Tuesday, March 3, 2015

IRRI Training hosts Nagoya University students' field work on agriculture

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center hosted a scientific visit of  graduate students of Nagoya University in Japan on 26 February at Swaminathan Hall, IRRI Headquarters. Seven participants represented the university’s Graduate Schools of Bioagricultural Sciences, Health Sciences, International Development, Medicine, and Education.

The participants received a briefing on the different activities of the Training Center and an overview of the basics of rice production. They also visited the experimental fields where different IRRI rice varieties were developed.

The scientific visit at IRRI is part of the students’ field work on agriculture planned in coordination with the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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IRRI-NARO holds symposium on development and deployment of resistant rice varieties

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Japanese National Agricultural Food Research Organization (NARO) held a symposium to forge collaboration between the two parties toward the development and deployment of pest- and disease-resistant rice varieties at IRRI Headquarters on 25 February.

Members of the NARO contingent presented their work on resistance to brown planthoppers (Masaya Matsumura) and resistance to leaf and panicle blast (Tomomori Kataoka and Hiroyuki Sato). Sachiyo Sanada-Morimura and Hiroshi Wada presented insecticide resistance in small brown planthopper, and the physiological mechanisms leading to chalky rice under drought conditions.

IRRI scientists gave updates on their ongoing research at IRRI, including rice resistance to planthoppers (Finbarr Horgan), the role of endophytes in resistance to insects (Buyung Hadi), resistance to blast and bacterial blight (Ricardo Oliva), and tungro resistance (Il-Ryong Choi).

The event was also an opportunity for students and interns at IRRI to present the results of their research. Entomologists Rina Racmawati, Suja Thanga Srinivasan, Mahardika Gama, Vu Quynh, and James Villegas presented topics ranging from the role of bacterial endosymbionts in the breakdown of planthopper resistance, to the use of soil amendments to increase resistance against hoppers and stemborers. Plant pathologists Jaymee Encabo, Eula Oreiro, and Sylvestre Dossa presented the mechanisms of rice resistance to tungro virus, screening for sheath blight, and the efficacy of bacterial blight resistance genes under conditions of drought, respectively.

The participants discussed the worrisome trend of pest and disease adaptation to resistance genes during round table talks, and devised mechanisms to improve collaboration and research toward understanding and curtailing this adaptation. An agenda for building parallel research on common interests was also highlighted at the symposium.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Riceworld Museum celebrates National Arts Month with iconic symbol of bountiful harvest

In celebration of the National Arts Month in the Philippines, the Riceworld Museum is featuring a special exhibit called Kiping in touch by Filipino artist Erick Dator at Asia Room, Chandler Hall, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Headquarters from 25 February through 13 March.

Mr. Dator hails from Lucban Quezon, the home of the very popular and colorful Pahiyas Festival. Pahiyas is a traditional celebration of the townsfolk, held every May 15, in honor of San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. The visual centerpiece of Pahiyas is the kiping—a brilliantly colored, leaf-shaped wafer made out of rice flour used to adorn houses during the festival—that has become a cultural icon. Inspired by the iconic symbol of thanksgiving, the artist created delightful images over a tapestry of meticulously prepared kiping celebrating the folk flavor and spectacle of the Philippines.  Mr. Dator’s other notable achievements include solo art exhibits in New York and other US cities. The artist has also exhibited his works in Germany, UK, Netherlands, and Austria. After travelling for more than 10 years, he returned to Lucban to share his Pahiyas-inspired rice art with the public.

"Rice is art and, at IRRI, we celebrate the various contributions of rice to society. We are honored to host Erick Dator's art at IRRI's Riceworld Museum, and to give the IRRI and Los Baños communities an opportunity to appreciate his unique style that draws inspiration from the Pahiyas festival from his hometown of Lucban, Quezon. We invite everyone to come and see Kiping in touch," says IRRI's Director of External Relations Corinta Guerta. Ms. Guerta, Head of Communication Tony Lambino, and Riceworld Museum Curator Paul Hilario, and Erik Dator opened the exhibit on 24 February 2015.


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Myanmar: IRRI provides expertise to extension training on postharvest management

The Central Agricultural Research and Training Center of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) conducted a Postharvest Management Training for extension workers in Hlegu, Yangon on 9-11 February. Daw Aye Aye Mar, deputy director and head of Postharvest and Weed Management of the Plant Protection Department, organized the event for 33 trainees from the Plant Protection Department, Extension Department of the DOA, local and international NGOs, and selected companies. Martin Gummert, a postharvest specialist at the International Rice Research Institute, provided the hands-on training and lectures.

Myanma farmers experience significant postharvest losses, especially in areas with rice-pulse cropping systems. The training was conducted to increase the participants’ awareness of new postharvest technologies and help them train farmers on good management practices and use of suitable technologies, reduce postharvest losses, and increase the quality of rice and profit.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Myanmar: Learning Alliance trains more farmers on rice quality and marketing

The Postharvest Learning Alliance (LA) conducted a second joint meeting to train on 31 farmer-participants rice quality and marketing in Yangon on 13-14 February.

The farmers visited the Wardan wholesale market to gain more awareness on the importance of rice quality and facilitate stronger linkages between farmers and traders at wholesale markets. They also visited the Hmawbi Seed Farm to observe seed production techniques.  The meeting also facilitated sharing of rice varieties and production practices for quality and marketing among farmers from Shwebo, Maubin, and Bogale. Shwebo is particularly known in Myanmar for its high-quality Paw San rice.

After the event, the participating farmers made plans to use the seed selection techniques they learned at the seed farm. They will also pool about 20 tons of rice and sell it to a new trader in Yangon they met through the meeting.

“The end goal of these efforts is for rice farmers to get high profits by meeting the quality standards required by the market,” said Martin Gummert, postharvest expert at IRRI. “In order to do this, farmers should choose varieties with traits that the market requires, and improve postharvest practices to prevent quality deterioration of their grains after harvest.”

Myo Aung Kyaw, IRRI consultant and a member of the millers and traders’ association , facilitated the educational visit and will continue linking farmers with traders who are willing to pay premium price for high-quality rice.

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Myanmar: Learning Alliance conducts participatory workshop on user-friendly communication materials

The Postharvest Learning Alliance (LA) conducted the Message Design Workshop for developing communication materials on the use of flat-bed dryers in Bogale Township on 11-12 February. The flat-bed dryer was introduced by IRRI in 2013, in partnership with the Professionals for Fair Development and Welthungerhilfe. The event was organized to reach and inform more stakeholders about the benefits of using a dryer and attended by key LA members including farmers, millers, and traders.

Participatory message design workshops have been used by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in developing information to create locally relevant and suitable materials for the target audience with the help of specialists, communicators, and artists. Through facilitated group exercises, the participants were able to 1) identify their target audiences, 2) define communication objectives, 3) develop key messages about the flat-bed dryer, and 4) develop materials for their targeted groups. The participants in Bogale developed 1 poster, 2 flyers, and 1 leaflet for farmers, millers, and traders. They also pre-tested the materials, and planned for extension activities.

The workshop was conducted through the Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) and the Closing the Rice Yield Gap with Reduced Environmental Footprint projects (CORIGAP).

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Philippines: Deputy head of PBGB specializing in salt stress tolerance in rice joins the February Young Researchers Lunch

The Young Researchers' Lunch hosted Glenn Gregorio, the outgoing deputy head of IRRI's Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division. Dr. Gregorio is a plant breeder who has specialized in salinity stress tolerance in rice at IRRI. He is noted for his excellent knowledge of rice as well as his flair for witty rice breeding slogans.

Dr. Gregorio shared his perspective on career planning and how IRRI has changed over the years. He encouraged the young researchers to take advantage of all the training courses and other opportunities at the Institute, and develop their own identities as researchers. He left the group with his personal mantra "Know what you want and love what you want."

Participants were Renee Lorica, Marjorie de Ocampo, Myrish A. Pacleb, Terry Velasco,  Mark Jeffrey Morete, and Anny Ruth Pame. 

The Young Researchers Lunch is a monthly meeting for NRS and AFSTRI scientists who are in the early stages of their career. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for discussions with senior scientists on a range of topics including science and career paths.

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