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Race for Impact

Annual Report 2019

Race for Impact

Around the world, value chains and food systems are being transformed at a rapid pace. As countries continue to grapple with this reality along with the realities of climate change, pandemics, and increasing poverty and hunger, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) stands ready to ensure the sustainability of the global rice sector, which provides food for half the world’s people.

For 60 years, IRRI’s work on rice has played a pivotal role in increasing agricultural productivity and providing technological and innovative solutions for governments and farmers across Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa and it continues to work with AfricaRice to adapt solutions across African landscapes. As a decentralized international organization, IRRI is able to rapidly move ideas, technology, and people across the globe to accelerate innovation, development, and adoption.

Transforming the world’s rice-based agri-food systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are no small challenges. In these crucial times, IRRI is focused on bolstering the resilience of the global rice sector against economic shocks while attempting to help meet the deadlines for many SDG indicators and targets. IRRI is committed to working across its 17 offices and with its trusted network of partners to ensure that in the race for impact, no one gets left behind.

Director General's Message


This year, I was anticipating reporting to you about the positive year we’ve had at IRRI in 2019. However, as I sit down to write this, 2020 has delivered us a global pandemic that threatens to permanently alter the most fundamental aspects of our lives–not least of all for the rice-based farmers and consumers that we serve.

Our partner governments are facing incredible challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the world food supply chains have been interrupted and individuals and families face pressing hardship. At IRRI, we have a moral obligation to help our partner governments find the best way forward towards a smooth supply chain, consistent pricing, and adequate support for farmers. We are actively engaging with our partners' needs and stand ready to help further as needs become clearer.

DG Message

Impact challenges

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Sustainable Development Goals



Sustainable Development Goals

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Sustainable Development Goals

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Sustainable Development Goals



Sustainable Development Goals

Impact Challenges

Where we work

Where we Work


Be the linchpin of scientific innovation and thought leadership for the global rice sector

The paradigm on which food policies are built is changing rapidly. Today, it is increasingly recognized that agriculture and food policies should align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by addressing several human and planet centered goals through interconnected and complementary impact pathways. To achieve this, IRRI continues to work towards high-impact, scalable innovations that re-focus global solutions to local needs.



Create and support a network of catalytic agents to drive wide-spread adoption of high-level innovations and technologies

IRRI provides optimal solutions for changing consumer preferences and nutritional requirements, climate resilience, resource scarcity, and other issues that impact those who depend on rice for food and livelihood. In 2019, IRRI launched multi-stakeholder initiatives around nutritious and climate-resilient rice varieties, sustainable farming practices, and resource-efficient cultivation and mechanization that provide further pathways for improved agri-food systems across Asia and Africa.

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Global highlights


Establish a track record of delivering successful policy interventions and institutional capacity building programs that underpin the development of equitable and sustainable rice sectors globally

Using reliable scientific evidence, IRRI cuts through a multitude of options and designs appropriate knowledge tools and policy environments. In the last year, IRRI helped fast-track the approval of several high-impact policies, instrumental in strengthening local and regional rice sectors and bringing countries closer to a sustainable, food-secure future.

Global Highlights

Awards and Accolades

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Abdelbagi Ismail receives Fellowship of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Abdelbagi Ismail, IRRI representative for Eastern and Southern Africa received the prestigious Fellowship of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India as a foreign fellow. The fellowship was bestowed upon Dr. Ismail in recognition of his outstanding contributions to understanding tolerance of drought, cold, and heat in dry-land crops, as well as for salinity and different types of flooding stresses in rice. He also contributed to developing phenotyping tools, markers, and varieties which generated significant impacts in South and Southeast Asia, and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

IRRI researcher wins best scientific poster at prestigious Asian genomic congress

Lawrence Uy, a researcher at IRRI’s Genetic Transformation Laboratory, received the award for best scientific poster presentation at the 6th Plant Genomics and Gene Editing Congress Asia in Malaysia in July 2019. The poster, Gn1a and TGW6 Targeted Knock-Down via Genome Editing Increases Yield Components in Samba Mahsuri, featured research on how grain number and grain weight can be significantly improved through targeted knock-down of gene regulators using CRISPR-Cpf1. 
Also acknowledged were Mr. Uy’s co-authors Drs. Yvonne Ludwig and Inez Slamet-Loedin from IRRI and Drs. Merlyn Mendiolo, Ma. Carmina Manuel, and Jorge Angeles from the University of the Philippines.

Myanmar recognizes IRRI contributions

Myanmar’s Department of Agricultural Research acknowledged IRRI’s valued partnership and contributions to the country’s agriculture sector during its 65th anniversary celebration.
IRRI and Myanmar have been collaborating on rice research for more than half a century, beginning with the 1967 introduction of the high-yielding IR8 rice variety (locally known as Yar Gyaw). Recent key achievements include the development of the Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy and Climate-Smart Agriculture Strategy, the release of 81 IRRI rice varieties, the dissemination of post-harvest technologies and best crop management practices, and building institutional capacity.

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IRRI passes global standards in stewardship for its biotech research

IRRI is now recognized by the Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS) Organization after its successful completion of the audit cycle under the ETS Global Audit Process.

The ETS, a global not-for-profit organization, drives the universal adoption of stewardship programs and quality managements systems for the full life cycle of agricultural technology products  biotech research. Members include agriculture research leaders Bayer CropScience, BASF Plant Science, Mahyco, and Syngenta. Through the membership, IRRI will have access to expert advice and guidance in the implementation of its stewardship programs and quality management systems, and an independent third party audit to verify them.

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

MK Hossain from the IRRI-Bangladesh Office won the best poster presentation at the 2019 International Conference on Plant Breeding for Sustainable Development in Gwangju City, South Korea.
The poster, The promise of genomic selection in breaking yield ceiling in rice, illustrates how IRRI’s high throughput molecular markers and data-driven breeding decision-support tools reduce breeding cycles 2-3 fold and make it easier to select for best traits. The poster was authored by Dr. Hossain in collaboration with IRRI Bangladesh Plant Breeding team led by Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, and partners from the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture.

Former Vietnamese minister of agriculture appointed as member of IRRI Board of Trustees

Cao Đức Phát, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) from 2004 to 2016, was recently appointed as a new member of IRRI's Board of Trustees effective January 2019. During his time as head of MARD, Dr. Phát enabled IRRI to have an active role in the development of the rice restructuring plan of Vietnam. He was also instrumental in strengthening the research and capacity building collaboration between IRRI and the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS).

Awards & Accolades

Statement by the Chair of the IRRI Board of Trustees for the year ended 31 December 2019

2019 was a significant year with regards to the advancement of IRRI’s mandate of creating impact. The institute continues to pursue and strengthen relationships with governments and private sector partners around the world, taking the lead in strategic initiatives and supporting transformative innovations in both policy and technology. Research remains a core strength, as numerous projects in IRRI Headquarters, the South Asia Regional Centre in India, and the regions gain momentum and deliver key outputs. While the global financial situation continues to be challenging, enhanced management of resources and fiscal responsibility have led to the institute’s first net surplus in six years.

Financial highlights
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IRRI continues to be the lead center for the CGIAR Research Program on Rice (RICE CRP), joined by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and over 600 other partners across the globe. RICE CRP aims to address nine  of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDCs) and 26 of their 169 targets. The RICE CRP has been approved for operation through 2021.

Despite continued budget cuts in the CGIAR Fund in 2019, IRRI’s financial position remains stable, with total assets of USD 73.664 million compared with USD 83.829 million in 2018. The decrease of USD 10.165 million was balanced by a corresponding decrease in total liabilities and net assets. The liquidity and long-term stability indicators remained above CGIAR benchmarks. After six (6) consecutive years of losses, IRRI reported a net surplus of USD 1.187 million in 2019.

In 2019, IRRI’s grant portfolio was USD 63.791 million, which included USD 4.063 million of RICE CRP Windows 1 and 2 funds for the flagship expenses of our CGIAR partners, AfricaRice and CIAT. 

In 2018, the Institute's financial statements became fully compliant to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and are now aligned with international quality standards for financial reporting that are recognized inter alia by donors, the banking industry, partners, and potential collaborators. Further, compliance to this standard allows for comparability with other organizations and enhances the annual audit report.

Statement Chair BOT

Our investors

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Republic of India

  • Assam Rural Infrastructure & Agricultural Services Society

  • Department of Biotechnology

  • Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, & Farmers Welfare

  • Government of Andhra Pradesh

  • Government of Karnataka

  • Government of Odisha

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research

Global Crop Diversity Trust

Government of Japan

  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

  • Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF)

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

People’s Republic of China

  • Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS)

  • Provincial Government of Yunnan

  • Ministry of Agriculture - Department of International Cooperation

Republic of Germany

  • Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

  • Nama Facility

Republic of the Philippines

  • Department of Agriculture Agricultural Training Institute

  • Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Research

  • Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry

  • DA Regional Field Offices - ARMM, CAR,I, II, IVA, IVB, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII

  • Land Bank of the Philippines

  • Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD)

  • Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

The World Bank

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

  • UK Space Agency

United States of America

  • National Science Foundation

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

European Commission
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Rural Development Administration (Korea)

Syngenta Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

United Nations Environment Programme

Access Agriculture
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research 
African Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
AXA Research Fund
Catholic Relief Services
Central de Achat & Prestations
CIRAD Agricultural Research for Development
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 
Council of Agriculture of the Republic of China
DKT Liberty Project
General Directorate of Agricultural Research (Turkey)
Mr. George Chung Hang Liang
International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Instituto de Investigacao Cientifica Tropical

Kingdom of Thailand
Lee Foundation
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation (MOALI)
People's Republic of Bangladesh
Provivi, Inc.
Reliance Industries Limited
Republic of Indonesia
Republic of Korea
Republic of Mozambique
Republic of Turkey
Rothamsted Research Limited
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Vietnam)
United Nations Women

We would like to thank all funders who supported our research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund (

Our partners


  • AfricaRice

  • Bioversity International

  • HarvestPlus

  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture

  • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

  • International Food Policy Research Institute

  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

  • WorldFish


  • Aberystwyth University

  • Cornell University

  • Cranfield University

  • Heinrich Heine University of Duesseldorf

  • Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine

  • Kansas State University

  • Nagoya University

  • National Academy of Sciences, USA

  • New York University

  • The National Institute of Agricultural Botany

  • Pennsylvania State University

  • Université Catholique de Bukavu

  • University of California, Berkeley

  • University of Cambridge

  • University of Nottingham

  • University of Oxford

  • University of Sheffield

  • University of South Carolina

  • University of the Philippines Los Baños

  • University of York

  • University of Zurich

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Wageningen University

Our Investors
A World with IRRI
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