Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bangladesh, India and Nepal sign historic agreement in the evaluation of rice varieties

T.C. Dhoundiyal & U.S. Singh


The Secretaries of Agriculture of the Governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal signed a protocol on cooperation in the evaluation data of rice varieties released in their respective countries for release and commercialization. The agreement was made during the Regional Cooperation on Seed Issues workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal on 18 October 2014.

The protocol on regional cooperation, which applies to rice varieties developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and public sector organizations in the three countries, was hailed as historically significant by the agriculture executives.

“I firmly believe that signing of this agreement usher new era of collaboration and cooperation and will help in improving the livelihood of the poor farmers in the entire region,” said Dr. M. Nazul Islam, agriculture secretary of Bangladesh.

Nepal’s Department of Agriculture Secretary Jaya Mukund Khanal said “We have opportunities and options to improve the livelihood of poor farmers in the region. This cooperation will provide platform to share the good practices of one country to other and time has come to materialize that in real sense to benefit our clients, the farmers. The exchange of technologies and quality seed can help attain higher rice productivity in the region.”

Ashish Bahuguna, India’s agriculture secretary, stressed that while the agreement presently covers only rice, it can be extended to other crops later on. “This cooperation is not limited to seed sector, this will lead to agriculture development in the region,” Mr. Bahuguna said. “There is need to broaden this cooperation and replicate it to other part of the world. SAARC can play vital role in bringing in more countries to the platform.”

The agriculture officials also greatly appreciated the role played by IRRI in getting this agreement materialized in such a short period of time. “We should complement IRRI for bringing up with new ideas and platform to share the ideas and evolve the measure to concretise these ideas,” said Mr. Buhuguna.

The signing this agreement in South Asia has shown the way for regional cooperation, according to Robert Zeigler, IRRI’s director general.

 “This is a historic moment and truly a highest honor to our partnership in the region,” said Dr. Zeigler. “Scientific revolution has been taken place in rice research. The seed sector should adapt these technologies and have a seed system in place. We need to establish production system to make available quality seed, marketing mechanism to reach the farmers and develop better management of our technologies to realise the benefits of new technologies to the farmers.”

Farmers’ participation is equally important in value generation and developing new traits to accelerate the adoption of new technologies. The seed system should be responsive to new technologies to deliver the quality product to the farmers, Dr. Zeigler added.

Other officials at the event also welcomed the cooperative effort in the region.

“The regional cooperation in seed sector is milestone in achieving the food security and mitigating the climate change affect in the region,” said Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, executive director of Nepal Agricultural Research Council. “This agreement will go a long way to fast track varietal release and dissemination to meet the growing demand of the quality seed and enhancing the livelihood of the resource poor farmers.”

“It is essential to work towards reducing the time for the varietal evaluation and release and seed multiplication and out scaling to reach farmers in shortest possible time,” Uma Shankar Singh, South Asia Regional Project Coordinator (STRASA), said. “This could be achieved only through regional cooperation. The agreement will prove to be a milestone in this direction. It will also help in more efficient use of resources to take the scientific innovations to farmers by sharing the data and seed exchange.”

“In the past, we accrued the benefits of successful collaboration with IRRI thru STRASA project that helped develop rice varieties which can sustain submergence, salinity and drought and offered solution to threats posed by climate change,” said Dr. Jiwan Krishna Biswas, director general, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute. “The cooperation in seed sector will strengthen this partnership.”

In his remarks S.K. Datta, deputy director general (Crop Sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said “We need to harmonize most of the positive aspects and approaches in practice of all the three countries to benefit the farmers of the region in the shortest time.”

IRRI is playing vital catalytic role in crop improvement, bringing global sciences, scientific guidance and accelerating the process. Emphasis should be given to implementation of those sciences and policy decisions effectively and reduces the time in identifying the varieties and utilizing them across the borders, Dr. Datta added.

Regional Cooperation on Seed Issues was jointly organized by the Ministry of Agricultural Development of Nepal and IRRI and attended by about 45 delegates from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, IRRI, and international organizations based in Nepal.

Mr. Dharam Datta Baral, chief of Seed Quality Control Centre, Ministry of Agricultural Development, Nepal delivered the welcome address. Mr. Birendra Bahadur Hamal, deputy director general of Nepal’s Department of Agriculture gave the closing remarks.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IRRI conducts training on best practices and latest technologies in rice production

By Jerome C. Barradas


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Training Center is conducting the Basics of Rice Production Course from 21 to 23 October at IRRI Headquarters, Los BaƱos, Laguna. The three-day course provides an overview and updated best practices and latest technologies, from seed preparation to post-harvest practices, in wetland rice farming.

In addition to classroom lectures on rice breeding, physiology, water management, pests, and diseases, the course features experiential learning where participants “get their feet wet” through actual on-field farm operations.

There are 19 participants from Australia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the United States. Most of them are IRRI HQ-based staff who would like to learn rice production through hands-on activities.

The course is coordinated by Noel Magor, head of the Training Center, and Eugene C. Castro, Jr., senior research manager and course facilitator.

Basics of Rice Production Course is offered twice a year. This is the second offering for 2014.  For inquiries about this course and more training opportunities, please visit http://training.irri.org/ or send us an email at IRRITraining@irri.org.


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IRRI, STRASA and PAU hold workshop on major rice pests and diseases in Southeast Asia



STRASA (Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, India held a two-day review and planning workshop on major rice pests and diseases in Southeast Asia at Punjab Agricultural University on 15-16 September. Twenty cooperators (13 from India , 3 from IRRI, 3 from Bangladesh. and 1 from Nepal)  involved in the Biotic stress program of STRASA participated in the workshop.

Among the resource speakers and topics discussed at the workshop are:

  • Dr. Karanjeet Thind, head of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, PAU, emphasized the importance of biotic stresses in development of stress tolerant rice.
  • Dr. Casiana Vera Cruz, IRRI plant pathologist presented an overview of major rice diseases in South Asia and anticipated impact of global climate change on rice diseases. She also noted the importance of resistance breeding in sustainable management of plant diseases, which may take several approaches, with incorporation of biotic stress resistance being included as a major breeding objective.
  • Dr. Mukund Variar, principal scientist and officer-in-charge, Central Rainfed Rice Research Station Hazaribag, India presented population structure of blast pathogen in eastern India and pointed out that modern HYVs like Swarna harbor many pathogen lineages compared to traditional varieties. He reported that the combination of Pi-9 and Pita2 was most effective against all the pathotypes.
  • Dr. Bo Zhou, IRRI plant pathologist, reported the Avr gene-based tool for virulence diagnosis of rice blast pathogen useful for prediction of the putative durability of resistance gene(s). He also stressed the importance of searching  for new blast resistance genes/alleles from wild rice accessions. He reported that 6 Pik alleles from different accessions of O. glaberrima and 20 new Pi-2/Pi-9 alleles from O. rufipogon, O minuta and O. sativa have been identified.
  • Dr. M. S. Prasad, principal scientist, Plant Pathology, Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), Hyderabad, India explained the importance of AICRIP (All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Program) system for multi-location evaluation of breeding materials at different hotspot locations against blast disease. He also stressed on the increased incidence of false smut of rice in India.
  • Dr. S. S. Gosal, Director of Research, PAU mentioned that the intensity of diseases like bakanae, false smut and neck blast and insect pests like leaf folder have increased significantly due to changes in climatic conditions and changed cultivation practices.
  • Dr. P. P. Singh, head, Plant Pathology, PAU, emphasized the importance of careful classification of races of pathogens based on their reactions on differentials.
  • Dr. Arora, entomologist, PAU, reported that brown plant hopper (BPH) has become a major problem in Punjab and developed resistance against neo-nicotinoids.
  • Dr. R. K. Gumber,PAU, mentioned that the increase in area under basmati rice production has resulted in higher incidences of bakanae.
  • Dr. G. S. Laha, principal scientist, plant pathology, DRR, presented the distribution of bacterial blight of rice in India and explained characterization of pathogen under glasshouse condition. He mentioned that some strains of the pathogen in India can attack individually xa13 and Xa21 BB resistance genes.
  • Dr. P. S. Pannu, Dr. Mustafa Kamal, and Dr. Bedanand Chaudhury presented  current rice disease scenarios in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, respectively.
  • Dr. J. S. Lore, senior plant pathologist, PAU, explained the characterization of Xoo strains in Punjab. He mentioned that pathotype 7, virulent on Xa4, xa5, Xa7 and moderately virulent on Xa21, was most predominant in Punjab and pathotype 8 can attack IRBB55 (xa13 + Xa21).
  • Dr. P. S. Sarao, senior entomologist, PAU, explained seed box screening methodology against BPH under glass house condition. He also presented the use of SSR markers in characterizing BPH population.
  • Professor Kuldeep Singh, molecular biologist and director, Agricultural Biotechnology, PAU, gave a talk on the identification and utilization of new bacterial blight resistance genes from wild relatives of rice. He mentioned that a new BB resistance gene Xa38 has been identified and mapped from Oryza nivara which provides broad spectrum resistance against most of the pathotypes in Punjab. He also reported new BB resistance genes from accessions of Oryza glaberrima, O. barthi and and O. rufipogon.

Dr. J. S. Lore and Dr. Jyoti Jain made a practical demonstration on collection of BB infected samples from field, isolation of Xoo from infected leaves and its maintenance at the crop museum of PAU, BPH screening facility and rice biotechnology laboratory.

  • Professor Kuldeep Singh explained different field experiments in Rice Biotechnology.
  • Dr. G. S. Mangat, principal rice breeder, explained different rice breeding experiments .
  • Dr. Gulsan Mahajan, senior rice agronomist explained rice agronomy experiments.
  • Dr. J. S. Lore. Dr. D. S. Brar, hon. professor, PAU, Ludhiana and former IRRI plant breeder, demonstrated different bacterial blight experiments and pathotyping of Xoo strains.


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Philippines: Rizal farmers introduced to environment-friendly pest management at DA-BAR/IRRI Open Field Day

By Finbarr Horgan


More than 60 farmers from Tanay and Pililla in Rizal Province, together with 10 officers from the Department of Agriculture (DA), visited the Rizal Agricultural Station (RAS) at Cuyumbay to discuss Ecological Engineering for Pest Management at the Open Day coordinated by International Rice Research Institute entomologists and RAS staff on 14 October.

A presentation at the RAS auditorium introduced the farmers to ecological engineering and informed about how they might initiate similar practices. Farmers were then informed about the management of insects, golden apple snails, rodents and birds through ecological engineering methods at the RAS field site.

The participants were welcomed by Mr. Billy Fortun, station manager, RAS, and Dr. Alexandra Jamoralin, DA-Regional Field Office 4A-Calabarzon. The event and related research activities were funded by the German Ministry of Science and Education as part of the LEGATO Project, the DA–Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), and the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).


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Myanmar: IRRI and partners conduct quality rice seed production


The Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research (DAR), Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation conducted a hands-on training on quality rice seed production to improve the capacity of farmers, extension workers from both government and implementing partners, and seed producing agencies to produce quality rice seed that may ultimately increase the country’s rice productivity at Myaungmya Research Farm, Yezin from 29 September to 2 October.

The training was attended by 32 progressive farmers of LIFT A, LIFT B, ACIAR, and USAID projects with IRRI from Bogale, Mawlamyinegyun, Labutta, and Maubin townships; 13 staffs from local institutional partners (WHH, GRET, MercyCorps, Proximity Design, Radanar Ayar); and 3 Department of Agriculture (DOA) staffs. U Myint Aye, DOA district officer and U Htain Linn Tun, Myaungmya Research Farm Manager closed the session and distributed the certificates to all the participants.

The training was primarily aimed for sustainability of IRRI project in the delta region by enabling progressive farmers for seed purification and production for self-sufficiency to marketing through home-scale to community seed bank approach which plays a vital role in subsistence agriculture.

The hands-on training on quality rice seed production was based on principle of “learning by doing” and focused more on practical activities in the rice fields with only one classroom session on rice plant morphology, growth stages of rice, nursery bed establishment, crop management, quality seed production and quality control, and postharvest postharvest handling from seed drying to storage methods, and developing knowledge dissemination and action plans for quality seed production.

Practical demonstrations covered identification of distinct morphological characters of rice plant, seed purity and germination test, dry and wet bed preparation, transplanting, fertilizer calculations, panicle selection, panicle to row sowing, transplanting, rouging at different growth stages, and seed drying and storage.

The inaugural session was chaired by Dr. Romeo Labios, IRRI Scientist in Myanmar with Dr. Khin Maung Thet, IRRI-USAID scientist; and local officers from Department of Agriculture (DOA). U Myint Aye, district officer, and U Tin Myaung Nyein, township staff officer of Myaungmya area, provided the support and collaborated with IRRI in Myanmar.

The training was sponsored by LIFT-A project and Dr. Ye Tun Tun. IRRI-LIFT A team members (Dr. Swe Zin Myint Thein, May Nwe Soe, Sandar Winn, Aye Aye Thant, Aung Myat Thu, and Palal Moet Moet) coordinated and served as resource persons. Dr. R.K Singh, IRRI senior scientist, facilitated the event.


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

IRRI and partners hold training on modern rice seed production

T.C. Dhoundiyal and Manzoor Hussain Dar


The International Rice Research Institute, in collaboration with Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the Directorate of Seed Research (DSR), and the National Seed Research and Technology Centre (NSRTC), organized an international hands-on training on quality rice seed production at BHU, Varanasi, India, on 6-10 October.

The aim of the training was to improve the skills of researchers and trainers in quality seed production and discuss seed production problems encountered by farmers, researchers, and pertinent agencies. The training included a series of lectures by eminent scientists and experts on varied topics on seed production, quality control, new innovations in seed research, post-harvest technologies, and storage.

Thirty participants from 10 South and Southeast Asian countries attended the training. Participants were exposed to a two-day rigorous hands-on field to nursery bed preparation, seed cleaning, field preparation, transplanting, rouging, among others. Rakesh Kumar Singh, senior scientist at IRRI and training coordinator, and Dr. P.K. Singh, professor, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, BHU demonstrated panicle selection, emasculation, tagging and bagging.

Participants also visited the seed processing unit of the university and apprised about seed processing techniques. The team visited the demonstration field and various laboratories at DSR for an overview of new seed management research and technologies.

Despite the use of modern production technologies it is still a great challenge to bridge the yield gap as average yield lies much below the attainable yield of rice varieties in the region. The seed being the basic input in agriculture, good quality seed alone can increase grain yield by 5-20%. In view of the importance of quality seed in enhancing rice productivity.

“It is important to ensure the purity of seed and availability of quality seed to cater the growing demand and increase the rice production,” said Prof. Ravi Pratap Singh, director of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences at BHU, during his opening remarks. “Optimization of water management technologies is also important to harness the potentials of high yielding rice varieties.”

Dr. Umesh S. Singh, IRRI senior scientist and STRASA South Asia Regional Project coordinator applauded the contribution of BHU in rice research and thanked the University for providing valuable support to the training. “It is important to tone and rebind, time and again the mechanism of quality seed production,” said Dr. U.S. Singh.

Mukesh Gautam, managing director, Uttar Pradesh Seed Development Corporation, distributed certificates to the participants at the end of the training. He also shared his insights on quality seed production and processing. “Production and productivity of rice increased considerably over the last 2-3 years in Uttar Pradesh with higher seed replacement rate,” Dr. Gautam. “The STRASA model is fine example of adoption of new technologies that increased rice yield in very short time.”

The training was concluded with vote of thanks by Dr. Manzoor Hussain Dar, senior associate acientist at IRRI.

Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Dr. S. Rajendra Prasad, director, DSR; Dr. R.K. Trivedi, director, NSRTC, Varanasi, and deputy commissioner for Quality Control, Ministry of Agriculture; and Dr. A. Vaishmapayan, dean of the College of Agriculture, BHU.

The training on quality rice seed production was supported by STRASA, CURE, GRiSP, IRRI, BHU, and Trukai Industries Ltd, Papua New Guinea.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RMQA and Merck hold special seminar on good laboratory practices




Merck Philippines, through the IRRI Risk Management and Quality Assurance (RMQA) unit, held a seminar to further enhance good laboratory practices (GLP) at the International Institute of Rice Research on 10 October at D.L. Umali.

The seminar focused on water systems including purity levels, water contaminants, and using the right type of water for specific needs to ensure the quality of laboratory assays and experiments. It also covered the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), the international standard for labeling and classifying chemicals initiated by the United Nation to minimize the risks of handling chemicals in the laboratory and during transport. The lecture on GHS emphasized the meanings of the important symbols indicated on chemical containers. The seminar also tackled laboratory waste management and guidelines on proper disposal and recycling of chemical wastes, and ways to mitigate damages and risks in the event of chemical spills.

A total of 63 IRRI scientists, researchers, scholars, technicians, trainees, and secretaries from Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology, C4 Rice Center, Seed Health Unit, International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice, Crop and Environmental Science Division, Grain Quality and Nutrition Center, Safety Security Services, and RMQA attended the seminar.


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