Wednesday, January 28, 2015

IRRI-GRiSP Asia Science Week spotlights the next generation of rice scientists



The Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) featured the research work and scientific insights of 18 promising scientists who are in the early stage of their career at the on-going IRRI-GRiSP Asia Science Week at IRRI Headquarters.

"Without a crop of vibrant, intelligent, dedicated, and caring young scientists, IRRI would not have a future," said Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI. "Armed with knowledge gained at IRRI, the unique experience they get here, and valuable professional relationships they foster, our current batch of young scientists, I believe, will continue this legacy of contributing to a better world through rice science."

Philippine diplomats briefed on IRRI’s climate-smart efforts


Officials from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) visited IRRI on 24 January 2015 to find out more about the Institute’s work, particularly about its climate-smart initiatives.

The group was briefed on how IRRI supports the country’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program. They were also given a glimpse of IRRI’s work in various countries in Asia and other regions of the world in which rice is grown, with emphasis on partnerships with national governments.

The 22 foreign service officers, led by Bernadette Fernandez, executive director of the DFA’s United Nations and International Organization (UNIO), were welcomed by Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general.

Dr. Zeigler also showed Ms. Fernandez a scale model of the Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility that will soon rise at the Institute’s research complex. A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility was held yesterday, with Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the food and agriculture committee of the Philippine Senate, and a representative of the Australian government, which funded construction of the structure through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Ms. Fernandez said that exposure to IRRI’s work, and to agriculture in general, would help round out foreign service officers’ experiences toward familiarizing themselves with the contexts of many of the groups of people they work with, and IRRI’s basic rice production courses might be a good start.

Mr. Val Roque, director of the DFA-UNIO, intimated that the DFA has a special interest on climate change because of negotiations for a universal agreement that is slated to happen in Paris later this year. The Philippines is going to take part in the said agreement and will have to come up with its own plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by June. "The goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius" to protect  the global food supply against the effects of climate change, said Mr. Roque.


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Myanmar: IRRI conducts training on climate and weather data analysis to understand crop response and suitability to different environments


The International Rice Research Institute in Myanmar (IRRI-Myanmar) conducted four-day hands-on training on weather data management, analysis, and interpretation at the IRRI Myanmar office, Yangon on 19-22 January.

Twenty seven participants from IRRI-Myanmar office, the  Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Yezin Agricultural University, Groupe de Recherches et d'Echanges (GRET), Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Mercy Corps, and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). The course offered state-of-the-art data analysis in modern climate sciences using different software, randomization and trial layouts, data interpretation, routine maintenance of the IRRI-installed weather station at DAR-Yezin, downloading weather data, and creating graphs from weather data. The participants used their own research data in the exercises and were asked to give a short demonstration on their output using the PB tools software and Excel statistical packages.

The training was conducted by resource persons from IRRI namely Dr. R K Singh, senior scientist, Ms. Justine Bonifacio, data manager, Dr. Romeo Labios, scientist, and Dr. Madonna Casimero, senior scientist.

The training was funded by the Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund, a multi-donor fund established to help eradicate poverty and hunger in Myanmar by increasing food availability and incomes.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Philippines: Scholars celebrate unity in diversity of cultures at IRRI


The Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees and Resident Committee (AFSTRI) presented the beauty of the different cultural backgrounds of its members during the AFSTRI Cultural Night at Chandler Hall, IRRI Headquarters on 16 January.

One Night, One World, One AFSTRI, the event’s theme , featured cultural performances from the United States of America, Bangladesh, China, Ukraine, Vietnam, Tunisia, the Philippines, India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

In addition to the cultural performances, AFSTRI also held an auction to raise funds for the new IRRI AFSTRI Alumni scholarship (IAAS). Six board members put themselves up for auction and listed a variety of four to five tasks, skills, or items they were willing to do share or teach to be put up for auction. The winning bidder being able to select the one activity or item they were most interested in.  By the end of the program, they were able to raise a total of P29,300 – an amount almost enough for one undergraduate scholarship.



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Monday, January 26, 2015

Philippines: IRRI Training Center conducts workshop on effective scientific presentation


The Training Center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) conducted an Effective Presentation Skills workshop designed to develop the skills of researchers, scholars, and scientists to become effective presenters of information on 22 January at IRRI Headquarters.

The workshop was attended by Xiaojia Yin and Melannie Manguiat from the C4 Rice Center; Lauro Atienza from the Training Center; Maria Krishna De Guzman from the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center; Abigail Domingo and Mark Jeffrey Morete from the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division; and Geraldine Ann Malitic and Erwin Tandayu from the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division.

A major part of the activity was the evaluation of the participants’ presentations by Maria Socorro Arboleda, who coordinated and facilitated the workshop.

The Training Center offers the Effective Presentation Skills workshop several times every year. Future workshop dates for 2015 are 28 April, 18 July, 8 September, and 3 December.

Interested applicants may visit http://training.irri.org.

For other training opportunities, please visit: http://training.irri.org/short-courses/2015-list-of-short-courses


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Philippines: Departing IRRI Experiment Station head leaves behind outstanding accomplishments and a roaring memento


Leigh Vial, outgoing head of the Experiment Station (ES) at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), delivered his exit seminar on ES achievements and challenges on 15 January at the Havener Auditorium, IRRI Headquarters.

Dr. Vial joined IRRI in 2011 to lead a team of ES staff. He oversaw field operations (machinery), field maintenance (agronomy), irrigation, bioenvironment and administrative groups. This includes the day-to-day operations, but also a number of projects to improve both the infrastructure and the processes at the Experiment Station to match 21st century requirements. He also spearheaded IRRI Agronomy Challenge, a unique activity where scientists and researcher experience firsthand how to grow rice crop from seed to harvest.

“Leigh has brought energy and creativity to ES,” said IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler. “It was all about how can we make things more efficient, how can we improve the processes, how can we make the quality of life of our workers better.”

Following his exit seminar, Dr. Vial donated a 1962 Honda Super Cub as the family’s gift to IRRI.  “This motorcycle will stay at IRRI,” he said. “Sue, I and the boys will always have an attachment to IRRI as a result. The bike was featured in the article The Next Green Revolution in October 2014's edition of the National Geographic magazine.

The Honda Super Cub was widely used by Vietnamese farmers when the IR8 rice variety-a milestone of the Green Revolution-was released in 1966. With their higher income from IR8 Vietnamese farmers were able to purchase Honda (which means “bountiful rice fields”) bikes. Honda’s  advertising campaign for its motorcycles was "You meet the nicest people on a Honda” and it was certainly true of Dr. Vial and his family. Read more about Honda Rice in Rice Today magazine.


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Philippines: DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project holds training on preserving the heirloom rice varieties of North Cotabato


The Heirloom Rice Project held a training activity on the systematic collection, inventory, and cataloguing of existing heirloom rice varieties in North Cotabato at the office of the Department of Agriculture-Central Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-CEMIARC) in Kidapawan, North Cotabato on 14-15 January. This is part of the project’s effort to enhance the skills of trainees and farmer-beneficiaries in identifying useful traits that will help them better understand the characteristics of heirloom rice cultivated in the municipalities of Alamada and Banisilan such as Dinorado, Kasagpi, Azucena, Hinumay, and Awot.

Mr. Renato ReaƱo, and Ms. Pauline Capistrano, senior associate scientist and researcher,respectively, at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), trained 25 participants from Alamada, Banisilan, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and DA-CEMIARC. The training course aimed to improve the participants’ skills in variety characterization and purification to add value to on-farm genetic resources that are actively used. The participants also received a lecture on the production, maintenance, and use of good-quality seeds. These skills could help maintain the purity of heirloom rice varieties on-farm, especially those intended for the local and international market, ensuring uniformity and consistency of plants and seeds.  In addition, they were taught to prepare and manage worksheets to standardize characteristic traits needed for a community registry, which is submitted to the Plant Variety Protection Office under the Bureau of Plant Industry, giving farmers control over and access to seeds and propagating materials in accordance with the Plant Variety Protection Act. The genetically purified varieties can also be analyzed for breeding, grain-quality, and market-preference studies.

Dr. Amalia J. Datukan, regional executive director of the DA-Regional Field Office in Region XII, encouraged the participants to apply the skills they would glean from the training. Dr. Neil Doton, an offical from DA-Region XII also encouraged the participants and trainers alike and commended the project’s efforts in the region. Dr. Nollie Vera Cruz, project leader of the DA-IRRI Heirloom Rice Project, also stressed the importance of the identification and characterization of heirloom rice varieties, which is one of the project’s major components.


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