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.

Green Super Rice varieties increase farmers’ income in the Philippines

Green Super Rice (GSR) farmers in the Philippines have an estimated income advantage of more than USD 231.00/ha. This advantage can reach up to USD 409.00/ha during the wet season, according to a study. With the dramatic climatic shifts, particularly in areas where rice production is dominant and extensive, the benefits that the GSR varieties could offer may be significant to secure more rice and alleviate poverty in the country.

GSR can produce high and stable yield with less water, fertilizers, and pesticides as these varieties were developed for tolerance to drought, floods, salinity, and other environmental stresses.  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations and the Chinese Government, IRRI through the GSR project released 55 varieties in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East and Southern Africa. At present, these varieties cover more than two million hectares in 11 countries. More than 5,000 GSR lines have been shared with partners for testing. This includes almost 100 new GSR lines nominated in national cooperative trials in Asia and Africa.

Public-private partnerships drive efforts toward food security

The complex situation of poverty and food security calls for more strategic research for development initiatives that is reinforced through public and private sector collaborations. Private companies are an important component of such partnerships. More importantly, public- private partnership creates synergy among different actors that enables taking technologies to farmers’ fields, so everyone can reap the best returns.

Director General Matthew Morrell emphasized that engaging with private sectors and partners is about sharing information, connectivity, and scaling impact. At the 2019 IRRI Science Week, scientists and staff gathered to discuss the challenges and key drivers in public-private partnerships that will help the institute widen its global impact. These include rice germplasm sharing, identification and characterization of agronomically important genes, improvement of geological information systems for rice, improved agronomic practices such as direct seeding and postharvest technologies and mechanization equipment, and lessons and insights in scaling rice research for impact.

IRRI, UN Environment engage private sector toward a low-carbon rice production

A workshop organized by IRRI and the UN Environment Programme highlighted the importance of involving the private sector in efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rice production.

“The role of the private sector in promoting the practice of mitigation technologies is pivotal because they have distinct interests in ensuring that farmers implement certain practices,” said  Bjoern Ole Sander, climate change scientist and IRRI representative to Vietnam. “Also, they are actively working in almost all stages of the value chain and that cannot be overlooked.”

Globally, the agriculture sector contributes 13.5% of the anthropogenic GHG emissions; 11% of which comes from irrigated rice in the form of methane and nitrous oxide. The figures may seem small but not so if we are looking at rice-producing countries where rice production contributes significantly to total national GHG emissions.

DSRC aims for more sustainable, environment-friendly rice systems

DSRC convened 24 partner members from across the globe to share experiences and learnings from China, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines; present DSR-adapted technologies like hybrid seeds, nutrient and weed management, micro-irrigation, drone systems, and mechanization; discuss the workplan for 2019 and strategies moving forward.

“The consortium in its first year has been very successful in bringing together various stakeholders from public and private sectors with expertise and experiences to tackle the complex challenges of DSR,” said Dr. Virender Kumar, IRRI scientist and DSRC coordinator. 


CORIGAP-PRO surpasses goal of reaching half a million farmers in Asian rice granaries

A year ahead of schedule, IRRI, through the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint Project (CORIGAP-PRO), and its partners from China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam,  have already surpassed its goal of reaching 500,000 smallholder farmers. 

“Our efforts on promoting best management practices in rice have reached more than 600,000 farmers with best practices for lowland intensive rice production across six Asian countries,” said Dr. Grant Singleton, project leader of CORIGAP –PRO. “About 118,000 farmers have adopted best practices and increased their rice yield by 11-20%, and profit by 15-25%.”

This development was confirmed during the CORIGAP-PRO’s Third Annual Review and Planning Meeting at the National Agricultural Information and Communication Center in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Young scientists from Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the Philippines also presented their research initiatives that have the potential to shape the future of rice-based systems.

Cambodia scales up rice straw management

From 2016 to 2018, the BMZ- funded IRRI project Scalable straw management options for improved livelihoods, sustainability, and low environmental footprint in rice-based production systems facilitated cross-country learning of best rice straw management practices in Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Based on empirical evidences gathered through fieldwork combined with life cycle assessments, the project devised a decision-making framework each country could find useful for their straw management efforts. This is still work in progress that hopefully the countries will find useful. 
“Through the project, we have learned important lessons from Vietnam and the Philippines, who are rapidly progressing in their sustainable rice straw management initiatives,” said Meas Pyseth, a postharvest expert on rice. “In Cambodia, we can see opportunities for mechanized straw collection and establishing business models from these, as well as enhancing the mushroom growing business for farmers.”

CGIAR research centers commit to food systems transformation in South and Southeast Asia

IRRI, WorldFish, and the International Water Management Institute signed a five-year agreement that provides a framework for cooperation on research for development (R4D) initiatives. The agreement focuses on the sustainable intensification and management of rice-fish production systems in irrigated landscapes and wetlands in South and Southeast Asia.

This partnership helps create better synergies for leveraging individual research expertise and network strengths to accelerate the sustainable supply of nutritious fish and rice into national, regional, and global food systems. Together, the three centers will also be able to better support regional cooperation by increasing awareness, disseminating knowledge, and scaling critical solutions for this intensification to be truly sustainable.

The agreement aligns with the CGIAR 2030 Plan which calls for transformations of its research programs to usher in a “food systems revolution” to tackle challenges related to sustainability, nutrition, genetics, socio-economics, and information and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through greater cooperation among its centers.

Advancing Bihar’s goals with better rice varieties

Government of Bihar’s Principal Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Shri N. Saravana Kumar visited the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) to better understand the research and development facility for producing better rice varieties and improving rice-based agri-food systems.

“I’m very impressed with the work being carried out at IRRI SARC,” the Secretary said. “Rice is the main staple in Bihar and also India. Going forward, we hope to build robust R&D and training collaboration, working closely with IRRI and IRRI SARC. If we can modernize cultivation of rice and rice-based agri food systems, I see a bright future for our farmer brothers and sisters.”

IRRI ISARC supports research collaboration on rice and rice-based agri-food systems, capacity building and training, and niche scientific services for institutions, scientists, and stakeholders working on enhancing agricultural productivity and profitability.