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.