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.
IRRI boosts South-South cooperation in preparation for the 2020 India-Africa Summit
IRRI and the Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries in New Delhi organized a round table discussion to tackle challenges and prospects for enhancing India-Africa cooperation on agricultural research and capacity building for development.
Dr. Sachin Chaturvedi, RIS director general emphasized the role of think tanks in India and Africa to facilitate policy dialogues that shape future narratives of research for development in agriculture. Chairing the inaugural session, His Excellency, Ben Joubert, Acting High Commissioner for South African High Commission, highlighted the need to further the Africa Agenda 2063 by optimally using indigenous knowledge for evidence-based policies and said that recommendations from the discussion should feed into the next India-Africa Summit in 2020. He also emphasized the critical role of gender in agriculture since in many African countries, women form the bulk of farmers.
Over 80% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa depends on agriculture where the demand for rice 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 for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Philippines approves Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing
After a rigorous biosafety assessment, Golden Rice “has been found to be as safe as conventional rice" by the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry. The biosafety permit, addressed to PhilRice and IRRI, details the approval of GR2E Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing.
The Philippines joins a select group of countries that have affirmed the safety of Golden Rice. In 2018, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Health Canada, and the United States Food and Drug Administration published positive food safety assessments for Golden Rice.
IRRI, IFA spark discussion on sustainable agriculture at COP25
IRRI and the International Fertilizer Association organized Earth, Air, Fire, & Water: Elements for Sustainability at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change in Madrid, Spain. The session presented interventions categorized into the 4 “elements” that could contribute to both climate change adaptation and mitigation, from enhancing nutrients in the soil to developing varieties of crops that emit less GHG.
IRRI defined a coherent research portfolio on climate change emphasizing adaptation, mitigation, and policy. This sets rice production into the broader context of food supply and food security alongside socio-economic issues, such as rural development and gender mainstreaming.
Other IRRI initiatives include the development of climate-smart rice varieties that can tolerate adverse climate conditions and poor soils. There are also water-saving and resource-efficient technologies and crop management systems that help reduce resource-use and input, such as micro-irrigation, direct seeding, and ICT tools like AutoMon.
IRRI secures endorsement for ASEAN Rice Net
IRRI successfully secured the endorsement of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States and the support of Plus Three dialogue partners for the launch of ASEAN Rice Net, a regional network for sharing and evaluating advanced IRRI-developed rice breeding lines.
The endorsement enables IRRI to also liaise closely with the ASEAN Plus Three Dialogue Partners, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea for the development of both technical and financing support modalities for the network.
The collaborative partnership is underpinned by the Rice Genetic Solutions for Climate Resilience and Value Addition program. The program will accelerate farmers’ access to high-value varieties under climate change environmental conditions and drive long-term increases in rice productivity and incomes.
ADB-IRRI eye increased investments for sustainable agriculture technologies
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and IRRI completed a technical assistance project which aims to help governments identify and prioritize appropriate climate-resilient agricultural technologies and practices for high-impact investment.
Under the Investment Assessment and Application of High-Level Technology for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific, IRRI and select national research organizations piloted the project Climate-smart practices and varieties for intensive rice-based systems in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Cambodia, The pilot includes a) identification of constraints, policy, institutional support, and logistics needed to scale up climate-smart water-saving mechanized technologies; b) demonstration of climate-smart agricultural practices (CSAs) related to rice-based systems; and (c) development of a database along with evidence of benefits from CSAs using participatory approaches.
Technologies and methods tested included alternate wetting and drying (AWD) and mechanized direct-seeded rice, the distribution of high yielding rice varieties with short duration and better grain quality), and the introduction of mechanization for crop establishment and rice harvesting. The intensification and diversification of rice-based cropping systems in target areas were also prioritized for the pilot.
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.
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.
Cambodia and Sri Lanka join Seeds without Borders
Cambodia and Sri Lanka have joined a regional seed policy agreement that speeds up the distribution of modern rice varieties across nations in South and Southeast Asia. The two countries formally entered Seeds without Borders: Regional cooperation for seed-sharing during a meeting of agriculture ministers and representatives from Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam in June 2019 in Siem Reap.
“What we have seen here today is an example of how effective national leadership and vision can lead us to a future where nations are connected by seeds without borders,” said IRRI Director General Matthew Morell. “Agro-ecological zones and the effects of climate change don’t stop at borders, so the availability of high-quality seeds shouldn’t either.”
Originally signed by India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2014, the agreement will now expand to include other crops, in addition to rice.
“Making a variety of agricultural crops available across borders is a major step forward for farmers and national agricultural systems,” Dr. Morell said. “The extension of this agreement to include other crops means signatory countries gain an added benefit from the high degree of cooperation that we have already achieved by working together on rice for so many years."