Friday, November 27, 2015

Trainees learn the basics of scientific writing and rice production

The IRRI Training Center, in collaboration with Project IPaD, conducted the Basic Scientific Writing Course (BSWC) on 16-20 November and the Basics of Rice Production Course (BRPC) on 25-27 November 2015 at the IRRI headquarters.

The BSWC is a five-day course intended to help scientists and researchers develop their skills in written communication, making them more effective in sharing knowledge and research results in the future. The course was attended by 17 scientists and researchers from IRRI, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños. The BSWC was facilitated by Ms. Teresita Rola and Ms. Majilene Marikit and coordinated by Ms. Maria Socorro Arboleda.

On the other hand, the BRPC is a three-day orientation on the whole process of rice production, from seed processing to postharvest management. The course is designed to update participants’ knowledge and skills on best practices and technologies associated in rice farming. This course gives participants a chance to get their feet wet in the mud, providing hands-on experience of actual field preparations. The course was attended by 25 young researchers from different Department of Agriculture offices throughout the Philippines. They were all supported by Project IPaD. The course was coordinated and facilitated by Engr. Eugene Castro, Jr., (see photo below) with Ms. Majilene Marikit as co-facilitator.

Project IPaD (Improving Technology Promotion and Delivery Project) is jointly led by PhilRice, the DA-Agricultural Training Institute, and IRRI. It aims to improve rice technology promotion and delivery by enhancing the capability of the next generation of extension professionals and other knowledge intermediaries. Project IPaD supported 12 participants for the BSWC and 25 participants for the BRPC.

Rice production, writing, and communication skills courses are scheduled to be offered again in 2016 at the IRRI Training Center.

For training dates and other information, please visit 

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

IRRI joins celebration of the National Biotechnology Week

Participants of the 7th National Biotechnology Education Center for Teachers (NBECT) coming from Metro Manila and nearby provinces visited IRRI as part of the National Biotechnology Week celebrations. Golden Rice network coordinator Violeta Villegas welcomed the group.

About 70 high school teachers attended the three symposia presented by BIOTECH-UPLB’s program leader Mannix Pedro, National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB)’s Assistant Professor Ma. Anita Bautista, and Museum of Natural History Director Juan Carlos Gonzales. Coinciding with this event, the National Biotechnology Quiz Contest was held at BIOTECH-UPLB with about 50 high school students participating.

The Philippines, through Presidential Proclamation No. 1414, celebrates the National Biotechnology Week (NBW) every year during the last week of November, in support of promoting the safe and responsible use of biotechnology and its products. This year’s celebration is led by DOST with the theme Bioteknolohiya: Kaagapay ng Mamamayan sa Pambansang Kaunlaran.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on the social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Over 500 farmers in Odisha attend field day on flood-tolerant Swarna-Sub1

Around 500 farmers, mostly women, attended the Field day on flood-tolerant Swarna-Sub1, seed production, mechanical transplanting, and direct-seeded rice in Resinga Village, Puri District in Odisha on 20 November.

During the field day, IRRI scientists from the Cereal System Initiatives for South Asia (CSISA) project and the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project, experts from India’s Department of Agriculture, and the Association of Seed Certification Office in the country shared various technologies and knowledge with the farmers.

The field day also featured a question and answer (Q and A) session between IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler and the farmers. The topics discussed during the Q and A included adoption of flood-tolerant Swarna-Sub1, improved farm practices, climate change, grain quality, and facilities for farmers to get the minimum support price. Some solutions to problems such as crop insurance, credit facilities, laser land levelling, use of hybrid rice, use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, most preferable crop after rice were also examined.

Zeigler cited the important role of farmers in Odisha in attaining global food security. “Once eastern India becomes food secure, it is possible to achieve food security worldwide,” he said. “Odisha farmers will be known internationally for being one of the first farmers who beat the odds of growing rice in harsh environments—areas that are prone to flood, drought, and even salinity.”

In the near future, IRRI would come up with a rice variety that can tolerate both flood and drought to solve problems brought by unpredictability of weather patterns because of climate change, Zeigler added. The Institute will also be part of “bringing the Green Revolution in eastern India,” which is both a goal and a policy in the country, in the same way IRRI contributed to the Green Revolution in India.

The field day was organized by CSISA team of the IRRI hub Odisha in collaboration with India’s Department of Agriculture.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Odisha farmers benefit from flood-tolerant rice and improved farm practices

Swarna-Sub1, a flood-tolerant rice variety, and conservation agriculture-based technologies, such as mechanical rice transplanters,  are helping farmers in Odisha solve problems caused by flooding and labor shortage. This is the gist of the feedback from farmers as they shared their experiences in adopting these improved technologies during the visit of IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler, scientists from the IRRI-India Office, and senior officials from Nepal to Puri District in Odisha, India on 20 November.

According to the farmers, Swarna-Sub1 allowed them to harvest more than 5 tons per hectare even under the adverse weather conditions of the current cropping season. They also emphasized the critical role of service providers of mechanical rice transplanters. These machines help farmers plant rice on time and reduce the cost of rice cultivation.

Many farmers using Swarna-Sub1 are keen on continuing the use of this variety. In fact, the demand for seeds of Swarna-Sub1 is high while the supply is limited. The farmers were so happy with the performance of the crop and the results of improved rice production technologies that they requested IRRI to expand its intervention to other districts in India.

These technologies reached the farmers in Odisha through the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project and the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project.

The projects made strategic efforts to demonstrate stress-tolerant rice varieties and associated technology options in Puri District so the farmers could observe the results themselves.

The mechanical rice transplanter is one of the conservation agriculture-based technologies under CSISA. Other technologies include direct-seeded rice (DSR) and laser land leveling. On the other hand, STRASA also develops and distributes drought- and salinity-tolerant rice varieties in addition to flood-tolerant rice.

During the visit, Zeigler and the farmers discussed labor displacement because of mechanization as well as alternative arrangements. Crop sharing, weed management, nutrient management, irrigation facilities, subsidies, business modules, and marketing of quality produce were among other topics raised by the farmers.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

National Academy of Agricultural Sciences names IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler as fellow

IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler was inducted into the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) in India. He received the award from Dr. S. Ayyappan, the president of the Academy, who is also an IRRI Board of Trustees member, on 23 November 2015 in New Delhi.

Dr. Zeigler earlier received the Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding global research leadership in the application of advanced techniques of molecular biology and biotechnology in crop improvement and for harnessing its benefits for smallholder farmers across the world. He started his service as NAAS fellow on 1 January 2015. 

NAAS was established in India by agricultural scientists both within the country and abroad 25 years ago. The fellows of the academy are recognized for their contributions to science and are distinguished personalities in the field of agriculture and allied sciences that include World Food Laureates, Fellows of Royal Society, Third World Academy of Sciences, among others. The academy aims to provide a forum for agricultural scientists to deliberate on important issues in agricultural research, education, and extension; and to present views of the scientific community as policy inputs to planners and decision-makers at both national and international levels.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

APEC director discusses mechanization hub plan with rice experts

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines – On November 20, in the middle of APEC 2015, Mr. Shigetoshi Aoyama, director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), took time to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters two hours south of Manila to learn about a proposal that seeks to speed up mechanization of rice farming in Asia.

Migration of rural laborers from farm to urban centers has created labor scarcity that is affecting agricultural production in many Asian countries, including Japan. Millions of smallholder farmers across Asia do not have the means to pay the high wages of workers to carry out labor-intensive farming activities. In India alone, labor shortage affects the farm operations of about 600 million smallholders.

Labor scarcity is an increasingly widespread problem that IRRI is trying to solve through mechanization, said Bruce Tolentino, deputy director general for communication and partnerships at IRRI.

Engr. Martin Gummert, senior scientist at IRRI’s Postharvest Unit, presented to Mr. Aoyama a proposal for a mechanization hub in which IRRI will be the center of a network that will facilitate transfer of mechanization technology and build capacity on the use of such technologies in target countries. The network will bring together countries such as Japan, China, and the US; the private sector; donor and funding agencies; and major rice-producing countries.


Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Next-Gen conducts year-end assessment and planning workshop

The Department of Agriculture’s National Rice Program (DA-NRP) project on Accelerating the Development and Adoption of Next-Generation Rice Varieties for the Major Ecosystems in the Philippines (Next-Gen Project) held its year-end assessment and planning workshop on 16-20 November 2015 in Dauis, Bohol. Participants included representatives from DA-NRP, IRRI, PhilRice, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and the DA Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs).

The collaborative project, led by Dr. Georgina Vergara (IRRI) and Ms. Thelma Padolina (PhilRice), is an initiative under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), PhilRice, and IRRI, in partnership with UPLB, the DA-RFOs, state colleges and universities, local government units (LGUs), and rice farmers. The project aims to mitigate the impact of climate change and achieve food security by fast-tracking the introduction and adoption of higher-yielding inbred and hybrid rice varieties resistant to major pests and diseases and tolerant of adverse environments.

During the 3-day workshop, DA-RFO representatives presented their accomplishments in 2015, as well as their physical targets and budget for the 2016 and 2017 activities. Issues and recommended strategies to address those were also discussed. The participants also visited PVS (participatory varietal selection) and NCT (national cooperative testing) sites in Ubay, Bohol. The lively interaction among participants resulted in a successful workshop where they shared ideas and strategies helpful in the improvement and conduct of different Next-Gen activities, which ultimately impact farmers’ productivity as they adapt to the effects of climate change.

Overall, the workshop strengthened collaboration between the partner institutions, which would help facilitate the development of improved varieties and increase rice productivity, helping farmers adapt to the effects of climate change.

Learn more about IRRI ( or follow us on social media and networks (all links down the right column).