Thursday, September 25, 2014

IRRI conducts training on latest molecular breeding technologies for developing new rice varieties

By Jerome C. Barradas

IRRI Training is currently conducting a two-week molecular breeding course from 22 September to 3 October  at IRRI Headquarters, Philippines. The course covers the latest computer software used in molecular breeding and provides a holistic training on the latest molecular technologies that can be applied in developing high-yielding rice varieties that are not just resistant to various biotic and abiotic stresses but also has improved grain and nutritional quality.

This year’s course has 19 participants that include rice scientists and researchers from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam.

The molecular breeding course is coordinated by Dr. Joong Hyoun Chin and Ms. Mayee Reveche of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division. The course is facilitated by Ms. Angie Maghuyop of the Training Center.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PRISM holds review training on on-site crop health assessment and information gathering

The Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) project conducted a review training on crop health issues for 31 participants from eight Philippine Department of Agriculture Regional Field Offices on September 16-19 at IRRI Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.

The review training provided the participants with the knowledge and skills for conducting effective assessments of crop health problems caused by diseases, pests, and weeds using mobile devices in the field. They also talked to farmers to practice their interviewing skills necessary for gathering the information needed by PRISM such as fertilizer and pesticide usage.

PRISM, one of the projects under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) in the Philippines is supported by the DA, is a project of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), sarmap and IRRI. It aims to establish and institutionalize a nationwide information system that will provide timely and accurate data on when rice is cultivated and harvested in each province. Such information can be used in research and development as well as policy and decision-making related to rice production and food security. It also serves as a platform to develop consistent and regular assessments of rice crop production, crop health, and crop losses due to flood, drought, wind damage, pest outbreaks, and severe disease epidemics.

Dr. Adam Sparks, co-project leader of the PRISM project (IRRI), together with Mr. Gertrudo Arida (PhilRice) facilitated the event.

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New blood needed in rice science, IRRI urges ASEAN

By Rona Niña Mae Rojas-Azucena

IRRI calls on ASEAN to build a new generation of rice scientists and extension professionals. According to V. Bruce J. Tolentino, deputy director general for communication and partnerships, these efforts will help ensure secure and stable rice supplies across ASEAN and the world. The proposal calling for more support for science education and extension was presented during a series of high-level meetings with the ministers and senior officials of the ASEAN Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) on 20-26 September in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

Monday, September 22, 2014

IRRI holds communication seminars on effectively reaching target audience

IRRI conducted two communication seminars on effectively reaching target audiences featuring the Development Communication Team from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Singapore-based Potato Productions on 11 and 12 September, respectively.

Karen Barroga, head of the PhilRice DevComm team, discussed the importance of communication research and how their development communication initiative helped Philrice effectively target their audience. “Communication research is a practice that helps communicators in understanding the dynamics among stakeholders of research,” Dr. Barroga said.

Potato Productions, headed by Jonan Loh, presented their strategy for reaching and engaging their target audience in Singapore using traditional print media and augmented reality. Augmented reality creates interactive print by linking videos, slideshows and other visuals on top of everyday print materials.

Another highlight of the seminar series was an inspirational talk given by Potato Productions' Emily Teng. Ms Teng (in photo) is also the founder of Blessings in a Bag, a non-profit organization in Singapore that delivers “blessings” to disadvantaged kids and poor rural communities in Southeast Asia.

"I've learned that the best way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people who are far more inspiring than me, who are heaps smarter, who have incredible stories to share and who are doing crazier things to shake up the world," she said about their group’s visit to IRRI. “We have been surrounded by scientists all day and it's incredible how their work is creating change in things we easily take for granted."

The IRRI Communications Seminar Series is an invitation-based forum where communication experts share their experience in their field.

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IRRI water science expert joins the Young Researchers' Lunch

The Young Researchers' Lunch hosted Elizabeth Humphreys, head of the Water Science Group, on 18 September. Dr. Humphreys has extensive experience working on crop and water management in South Asia.

During the discussion on the different aspects of water management, Dr. Humphreys emphasized that not all water-saving strategies actually result in more water being made available for other uses.

Dr. Humphrey, who is also soon retiring, also offered the young researchers some words of wisdom based on her experience working at IRRI. "Enjoy what you do," she said. "It's all about the people."

Participants at the event were Jayanta Bhattacharya, Nibir Kumar Saha, Julie Ann Basconcillo, Jianyuan Yang, and Tahir Hussain Awan.

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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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Philippine farmers and IRRI scientists discuss ecological engineering at open day

By Finbarr Horgan

Fifty seven farmers and 15 agricultural extension officers from Victoria, Pila, and Nacarlan in Laguna, Philippines joined scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to discuss ecological engineering at the IRRI open day on 3 September.  The farmers shared their ideas on rice farming techniques, pest management, and bund agriculture during sessions held at their respective municipal halls before travelling to IRRI for an introduction to the concepts and practices of ecological engineering.

At IRRI’s experimental station, the farmers visited one of two experimental ecological engineering sites where they held open discussions with entomologists and ecologists concerning environmentally friendly pest management. The farmers were informed by scientists about crops suitable for growing on bunds, adaptations to the bunds for better crop production, and the best methods to avoid problems with insects, snails and rats.  The scientists also explained the advantages and problems they have experienced while applying ecological engineering for improved rice crop management. The participants also attended a presentation and a poster and live-insect exhibits.

At the end of the day, farmers evaluated what they had seen, expressing their wishes and concerns about ecological engineering as well as their willingness to become farmer-researchers by using the method on their own farms.

The event was a good opportunity for both farmers and scientists to share their experiences and build better collaboration. Three similar events, all aimed at better understanding ecological engineering, are scheduled for 2014.

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IRRI's MAGIC project wins best research paper award at SyenSaya 2014

The Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) named IRRI’s Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) Populations in Rice: Progress and Potential for Genetic Research and Breeding as the Philippine Agriculture and Resources Research Foundation, Inc. best research paper at the 7th SyenSaya on 10 – 12 September in Laguna, Philippines. The recognition was given to Nonoy Bandillo, Glenn Gregorio, R.K. Singh, Hei Leung, and Ed Redona, and their team during the awarding ceremony at the SEARCA Umali Auditorium in Los Baños.

Every year LBSCI celebrates the National Science and Technology week through SyanSaya, the Los Baños Science Festival that provides a venue for the community to appreciate and understand the role of science in everyday life.  The event also aims to promote Los Baños as a premiere science tourist destination. This year’s theme, Los Baños Science Community: Supporting the nation in meeting global challenges, featured basic science principles, appreciation, and application modules in food and agriculture, technology, development, and the environment.

More about MAGIC
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