboration between IRRI and MARD, with the ministry agreeing to the joint hosting of an event in Hanoi to celebrate this fruitful partnership.

After meeting with the minister, Dr. Morell proceeded to visit Dr. Cao Duc Phat, the former minister of agriculture and a member of the IRRI Board of Trustees. They discussed several issues concerning the Vietnamese agriculture sector, such as climate change impacts and rice production. Dr. Phat also suggested that IRRI should design a program package of research and technology development that  addresses productivity as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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