Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 36


In 04
www.irri.org Ye ter d
ar na ec
of tio lar
Ri na ed
ce l
International Rice Research Institute April 2003, Vol. 2 No. 1

Beijing puts rice on the

table: 1,000 attend first
International Rice Congress

Organized free for all:
Rice Knowledge Bank
materials are online

Biodiversity adds value:
interplanting dresses
Chinese fields in pinstripes

ISSN 1655-5422
5,000 liters
Growing one kilogram of rice with traditional irrigation
consumes enough freshwater to fill 25 oil drums.
2003 is International
Year of Freshwater

Using less water, farmers could save on irrigation, boost their earnings,
and leave more water for homes, businesses and nature conservation.
Rice scientists are exploring how.

Farming that feeds families

and protects the environment

Rice Science for a Better W rld

contents Vol. 2, No. 1

The International Fund for Agricultural
Development focuses on the neediest
2004 declared International Year of Rice
Insect ecologist wins Charles A. Black
Award as his project team earns
Vietnamese honor


Rice genes go public as International Rice
Genome Sequencing Project completes draft
USAID-IRRI conference studies agriculture
and food security in Asia and the Near East
IRRI support team wins CGIAR Excellence
in Science Award
IRRI and Japan’s National Institute of
Agrobiological Sciences open new chapter
in gene discovery
As rice genebank clocks a quarter century,
a new funding effort takes the long view

Beijing puts rice on the table, as first
MANILA MAKES CGIAR International Rice Congress draws
HISTORY more than 1,000 delegates
Consultative Group on International Asian ministers at international
Agricultural Research holds annual roundtable call rice essential to
general meeting in Philippines stability and prosperity

Now able to feed its people with
improved harvests from The new Rice Knowledge
lowland rice fields, Laos is Bank lays the benefits
focusing attention on making of more than four decades
upland agriculture more of research at your
productive and sustainable fingertips


Emile Frison is director general designate
of the International Plant Genetic
The practice of interplanting
high-value but disease-
susceptible traditional rice
Resources Institute varieties with disease-
M.S. Swaminathan, former director general resistant hybrids is dressing
of IRRI, heads Pugwash Movement the rice lands of southwest
China in pinstripes

31 NEW BOOKS IRRI adds seven new titles

to its inventory of
meetings and
Fight poverty
where it lives
Biotech won’t soon replace
“conventional” breeding
publications on rice workshops

Cover photo Seepana Appa Rao International Rice Research Institute

DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines
Web (IRRI): www.irri.org; Web (Library): http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org;
Editor Peter Fredenburg
Web (Riceweb): www.riceweb.org; Web (Rice Knowledge Bank):
Art director Juan Lazaro IV
Contributing editors Duncan Macintosh, Gene Hettel, Bill Hardy
Designer and production supervisor George Reyes Rice Today editorial
Photo editor Ariel Javellana telephone (63-2) 845-0563 or (63-2) 844-3351 to 53, ext 2401;
Printer Primex Printers, Inc. fax: (63-2) 891-1292 or (63-2) 845-0606; email: p.fredenburg@cgiar.org

Rice Today is published by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the world’s results of agricultural research to rural communities, farmers and families in Africa, Latin
leading international rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines and with America and Asia.
offices in 11 other countries, IRRI is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on Responsibility for this publication rests with IRRI. Designations used in this publication
improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, should not be construed as expressing IRRI policy or opinion on the legal status of any
particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of country, territory, city or area, or its authorities, or the delimitation of its frontiers or
16 Future Harvest centers funded by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural boundaries.
Research (CGIAR), an association of public and private donor agencies. Rice Today welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. Potential contributors
For more information, visit the websites of the CGIAR (www.cgiar.org) or Future are encouraged to query first, rather than submit unsolicited materials. Rice Today
Harvest (www.futureharvest.org). Future Harvest is a nonprofit organization that builds assumes no responsibility for loss or damage to unsolicited submissions, which should
awareness and supports food and environmental research for a world with less poverty, be accompanied by sufficient return postage.
a healthier human family, well-nourished children and a better environment. Future
Harvest supports research, promotes partnerships and sponsors projects that bring the Copyright International Rice Research Institute 2003

Focusing on the neediest

by Rodney Cooke

he International Fund for Development should be established and $35.4 million in grants (including three
Agricultural Development (IFAD) immediately to finance agricultural projects fully financed by grants in Rwanda,
has added another chapter to its development projects primarily for food the West Bank and Gaza). Governments and
two-decade record of cooperation with IRRI production in the developing countries.” other financing sources in the recipient
to fulfill its mission of “enabling the rural One insight to emerge from the conference countries – including project beneficiaries –
poor to overcome their poverty.” Last was that food insecurity and famine were have contributed $7.9 billion. External co-
December, the specialized agency of the caused not so much by failures in global financiers have provided $6.6 billion in co-
United Nations approved US$1.5 million for food production as by structural problems financing, of which bilateral donors
“Accelerating technology adoption to arising from poverty and, in particular, the contributed $1.1 billion, multilateral donors
improve rural livelihoods in the rainfed concentration of the developing world’s $5.2 billion, and various international and
Eastern Gangetic Plains,” or nearly half of poor populations in rural areas. Northern NGOs $40.2 million. Sources of
the three-year project’s total budget of $3.5 co-financing for the remaining $260 million
million. Specific mandate remain to be confirmed. These projects have
IFAD began supporting IRRI research IFAD has a specific mandate to mobilize aimed to assist 49 million rural poor
in the mid-1980s with a focus on improving resources on concessional terms to alleviate households, or approximately 263 million
farmers’ ability to achieve reliable rice rural poverty and hunger in developing people.
harvests in agriculturally less-favored areas countries. This means fostering social The fund’s current annual commitment
affected by drought, problem soils, crop development, gender equity, income of about $450 million derives from
disease, insect pests and weeds. In 2001, generation, improved nutrition, members’ contributions (46%), reflows from
IFAD upgraded its involvement with IRRI’s environmental sustainability and good past loans (49%) and investment income
parent organization, the Consultative Group governance, thereby enabling the rural poor (5%).
on International Agricultural Research, to overcome poverty on their own terms. IFAD’s Governing Council,
from member status to cosponsor. Concretely, the strategy translates into representing all 162 member states, elects
Established in Rome in 1977, IFAD is a developing and strengthening the the fund’s chief executive for a four-year
key outcome of the 1974 World Food organizations of the poor to confront the term, which is renewable for a second term.
Conference in response to the food crises of issues they define as critical; increasing The current president, Lennart Båge of
the early 1970s, mostly in the Sahelian access to knowledge so that poor people can Sweden, was elected in February 2001. The
countries of Africa. The conference resolved grasp opportunities and overcome obstacles; president also serves as chairperson of the
that “an International Fund for expanding the influence that the poor exert Executive Board, whose 18 members and 18
Agricultural over public policy and institutions; and alternate members oversee the fund’s
enhancing their bargaining power in the operations, particularly the approval of
marketplace. loans and grants.
All of IFAD’s strategic choices – in
regional, country and thematic strategies; Participatory programs
loan and grant activities; involvement in IFAD recognizes that poverty in the Asia-
poverty reduction strategy papers; policy Pacific region is especially persistent in
dialogue; and the selection of development agriculturally less-favored areas, many of
partners – reflect these principles. IFAD’s whose indigenous people suffer exploitation
target groups are the poorest of the poor, and human rights violations. Within a
including small farmers, the rural landless, development strategy that emphasizes
nomadic pastoralists, coastal fisherfolk, decentralized, participatory programs
indigenous people and, across all groups, promoting regenerative agriculture and
poor rural women. security of land tenure for farmers, IFAD
Since its establishment, IFAD aims to enhance the capability of indigenous
has financed 628 projects in 115 people to tackle political and economic
countries and independent marginalization, reward them for
territories, to which it has environmental services, and generate social
committed $7.7 billion in loans peace and security through development. As
women are especially prone to poverty,
IFAD strives to help them enhance their
capability by tackling discrimination,
ensuring equal access to resources and

Dr. Cooke is director of

the Technical Advisory promoting women’s representation in
Division of IFAD. village institutions.

4 Rice Today April 2003

IRRI insect ecologist wins Charles A. Black Award
as his collaborative team earns Vietnamese honor United Nations declares 2004
International Year of Rice
T he Council for Agricultural Science and Development in 1996, and he was the co-
Technology (CAST), an international recipient of the Partnering Excellence Medal
consortium of 37 scientific and professional 2002 from Australia (see below). A cting on a proposal
from the Philippine
societies based in Washington, D.C., in Nearly a decade ago, the IRRI-led team government, the
January named IRRI insect ecologist K.L. found that a large proportion of farmers’ United Nations
Heong the recipient of the 2003 Charles A. insecticide spraying is unnecessary, General Assembly
Black Award. CAST annually honors an especially early in the cropping cycle. Most voted in December to
agricultural, environmental or food scientist’s of it targets the rice leaffolder, whose early declare 2004 the
outstanding contribution to the advancement infestations have no effect on yields. The International Year of Rice (IYR). In its
of science in the public-policy arena. team distilled the complex scientific details announcement, the UN noted that rice
Dr. Heong and three of his partners in into a simple rule of thumb – “No early is the staple food of more than half of the
a project that encourages farmers to reduce insecticide spray” – and used popular world’s population. It also affirmed the
their use of insecticides had earlier received media, including short radio dramas, need to heighten international
the Golden Rice Award from Nguyen Van leaflets and posters, to reach farmers. awareness of the role rice can play in
Dang, Vietnamese vice minister of Following the media campaign in the alleviating poverty and malnutrition and
agriculture. Dr. Heong’s co-recipients in Mekong Delta, average insecticide use fell ensuring food security.
Cantho City on 6 December were Nguyen in the test area by 53%, from 3.4 to 1.6 The UN Food and Agriculture
Huu Huan, vice director general of sprays per season, and has remained low for Organization and its International Rice
Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department; Vo eight years. The team has run a similar Commission have been invited to
Mai, former vice director general of the campaign in Thailand and will soon launch facilitate the implementation of the IYR
department; and Monina M. Escalada, a another, partly supported by the St. in collaboration with the governments of
professor in the Philippines’ Visayas State Andrews Prize money, in Quang Ninh the world’s rice-producing nations, the
College of Agriculture, now seconded to Province in the Red River Delta. United Nations Development Pro-
IRRI. The project team also won the gramme, the Consultative Group on
prestigious 2002 St. Andrews Prize for International Agricultural Research (of
Environment (see Rice Today Vol. 1, No. 2, which IRRI is a member), other organ-
page 5). izations of the UN system, and NGOs.
Primary consideration for the Charles A. As Rice Today goes to press, no
Black Award goes to scientists who are actively definite plans yet exist, but most rice-
engaged in research and who have demon- producing nations will likely organize
strated excellence in communicating the special events and activities. IRRI has
importance of their scientific achievements to confirmed that, to mark the IYR, it will
policymakers, news organize its next International Rice
media and the public. Research Conference in the second half
Previous recipients of of 2004, probably in Vietnam.
the award include “The decision by the UN to declare
Calvin Qualset (2002), 2004 the International Year of Rice is
chairman of the prog- significant not only for the world’s rice-
ram committee of producing nations but also for all the
the IRRI Board of estimated 2.6 billion people who consume
Trustees, and Per rice each day,” said IRRI Director General
Pinstrup-Anderson Ronald Cantrell. “IRRI is looking forward
(1998), former direc- to actively participating in many
tor general of the important IYR events.”
International Food Dr. Heong and a Vietnamese “No early insecticide spray” poster.
Policy Research
Institute. Dr. Heong was scheduled to receive IRRI shares Australian Partnering Excellence Medal 2002
the award during the CAST banquet on 20
March in Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Dr. Heong’s research areas include A ustralia’s Commonwealth Scientific and management of rodent pests in Australia and
Industrial Research Organization Asia, through building quality partnerships.
insect ecology, pesticide toxicology, (CSIRO), represented by Grant Singleton, Dr. Singleton received it in Parliament House
biological control, the sociology of farmer and the Rodent Ecology Work Group at IRRI, in Canberra on 10 December.
decision-making and communication. After led by K.L. Heong of IRRI and John Copland The joint research has produced a
joining IRRI in 1988, he developed, in of the Australian Centre for International chemical-free rodent management system,
collaboration with national scientists in Asia, Agricultural Research (ACIAR), are co- called the community trap barrier system,
participatory communication strategies to recipients of Australia’s Partnering that can reduce rat damage by 20%. It is
use mass media to motivate farmers to stop Excellence Medal 2002. The medal being adopted in several provinces in the
spraying insecticides early in the cropping recognizes excellence in providing Mekong and Red River deltas of Vietnam,
cycle. The Vietnamese government honored international leadership, scientific expertise in a project funded by the Australian Agency
him with the Medal for Agricultural and training in the ecologically based continued on page 7

Rice Today April 2003 5


Support team wins Excellence in Science Award in Science Awards. This makes two years in a row that a Filipino
support team at IRRI has won the CGIAR Outstanding Scientific

A n IRRI research support team won the world’s most prestigious

award for a scientific support team in publicly funded
agricultural research. The project – which has operated mainly in
Support Team Award, which in 2001 went to the institute’s hybrid
rice breeding team. It is also the second year running that the CGIAR
has cited the biodiversity project, whose paper “Genetic diversity
China but is now expanding into other countries – is called and disease control in rice” in the journal Nature won the 2001
Exploiting Biodiversity for Sustainable Pest Management (see page CGIAR Outstanding Scientific Article Award.
26). It allows farmers to boost their income while controlling a major The photo shows (from left) project leader Tom Mew and
rice disease with fewer applications of polluting chemicals. support team members Alice Bordeos, Mel Revilla, Vivay Salazar,
The team received the award during the annual general meeting Nancy Castilla, Santy Culala, Abe Ona, Manny Lantin, Mayette
in Manila last October of the Consultative Group on International Baraoidan, Florencio Balenson, Max Banasihan, Flavio Maghirang
Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which each year presents Excellence and Nollie Vera Cruz.

Briefly Briefly Briefly

Working CURE name of Africa Rice Center, reports having down from the editorial board after more
Thirty scientists from South and Southeast recovered from the genebank on the than three years and were replaced by Abdel
Asia attended the Consortium for WARDA campus more than 6,000 rice seed Ismail and Renee Lafitte. J.K. Ladha
Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) samples, representing over 80% of the total continues as IRRN editor-in-chief.
workshop on 24-25 January at the National collection.
Agricultural Science Center in Pusa, New First field test of GM rice
Delhi. Organized by R.K. Singh, IRRI liaison Drought economics workshop The first field evaluation by the Philippine
scientist for India, the workshop aimed to A workshop in Bangkok on 5-6 November Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and IRRI
identify technologies to help “cure” studied the economic cost of drought and of transgenic rice variety IR72 with the Xa21
unfavorable environments, select farmers’ coping mechanisms. The project, gene has shown good agronomic
appropriate research sites and collaborating organized by IRRI’s Social Sciences Division performance at the PhilRice station in
institutions, and prioritize research areas. and supported by a special grant from the Muñoz. IRRI developed the materials in
Unfavorable environments are rainfed areas Rockefeller Foundation, employs cross- 1998-99 and found that, under screenhouse
that suffer water scarcity or flooding. Most country comparative analysis of three major conditions, they showed excellent
of CURE’s six working groups, which are rice-producing countries in Asia: China, protection against all races of bacterial
based on the major rainfed subecosystems, India and Thailand. blight in Asia.
have held planning meetings. Deputy
Director General for Research Ren Wang led Philippine honor for IRRI Platform for saving water
a group of IRRI scientists attending the The Pilipinas Shell Foundation last Participants in the international workshop
October meeting of the working group on November recognized IRRI’s contribution Water-Wise Rice Production at IRRI in
shifting and rotational systems in Luang to the empowerment of disadvantaged April 2002 have created the International
Prabang, Laos. farmers. The foundation cited the institute’s Platform for Saving Water in Rice
development of salt-tolerant and tungro- (IPSWAR) to coordinate the efforts of
Moving in Africa resistant rice lines and the contribution they agricultural researchers who are developing
After months of civil war in its home base have made to the livelihood of farmers who water-saving technologies for rice pro-
of Côte d’Ivoire, the CGIAR’s West Africa struggle against these production duction. For more information, visit www.
Rice Development Association (WARDA) is constraints. irri.org/irrc/water/ipswar.asp or email
continuing its management operations in B.A.M. Bouman at b.bouman@cgiar.org.
that country but temporarily relocating its Research publication changes
scientists to Bamako, Mali, where the International Rice Research Notes (IRRN), New head for flood-prone rice
International Crops Research Institute for IRRI’s biannual research journal, installed Mahabub Hossain is IRRI’s new
the Semi-Arid Tropics, a CGIAR sister Tess Rola as its new managing editor in coordinator for improving flood-prone rice
center, operates a research station. January, replacing Katherine Lopez. production in South Asia. This project,
WARDA, which recently took the additional Shaobing Peng and Bas Bouman stepped funded by the United Nations’ International

6 Rice Today April 2003

continued from page 5 USAID and IRRI cosponsor
for International Development. The food security conference
innovative system uses a plastic fence placed
around the rice crop, which serves as bait,
and cage traps placed at openings in the
enclosure. Farmers who use this system
T he United States Agency for
International Development
(USAID) and IRRI cosponsored a
need not handle dangerous rat poison or workshop on agriculture and food
electricity. Another advantage is that rats security in Asia and the Near East in

are caught alive and can be cooked by Manila and Los Baños on 28
farmers or sold commercially. September-5 October. The workshop
allowed more than 70 USAID
agriculture, environment and food-aid
officers across Asia and the Near East Genetic Resources Center Head Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton
to hear from leading experts in fields describes IRRI’s conservation efforts during the workshop.
ranging from agricultural research to
trade competitiveness. Discussions scale Asian farmers break out of their
promoted the further development and terrible poverty trap,” he said. “Simul-
implementation of a new Asia/Near East taneously, they must provide cheap rice to
strategy for USAID. millions of even poorer rural rice consumers
As the luncheon speaker on the as a fuel for spurring job creation in a

opening day in Manila, IRRI Director dynamic, diversified rural sector.”

General Ronald Cantrell told participants Workshop participants spent an entire
Members of the rodent management team in Australia
(left to right): Dave Spratt, Lyn Hinds, Charles Krebs, that the next Green Revolution will need the day at IRRI’s research campus in Los Baños
Grant Singleton (holding plaque), Peter Brown, John driving force of new technologies provided to continue their discussions and to hear
Copland, Katrina Leslie, Dean Jones, Roger Pech, Jens by research. “The new technologies must presentations from IRRI scientists in
Jacob and Steve Morton. have the capacity to help millions of small- laboratories and the field.

Briefly Briefly Briefly

Fund for Agricultural Development, international network for wild rice management, held in October 2002 at the
involves Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, coordinated by IRRI. Multiple Cropping Center of Chiang Mai
Vietnam and Thailand. University, attracted 24 participants from
New variety in Vietnam Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia,
Conference on wild rice The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Bhutan, Bangladesh, Australia, Japan,
IRRI Genetic Resources Center Head Rural Development approved in August rice France and Germany.
Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton delivered the variety AS996, developed in part through
keynote address last October at the first- IRRI research, for release as a national IRRI-Japan office closes
ever International Conference on Wild Rice, variety adapted to the acid sulfate soils that The end of January saw the retirement of
hosted by the Green Energy Mission in affect up to 100,000 ha of the Mekong Delta Hiroyuki Hibino as IRRI liaison scientist in
Kathmandu, Nepal. Dr. Sackville Hamilton region and elsewhere. Japan and the closure of the IRRI-Japan
accepted on IRRI’s behalf a felicitation from office in Tsukuba. For now, IRRI’s chief
Badri Prasad Mandal, deputy prime Analytic training in Thailand contacts in Japan are the two Japanese
minister of Nepal and the minister for A two-week training course on multi-agent members of its Board of Trustees, Keijiro
agriculture and cooperatives. Discussions systems and geographic information Otsuka and Shigemi Akita. The refocusing
explored the possibility of establishing an systems for integrated watershed of the IRRI-Japan relationship emphasizes
close research collaboration (see page 9),
mobilization of new resource opportunities
and heightened public awareness.

Rice technology transfer

The first-ever training workshop on rice
technology-transfer systems in Asia brought
19 participants from 10 Asian countries to
the South Korean Rural Development
Administration for two weeks in September
and October 2002. Participants studied
worldwide trends in the rice industry,

models of rice technology-transfer systems,

communication strategies and project
management. They also observed advanced
To make women more effective agents of change in agriculture, the IRRI Training Center conducted in November rice-farming practices during visits
2002 the first Leadership Course for Asian Women in Agricultural Research and Development. Attending were 20 to demonstration villages and progressive
participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Thailand. rice farmers.

Rice Today April 2003 7


Rice genes go public

n international consortium set up to sequenced, the rice genome provides
determine the genome, or genetic data for improving other grains, such
makeup, of rice announced the as maize and wheat, whose larger
completion of a high-quality draft sequence gene sequences are collinear with
of the genome on 18 December 2002. The that of rice.
Japanese-led International Rice Genome “Decoding the rice genome is an
Sequencing Project (IRGSP) effectively important scientific achievement that
completed the sequencing of 430 million can lead to improved nutrition and
bases of the rice genome, setting the stage aid in efforts to eliminate hunger
for the accelerated development of new rice throughout the world,” said U.S.
varieties to help ensure food security and Agriculture Secretary Ann M.
improve farmers’ livelihoods. Veneman at an event on the same day
IRGSP participants include publicly in Washington, D.C.
funded research institutions in Japan, the “The rice genome’s sequence is
United States, China, Taiwan (China), South crucial to our scientific understanding
Korea, India, Thailand, France, the United of the staples of life,” added Rita R.
Kingdom and Brazil. With the help of three Colwell, director of the National
less-detailed genome-sequence drafts Science Foundation in the U.S.
assembled over the past two years by Greatly facilitating the rice
private-sector researchers, the IRGSP genome sequencing effort were Rice earned two cover stories in prestigious scientific
managed to complete its definitive draft – contributions from private com- journals last year: the 5 April edition of Science (see Rice Today,
described by IRRI Director General Ronald panies. In 2000, Monsanto indepen- Vol. 1, No. 2, page 9) and the 21 November issue of Nature, in
Cantrell as “the gold standard for all future dently produced a draft sequence of which two papers detail the complete sequences of two rice
investigations of genetic variation in crops” the rice genome and made its clones chromosomes. One research group sequenced chromosome 1
and calculated that it contains 6,756 genes; the draft version
– six years ahead of the initial target. available to the IRGSP. Early last
released earlier this year predicted only 4,467 genes. A
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro year, the Swiss agrochemical second group produced a finished sequence of chromosome 4,
Koizumi congratulated the collaborators company Syngenta provided to the reporting that 52% of the genes were not completely
during the announcement event in Tokyo. IRGSP a draft sequence of the predicted by the draft sequence.
“The publicly available, high-quality draft japonica rice subspecies. At about the
sequence of the rice genome is expected to same time, the Beijing Genomics Institute project. Eventually participants decided to
trigger rapid progress in determining the in China produced a similar draft of the keep going, as they were confident that their
function of genes in cereals,” he said. “I am indica subspecies. Japonica rice is typically data were usefully more accurate than the
convinced that genome research will make grown in temperate regions, while indica earlier drafts – 99.99% accurate. The
far-reaching contributions to solving the varieties are grown in the tropics. sequence data for the entire rice genome are
constraints in sustainable food production These achievements spurred discus- now in the public domain, deposited in public
and environmental problems.” sions over whether the international databases such as GenBank, EMBL and DDBJ
As the first major cereal crop to be consortium should continue the genome for free access to all scientists worldwide.

IRGSP participants
Japan: Rice Genome Research Program (a
As rice genebank clocks a quarter century,
collaboration of the National Institute of

he International Rice Genebank at legal agreement that they will not attempt
Agrobiological Sciences and the Institute IRRI marked its 25th anniversary to seek intellectual property protection on
of the Society for Techno-innovation of on 12 December last year. The that material.”
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). United world’s most comprehensive storehouse of Since the mid-1980s, the GRC has
States: The Institute for Genomic Research, rice biodiversity holds in trust more than distributed 250,000 seed samples. It has
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Clemson 108,000 samples of cultivated and wild rice also restored varieties to their native place
University, Washington University in St. seeds donated by more than 100 countries. following their loss due to war (Cambodia
Louis, University of Arizona, Rutgers The purpose of the genebank – which now and East Timor), natural catastrophes
University, University of Wisconsin. China: looks forward to receiving assured, long- (Philippines) or other causes (see sidebar
National Center for Gene Research of the term support from a new funding plan – is on page 28). “We hope to do the same for
Chinese Academy of Sciences. Taiwan to conserve the biodiversity of rice and make Afghanistan,” Dr. Sackville Hamilton adds.
(China): Academia Sinica Plant Genome seeds available to plant breeders and other “Rebuilding the country’s infrastructure
Center. France: Genoscope. South Korea: scientists around the globe. should include restoring Afghan biodiversity
Korea Rice Genome Research Program. “We protect traditional varieties so they as well as introducing improved varieties.”
India: Indian Initiative for Rice Genome can be used to help poor rice farmers,” The seeds are preserved in refrigerated,
Sequencing. Thailand: National Center for explains Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, head fire- and earthquake-resistant facilities on
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. of IRRI’s Genetic Resources Center (GRC), IRRI’s research campus in the Philippines.
Brazil: Brazilian Rice Genome Initiative. which runs the genebank. “We distribute Supplies for immediate exchange are kept at
United Kingdom: John Innes Center. seeds to any nation, provided they sign a 2–4 ⋅C in vacuum-sealed aluminum cans or

8 Rice Today April 2003

Partnership opens new chapter in gene discovery
Ronald Cantrell and NIAS President Masaki been able to reach this agreement so
Iwabuchi. It sets the terms for a five-year quickly.”
IRRI-NIAS collaboration designed, in the NIAS and IRRI scientists will
words of the agreement, “to apply genomics implement the agreement through
science and technologies to discover genes collaborative work plans updated annually
of agronomic interest, especially those or as mutually agreed. Mutual agreement
involved in stress tolerance, and to build and the public interest will govern joint
human resources that will enhance publication of collaborative research results.
international partnerships in agricultural NIAS and IRRI will exchange breeding
research and development in the developing materials, germplasm, clones, DNA
world.” samples, software and datasets subject to
The signing came the day after the the execution of material transfer
official announcement – simultaneously agreements and adherence to biosafety
made in Tokyo and Washington, D.C. – that regulations, and with due recognition made
the International Rice Genome Sequencing to the original sources of the materials.
Project (IRGSP) had completed a highly The two institutes also agreed that “all
accurate sequencing of the rice genome. outcomes of NIAS-IRRI joint research
NIAS has led the IRGSP consortium and activities, including all intellectual property

played a major role in the project. rights, shall be jointly owned by both
Ronald Cantrell (left) and Masaki Iwabuchi. The new IRRI-NIAS agreement parties.”

advances the two institutes’ shared vision
RRI entered into a landmark research “to make new tools and knowledge derived
and capacity-building agreement last
month with Japan’s National Institute
of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), paving
from rice genomics research accessible to
help solve rice production problems.” To
this end, it will combine the expertise of
Art of rice
the way for the next stage of discovery NIAS as a world leader in rice genomics
revealing the genetic makeup of rice. The
partnership promises to unlock the secrets
research, IRRI’s long experience in rice
biology and breeding, and the vast store of
D ating back to at least 3000 BCE – with the
first known depiction of the rice plant on a
ceramic cup in China – rice has been a rich
of functionality in the recently sequenced genetic resources held in trust in the source of artistic inspiration in Asia for over five
genome of the world’s main food grain, International Rice Genebank at IRRI. millennia. On 5 October 2003, the UCLA Fowler
determining which genes strengthen plants “There is no doubt in my mind that Museum of Cultural History will open a major
against drought, problem soils, diseases and combining our resources to focus on this exhibition in Los Angeles, California, exploring
pests – and to do so for the benefit of poor important strategic area of rice science will the significance of rice in Asian societies as
rice farmers and consumers. bring dividends in the near future,” said Dr. seen through the visual arts. The Art of Rice:
The memorandum of agreement came Cantrell. “The agreement between NIAS Spirit and Sustenance in Asia will feature objects
into force on 19 December 2002 when it was and IRRI represents a first step in that joint ranging from ancient ceramics,
gilded screens, masterful
signed in Tokyo by IRRI Director General endeavor. I am very pleased that we have
sculptures and rare
textiles to
a new funding effort takes the long view contemporary
paintings and
popular religious
heat-sealed aluminum-foil packets. Long-term International Rice Genebank continues to depictions, such as
storage is in a vault chilled to minus 20 ⋅C. operate according to accepted standards. the wood carvings of
Conserving biodiversity is a long-term The same cannot be said for all genebanks. the Philippine Ifugao
proposition dependent, paradoxically, on “The problem is that these storehouses rice god, or bulul
year-to-year funding. The Global Conser- of diversity are being allowed to depreciate,” (pictured). The
writes Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of exhibition, which
vation Trust – a partnership combining the
will run until
United Nations Food and Agriculture Science, in an op-ed supporting the trust.
April 2004, brings
Organization and IRRI’s parent organization, “Serious underfunding prevents adequate
together the
the Consultative Group on International curation. In many banks, living seeds are research and
Agricultural Research – aims to provide a waiting to be duplicated while the cooling creativity of an
package of technical assistance and systems that protect them break down international group
permanent financial backing for the world’s because there is no money to repair them.” of more than 20
crop-diversity collections. The trust is Dr. Kennedy’s op-ed is posted at www. curators, anthro-
working to raise a minimum of $260 million washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/ pologists and artists.
from corporations, foundations and A3920-2003Jan2.html. To learn more For details as the

about Global Conservation Trust, visit opening approaches,

governments to establish an endowment, the
visit www.fmch.
interest from which will provide permanent www.startwithaseed.org. For more on the
support for genebanks around the world. International Rice Genebank, visit www.
Despite recent funding cuts, the irri.org/GRC/GRChome/home.htm.

Rice Today April 2003 9


Beijing puts rice on the table

outh Korea has become the Conference, and another 200 endorsement. By February, the
latest country to endorse the attended the World Rice Commerce Philippines, Laos, Indonesia and
Beijing Declaration on Rice, one Conference. Meanwhile, the South Korea had endorsed the
of the key outcomes of the first-ever International Rice Technology and declaration.
International Rice Congress, which Cultural Exhibition attracted 40
took place in the Chinese capital in exhibitors. Historic event
September 2002. Chinese President Perhaps most significantly, “I believe the roundtable has already
Jiang Zemin opened the congress on ministers from eight of the world’s proven itself to have been a historic
16 September with a speech major rice-producing nations – event,” said Dr. Ronald P. Cantrell,
emphasizing the importance of representing about half the planet’s director general of IRRI. “Not only
international collaboration in population – kicked off the congress did it bring together some of the
agricultural research and committing with a special ministerial roundtable world’s most populous nations – such
China to a leading role. on rice on 15 September (see page 12). as China, India and Indonesia – to
“China has managed to feed 22 It was here that the Beijing talk, for the first time, about rice. It
percent of the world’s population with Declaration on Rice was first also came at a crucial time in the
less than 10 percent of the world’s proposed, with a recommendation history of rice with the recent
arable land,” President Jiang said at from Thailand and several other sequencing of the rice genome,” a
the opening ceremony. “At present, countries that it should be more fully monumental achievement that
the 1.2 billion and more Chinese have developed before being circulated paves the way for researchers
sufficient food and clothing and, by for final to decode the function of
and large, lead a well-to-do life. each and every rice
China has [therefore] made its gene.
contribution to world grain
production and security.”
More than 1,000 delegates from at
least 20 countries attended the four-
day event, which marked the first-ever
meeting of all sectors of the inter-
national rice industry, including
researchers, traders, government
officials, private-sector representa-
tives, farmers and NGO officers.
While the industry can boast of
major successes in recent decades
– such as famine-eradicating
production increases in China,
India, Vietnam and Bangladesh
– it continues to struggle with
major challenges such as
poverty eradication,
household food security and
improving farmers’
Delegates to the
congress grappled with
these and a host of other
issues as they met at
two main events. Some
800 delegates attended
the 24th International
Rice Research

10 Rice Today April 2003

The congress delegates were
mostly from Asia, but there were also
representatives from Africa (where
rice production is growing rapidly),
North America, Australia, Europe,
and Central and South America.


Among the host of other issues the
congress faced were the impact of
liberalization on the international rice
trade (some rice cultures could be
wiped out) and the terrible poverty
trap that continues to ensnare
millions of rice farmers.
“Profitable, sustainable rice
production is essential to national and
regional stability – not just in Asia, but that, by bringing the rice industry
in much of the rest of the world as together at such congresses, we will
well,” commented Dr. Cantrell. “The get all those involved to focus on
delegates went to Beijing expecting to these problems and finally resolve
work, because we had a compre- them to the benefit of everyone –
hensive research program to report on especially poor rice farmers and
and share, as well as important trade consumers.”
information to analyze and dissect.”
With the United Nations’ decision Prime economic activity
last December to declare 2004 the Rice farming is one of the world’s
International Year of Rice, plans are prime economic activities because it
now under development for future provides more sustenance to more
congresses. people than any other food source and
“All rice-producing nations face is the single largest food source for
the same problems,” Dr. Cantrell said. the world’s poor. As the main crop
“For too long, rice farmers have been grown on more than 200 million
the most deprived and forgotten of all farms, it is the single largest source
our food of income and employment for
producers. hundreds of millions of rural
It is our residents in the developing world.
hope Because rice fields cover 11 percent of
the planet’s arable area, or more than
500 million ha, rice farmers also have
a key role to play in environmental
protection. Finally, rice is the
foundation of social stability and food
security for some of the world’s most

populous nations, including China,

India, Indonesia and Nigeria.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin (clockwise

from left) greets IRRI Board Chair Angeline
Saziso Kamba, speaks at the opening
ceremony of the congress, and shares a
light moment with hybrid rice pioneer
Prof. Yuan Longping and IRRI Director
General Ronald Cantrell. Gina Zarsadias
explains IRRI Training Center materials
to exhibition attendees. Thai Trade
Representative Prachuab Chaiyasan and

IRRI Consultant Gelia Castillo check out

farmers’ hats at the Asia Rice Foundation

Rice Today April 2003 11

Asian ministers declare rice
key to stability and prosperity
he first-ever regularly cited as one of
International the most critical political
Roundtable on Rice, factors influencing
featuring 13 ministerial governments in the
representatives from all region; if prices reach
of the world’s major rice unacceptable levels,
producers, has confirmed instability can result.
that the crop is essential
to the continued health, Setting the agenda
wealth and prosperity of “While rice consumers get
almost half the world’s all the political attention,
population. it’s time we realized that
The historic meeting rice producers – or
took place in Beijing on farmers – also have a key
15 September 2002, on role to play in a country’s
the eve of the first economic development,”
International Rice said Ronald P. Cantrell,
Congress. IRRI director general.
The gathering helped “For too long, rice farmers
set the agenda for the have been trapped in
congress, the first time poverty and deprived of
the international rice industry has A roundtable observer, Philippine National Scientist technologies that farmers in other
ever met. The roundtable also marked Gelia Castillo, makes a point during the ministerial sectors take for granted. Our main aim
discussions, as IRRI Board Member Mike Gale looks on.
the first time that high officials of the at the International Roundtable on
world’s rice-producing nations Rice was to start developing an agenda
gathered to discuss their kernel of representative and official ministerial for the rice industry that will result in
cultural and economic commonality – representative to the roundtable, sustainable, economically thriving
rice. whose views were echoed by many rice-farming communities with
In their opening statements, all other delegates. modern infrastructure and access to
the ministers spoke of the vital role Confirming the pivotal role of rice the latest technologies and expertise.”
rice plays in feeding their citizens and in keeping people fed and productive, The roundtable discussions
as a foundation of their cultures and, recent research shows that rice focused on the role of rice in
in several cases, their religions. “In supplies 32% of the total calories maintaining food security and social
Thailand, rice means life,” said consumed by the 3.6 billion people stability, and as a common economic
Prachuab Chaiyasan, the Thai trade who live in Asia. The price of rice is and cultural tie, especially in Asia.
Read all about it
Selected papers presented during the 24th International Rice Research Conference, which took place in conjunction with the rice congress, will
appear soon in the book Innovations in Rice Science for Impact and Livelihood of the Poor. The papers include Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s
opening address and the latest in cutting-edge rice research presented by some of the world’s most distinguished agricultural scientists:
• P.L. Timmer, University of California, San Diego, gives an overview on agriculture and poverty and highlights the need to fund rice research.
• T. Sasaki, Rice Genome Research Program of the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (Japan), covers genome sequencing.
• Ingo Potrykus, Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, discusses Golden Rice for developing countries.
• R. Matthews, Cranfield University, UK, looks at rice production, climate change and methane emissions.
• Peter Ooi, Food and Agriculture Organization Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program, covers the lessons learned from rice IPM.
• Justin Lin, Beijing University, writes about the effects of the World Trade Organization agreement on China’s economy and agricultural sector.
• Jun Yu and others from the Beijing Genomics Institute and Chinese Academy of Sciences discuss the Chinese super hybrid rice genome project.
• H. Hirochika, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (Japan), covers using retrotransposons for insertional mutagenesis in rice.
• M. Wahlqvist , Monash University (Australia), and H. Bouis, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C., analyze biofortification.
This 800-page volume should be in the library of every rice scientist. Check IRRI’s online publications catalog at www.irri.org/pubcat/pubcontents.htm
for updates on availability and how to order.

12 Rice Today April 2003

“Rice is an essential part of Chinese started a process that will result in
history, culture and national identity, more research and new technologies Roundtable on Rice
but it also has a key role in many that will benefit rice farmers and Ministerial and national representatives
other influential cultures such as in consumers everywhere.” Bangladesh, Dr. Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir,
State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture. Cambodia,
India, Japan and Indonesia,” Mr. May Sam Oeun, Secretary of State
observed Song Jian, one of the Beijing Declaration (Agriculture). China, Mr. Du Qinglin, Minister,
Ministry of Agriculture; Mr. Liu Jiang, Vice-
honorary chairmen of the congress At the conclusion of the roundtable, Chairman, State Development and Planning
organizing committee. the ministers agreed to circulate a Commission; Mr. Zhang Baowen, Vice Minister,
Ministry of Agriculture; Prof. Shen Guofang, Vice
The discussions also considered Beijing Declaration on Rice, which President, Chinese Academy of Engineering; Dr.
the essential roles rice research and states the following: Zhai Huqu, President, Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences. India, Dr. Panjab Singh,
access to new technologies play in ⇑ Rice production is the foundation of Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research
improving the livelihoods of farm food security and social stability for and Extension; Director General, Indian Council
of Agricultural Research. Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Ir.
families that grow rice, who represent almost half the world’s population Bungaran Saragih, Mec., Minister, Ministry of
more than half of all farm families (2.6 billion people). It is essential to Agriculture. Iran, H.E. Eng. Mahmood Hojjati,
Minister, Ministry of Agriculture. Korea (South),
worldwide. IRRI’s director general the national stability of the 13 nations Dr. Huhn-Pal Moon, Director General, National
commented that this development was represented at the roundtable. Crop Experiment Station, Rural Development
Administration. Laos, Mr. Viravanh Phannourath,
especially significant for his institute. ⇑ Rice production and consumption Director General, Department of Agriculture.
“Since IRRI was founded 42 years are national characteristics uniting Malaysia, Cik (Ms.) Rosmah Binti Haji Jentra,
Undersecretary, Ministry of Agriculture. Myanmar,
ago by the Rockefeller and Ford the 13 countries represented at the Maj. Gen. Nyunt Tin, Minister, Ministry of
foundations, it has been funded mostly roundtable, which include three of Agriculture and Irrigation. Sri Lanka, Mr. C.
Wijesundra, Deputy Director for Research,
by Western governments,” Dr. Cantrell the world’s largest nations: China, Regional Agricultural Development Center.
observed. “This group includes Japan, India and Indonesia. Thailand, Mr. Prachuab Chaiyasan, Minister of
Trade and Representative to the World Trade
which historically has been one of our ⇑ The 13 nations represented at the Organization, Prime Minister’s Office. Vietnam,
biggest donors. But it is noteworthy roundtable all seek economically Dr. Bui Ba Bong, Vice Minister, Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development.
that Japan is the only rice-producing strong and sustainable rural
nation that has significantly supported communities with diversified rice IRRI representatives
Mrs. Angeline Saziso Kamba (Zimbabwe), Chair,
international rice research over a long production playing a key role. Such Board of Trustees. Dr. Ronald P. Cantrell (USA),
period. If rice research is going to communities are also recognized as Director General. Dr. Ren Wang (China), Deputy
Director General for Research. Prof. Rudy Rabbinge
continue to benefit the poor rice the foundation of each nation and (Netherlands), Senator and Dean, Graduate
farmers and consumers of the world, essential to their continued national School, Wageningen University and Research
Centre; Former Chair, IRRI Board of Trustees.
then rice-producing nations need to development. Dr. Emmanuel Adilson Serrão (Brazil), Director
get together and provide more ⇑ Rice research and access to new General, Embrapa Amazonia Oriental; Member,
IRRI Board of Trustees. Prof. Keijiro Otsuka
resources. We can’t expect Western technologies are essential to the (Japan), Deputy Director, Graduate Program,
nations to support institutions like livelihoods and improved well-being Foundation for Advanced Studies on International
Development; Member, IRRI Board of Trustees.
IRRI forever.” of more than half the world’s rural Prof. Michael D. Gale (UK), Associate Research
families, as well as the development Director, John Innes Center; Member, IRRI Board
of Trustees. Dr. Gurdev Khush (India), Plant
Research impact of economically strong rice-based Breeder and IRRI Consultant. Prof. Gelia T. Castillo
Certainly, publicly funded rice communities. (Philippines), Member, Board of Trustees,
Philippine Rice Research Institute; Member,
research has impact. Over the past ⇑ The public sector must have a major Philippine National Academy of Sciences; IRRI
four decades, it has been instrumental role in such research and the Consultant.
in increasing potential yields from development of new, freely available Other principal scientists and observers
four to more than 10 tons per ha; in rice technologies. It is also essential Mr. Fazle Hasan Abed (Bangladesh), Founder and
Executive Director, Bangladesh Rural
helping to more than double world that the public sector – in both Advancement Committee; Member, IRRI Board of
rice production from 260 million to national and international research Trustees. Mr. Li Zhendong (China), Deputy Director
General, International Cooperation Division,
600 million tons; in providing rice – be guaranteed the resources it Ministry of Agriculture. Prof. Yuan Longping
varieties that mature quickly to allow needs to play this vital role. While (China), Director General, China National Hybrid
Rice Research and Development Center. Mr. Karl
two or even three crops per year, the private sector must also play a Gutbrod (Germany), Head, Rice and Field Crop
resist various pests and diseases, need role, the poverty of most rice Strategy, Syngenta Worldwide (Switzerland).
Dr. Ikuo Ando (Japan), Plant Breeder and Chief,
less fertilizer, and thrive under such producers and consumers makes it Rice Breeding Laboratory, National Agricultural
stresses as high salinity; and in essential that any new technologies Research Center for Hokkaido Region.
Dr. Muhammad Hanif (Pakistan), Agricultural
ensuring the development of more be made easily accessible to all Development Commissioner, Ministry of Food,
nutritious rice. those who need them. Agriculture and Livestock. Dr. James Cook (USA),
Member, National Academy of Sciences; Retired
“There is no doubt that rice ⇑ More must be done to make the Chief Scientist, Department of Agriculture.
research has achieved a lot,” Dr. citizens – especially the young Mr. Peter Kenmore (USA), International
Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, United
Cantrell said. “However, enormous people – of the 13 nations Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (Italy).
challenges remain, especially with represented at the roundtable more Prof. C. Peter Timmer (USA), Dean, School of
International Relations and Pacific Studies,
regard to alleviating poverty. It is our aware of the importance of rice to University of California, San Diego. Dr. Ron Phillips
hope that the Roundtable on Rice has their lives and their cultures. (USA), Member, National Academy of Sciences.

Rice Today April 2003 13

Manila makes T he Philippine capital was the venue for the 2002 annual general
meeting of IRRI’s parent organization, marking the first time this
gathering of 500 movers and shakers in publicly funded agricultural

CGIAR history research has taken place outside of Washington, D.C. The meeting of the
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) took
place at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel on 30 October-1 November with the
theme “Agriculture for growth and development.”
IRRI and its partners in the Los Baños Science Community seized the
chance to invite delegates to journey 60 km south of Manila on 28 October
for a Philippines Day program and again on 29 October for IRRI Day. More
than 280 visitors braved heavy rain to board the buses for IRRI Day and
were rewarded by gloriously fresh weather at the institute’s 252-hectare
experimental farm.
“Many visitors said that IRRI Day was the best field day they had ever
been to,” said Mike Jackson, director for program planning and coordination.
“Visitors spoke of guides’ enthusiasm and good humor and of the focused
presentations. Everyone did a great job.”


At the exhibit ribbon-cutting in the Makati Shangri-la Hotel are (from left) CGIAR Chairman Ian Johnson; CGIAR
Director Francisco Reifschneider (behind); Philippine Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chair Ramon
Magsaysay, Jr.; Patricia El-Ashry; Crawford lecturer Mohamed El-Ashry; and then-Secretary Leonardo Montemayor of
the Philippine Department of Agriculture. (Insets, clockwise from left) Imelda Revilla, spokesperson for the award-
winning scientific support team at IRRI; Odin Knudsen, senior advisor on environmentally and socially
sustainable development to the vice president of the World Bank; Mr. Johnson addresses the meeting; Dr.
Reifschneider escorts Philippine Vice-President Theofisto Guingona from the hall following his speech.

2002 CGIAR Science Award winners and team

reps (from left): Fred Pearce (Outstanding Journal-
ism), Christopher Barr of CIFOR (Outstanding
Communications), Bruce Campbell of CIFOR
(Outstanding Scientific Article), Imelda Revilla
of IRRI (Outstanding Scientific Support Team),
Jagdish Kumar of ICRISAT (King Baudouin
Award), Marilyn Louise Warburton of CIMMYT
(Promising Young Scientist), Tushaar Shah of
IWMI (Outstanding Scientist), Ruth Meinzen-
Dick of IFPRI (Outstanding Partnership).

(Left) Dr. Reifschneider and Sen. Magsaysay at the

IRRI exhibit; (right, from left) IRRI Board Chair Angeline
Kamba, South African CGIAR Exco Member Bongiwe
Njobe, WARDA Director General Kanayo Nwanze,
Future Harvest Executive Director Judith Symonds,
and South Africa National Department of Agricul-
ture Deputy Director-General Njabulo Nduli.

14 Rice Today April 2003

IRRI Day guides (from left) Josephine Narciso, Carlos Casal, Reycel Maghirang, Alvaro Pamplona, Criselda Ramos, Lina Torrizo, Renato Reaño,
Christina Casanova, Jessica Rey, Carlos Huelma, Blesilda Albano, Jose Roxas, Reymunda Labuguen, Tamerlane Mark Nas, Sylvia Avance, Lilia
Molina, Ailene Garcia, Ofelia Namuco, Estela Pasuquin, Ma. Theresa Tenorio, Leonor Herradura and Joel Janiya. Not pictured: Ma. Zenaida Borra,
Eleah Lucas and Ma. Angeles Quilloy.

Plant physiologist Renee Lafitte (above) makes a presentation as Emile

Frison, subsequently IPGRI director general designate,
designate, looks
looks on;
on; entomologist
entomologist Plant pathologists Nollie Vera Cruz (above left, from left) and Nancy
K.L. Heong (below) presents; among the visitors are Peter J. Matlon Castilla presenting; one of the 10 tractor-and-wagon rigs (above) that
(right, white shirt), Rockefeller Foundation deputy director took visitors around to the presentation sites; (inset) IRRI Director
for food security, and Doug Wholey (standing, blue General Ronald Cantrell; (below, from left) Dr. Cantrell with CGIAR
shirt), agronomist in the IFAD Director Francisco Reifschneider, CGIAR Chairman Ian Johnson and
Technical Advisory Division. WorldFish Center Director General Meryl Williams.

At Philippines Day:
(left, from left) WorldFish Center
Philippine Project Leader Boris Fabres, then
Philippine Agriculture Secretary Leonardo
Montemayor, Dr. Reifschneider, Mr.
Johnson; (below left, from left) IRRI Spokes-
person Duncan Macintosh with IFPRI Media
Relations Head Michael Rubinstein; (below,
from left) Dr. Reifschneider, Odin Knudsen
of the World Bank, Dr. Cantrell, Mr.
Johnson, IRRI Board Chair Angeline Kamba,
Philippine Representative to the CGIAR
Eliseo Ponce, and Ramon Razal, dean of the
College of Forestry, University of the
Philippines Los Baños; (below right) Sec.
and Monica Montemayor with Dr. Ponce.

Rice Today April 2003 15

Now able to feed its people with improved harvests from
lowland rice fields, Laos is focusing attention on making
upland agriculture more productive and sustainable

16 Rice Today April 2003

hath Kantannam and her
husband, Mai Khong, started
their garden a little more than
two years ago. It has since
matured into a roadside slice of
Eden amid the hardscrabble hills that crowd
the Ou River north of Luang Prabang. The
garden’s mango, lichee, lemon and star apple
trees do not yet bear fruit, but among the
annual and intermediate cash crops already
earning the couple a modest income are chili,

eggplant, banana and pineapple. Hedgerows of
leucaena and stylo legumes planted to control
erosion on this single hectare of sloping land
Phath and Mai Khong’s garden
experiences a minor popu-
also provide fodder for pigs. A few small
lation explosion during a stream-fed ponds at the bottom of the vale
farmers’ field day showcasing nurture fish that the couple share with their
this and several other par-
ticipatory research sites along children and grandchildren. Phath and Mai
the Ou River in northern Laos. Khong recently started marketing saplings
Phath (below) addresses the
visitors regarding her fruit-
from their fruit-tree nursery and experimen-
tree nursery. Perennial crops tally raising frogs to sell as food.
are a sustainable alternative Unlike biblical Eden, this garden is no
to the slash-and-burn system
(above) that population paradise of innocent leisure. Phath and Mai
growth and the resulting Khong devote long hours of hard labor to
shorter fallows have rendered
tending and expanding it. They are lucky to
have the time, and they owe their good fortune
to another hectare of land, inherited from
Phath’s mother, on the other side of the river.
That plot consists of several bunded
(embanked) rainfed paddies that reliably
produce the 2.5 tons of rice that the family of
six consumes each year. Unlike most of their
neighbors, the couple need not resort to
growing upland
rice (a dryland
crop like wheat) on
hillsides cleared by
Their rice needs
readily secured,
they devote their
spare time and
energy – and their
upland garden – to
improving their

“We hardly
ever have to weed
the lowland rice,”
says Mai Khong,
Rice Today April 2003 17
Farmers weed upland rice, an activity that absorbs up
to half of the crop’s labor demand; (continuing clockwise)
participatory research finds Dr. Linquist (left) and Mr.
Bounthanh (second from left) learning how farmers
dry indigo, boys sitting on the sidelines during an
extension visit, and farmers sharing experiences in a
field-day discussion group; Ms. Chay (right), the biodiver-
sity specialist, inspects a rice sample taken from a
farmer’s storehouse; rice is plentiful in a market in
Vientiane since Laos achieved national rice self-

citing the most time-consuming chore consumers have since come down and tor. Since 1995,
in upland rice production. “We use are now similar to prices in neighbor- the irrigated area
that time to work in the garden.” ing countries.” has grown by
The couple’s story illustrates the The Lao-IRRI Project is a collabo- eightfold to
happy corollary to a maxim of life in ration teaming IRRI with the Lao 100,000 ha, now
the Lao highlands: “Without rice, you National Agricultural and Forestry accounting for
can’t do anything.” Because they have Research Institute. Since the project’s almost a fifth of
rice, they can pursue a wealth of launch in 1991, the Swiss Agency for total lowland rice
options. And what is good for the Development and Cooperation has area. Irrigated
family is good for the nation. Now faithfully supported it with a commit- dry-season fields,
that Laos grows about as much rice as ment so far totaling US$14.5 million. all of which are
it needs at the national level, it can In the same period, the Lao rice planted to
devote more resources to tackling harvest has grown by more than half. modern varieties,
persistent regional rice deficits, Almost all of that gain has been in the have strongly
especially in the north, and to lowlands, where adoption of modern, contributed to
addressing the other economic, high-yielding varieties has ballooned the growing
environmental and social challenges from 5% to more than 80%. harvest.
that face its 5.3 million people. “One of the most striking features “Several
“Laos was never in modern of rice production in Laos during the ADB irrigation
history self-sufficient in rice until second half of the 1990s was the rapid projects are still
1999,” says Karl Goeppert, IRRI expansion of the irrigated area,” being com-
representative to the Lao People’s comments Kouang Douangsila, head pleted,” Mr.
Democratic Republic and head of the of the National Rice Research Pro- Kouang contin-
Lao-IRRI Project. “Rice prices for gram and Lao-IRRI project coordina- ues, referring to
18 Rice Today April 2003
the Asian Development Bank. “But focus – an ongoing, multifaceted
after that there will be no point to experiment in farmer participatory
irrigating more lowlands. As a research to test and disseminate
landlocked country between strategies to improve rice cultivation
Thailand and Vietnam, both of and diversify livelihoods in the north.
which are major rice exporters, Dr. Linquist works closely with
Laos will never have an economic Bounthanh Keoboualapha, head of
incentive to produce a big surplus. the Northern Agriculture and Forestry
The ADB and other donors are Research Center at nearby Huay
correct to orient new investment Khot, who explains why the tradi-
toward small irrigation projects in tional slash-and-burn system still

the mountains and so improve rice generally practiced in the region no

self-sufficiency in those remote longer meets people’s needs.
Leading Lao- Shortened fallows
IRRI’s intensified “Shifting agriculture has traditionally
focus on upland depended on long fallow periods to
sustainability is maintain soil fertility and control
Bruce Linquist, weeds,” Mr. Bounthanh says. “The
an IRRI upland need for more farmland to feed a
agronomist who growing population has led to wide- onerous weeding requirements permit
in 2000 moved spread deforestation, and in many farmers only marginal returns. In
from the project’s places it has forced farmers to shorten addition, shorter fallows and the
headquarters in fallows to only two years. As a result, resulting decline in soil fertility have
the Lao capital of erosion gets worse. And weeds get depressed upland rice yields for the
Vientiane to a much worse because scrubby or past decade. Leaving aside compelling
new regional grassy fallows leave lots of weed seeds environmental reasons to phase out
outpost in the on the ground, and a lot of them slash-and-burn agriculture, modern
scenic former survive because the fire that clears the conditions have brought upland Lao
capital of Luang scrub or grass doesn’t burn very hot.” farmers to the critical point where it is
Prabang, tucked Today, adequately weeding a profitable for them to shift to more
beside the hectare of upland rice takes 162 intensive land-use systems.
Mekong River in person-days, or up to half of the Fruit trees and other perennial
the mountains of crop’s total labor investment. cash crops are ideal for minimizing
northern Laos. Whereas the traditional strength of hillside erosion and associated
The garden of the extensive slash-and-burn system environmental ills caused by farming
Phath and Mai was that it exploited ample land fragile highlands. However, rutted or
Khong is one availability to optimize small commu- nonexistent roads make hauling these
result of this new nities’ meager labor resources, today’s crops to market a nonstarter for
Rice Today April 2003 19
lowland that produces one more ton with 3,160 distinct variety names.
of rice than it did, farmers can reduce Also collected were 237 samples of
by 2 ha the upland area used for wild and weedy rice types. The project
slash-and-burn rice,” says Dr. established a genebank for the short-
Linquist. “Newly terracing 1 ha of and medium-term storage of this
rainfed lowland paddy can lead to a germplasm at the National Agricul-
7 ha reduction in upland rice area. tural Research Center near Vientiane,
Irrigate that hectare so you can grow a which multiplies pure seed for
second crop in the dry season, and distribution to farmers.
you free 14 ha of upland for cash
crops or reforestation.” Biodiversity backup
Establishing montane lowlands is As reported by Chay Bounphanousay,
not always an option, though, espe- the center’s head of biodiversity,
cially for the poorest of the rural poor. power outages lasting as long as a
farmers in remote areas. These Lao-IRRI is therefore helping these week have sometimes turned the
farmers face a similar problem farmers identify upland rice varieties facility’s cold-storage vault into an
bringing home such bulky agricultural that perform well under short-fallow oven, rendering some accessions
inputs as fertilizer – or supplemen- conditions, fallow species that restore sterile. Fortunately, a second set of
tary supplies of rice. soil fertility quickly, and other ways to Lao accessions resides in the Interna-
Sadly, Lao attainment of national make upland rice-based cropping tional Rice Genebank at IRRI (see
rice self-sufficiency does not directly systems more productive and profit- page 8). Small as Laos is, the
solve the problem of local rice able. country’s contribution of more than
shortages in remote mountain Lao-IRRI not only strives to help 13,000 accessions to the International
communities. And, as mountain folk farmers build a sustainable future for Rice Genebank is second in size only
say, “Without rice, you can’t do rice farming in Laos. It also actively to India’s 18,000 accessions and half-
anything.” safeguards the country’s distin- again as large as third-place
This is why the Lao-IRRI Project guished rice heritage. An early Indonesia’s 8,500.
stresses improving rice productivity priority was to collect samples of the Lao-IRRI is actively evaluating
wherever possible. Montane lowlands myriad traditional rice varieties still hundreds of traditional Lao rice
– which are bunded paddies, either grown in the country. Because Laos varieties for yield, disease resistance
rainfed or irrigated, on valley bottoms lies within the center of origin of and other characteristics. And the
or stepped terraces cut into hillsides cultivated rice, its rice biodiversity is project encourages farmers to con-
(see the inside back cover) – are uniquely rich and significant. tinue to plant traditional varieties
solidly sustainable systems that offer From 1995 to 2000, collectors alongside modern ones. Lao farmers
strong potential for intensification. gathered 13,193 samples of cultivated typically grow each season several rice
“For every hectare of montane rice, which Lao farmers identified varieties displaying various character-
istics, in particular varieties that
mature at different rates. This allows
farmers to smooth peaks in labor
demand. It is also a hedge against
drought, as late-maturing varieties
may recover from an early drought
and early varieties may escape a late
drought altogether.
Finally, farmers who endure an
annual rice deficit – the number of
months of which is the Lao measure of
rural poverty – cherish early varieties
for hastening the return of homegrown
rice to the family table. Even today,
20 Rice Today April 2003
partners, four of the 16 Future Upland analysis
Harvest centers of the Consultative
Rural communities in the mountains of
Group on International Agricultural
northern Vietnam are among the poorest in
Research (CGIAR): IRRI, the Kenya- the land. They have benefited the least from
based World Agroforestry Centre the doi moi (renovation) reforms that since
1986 have transformed a nation of chronic
(formerly the International Centre for
food shortages into one of the world’s
Research in Agroforestry [ICRAF]), leading exporters of
Farmers file out of a participatory research site the Colombia-based International rice, coffee, rubber,
tea and other
during a field day and, Phath among them (below), Center for Tropical Agriculture
taste traditional rice varieties from a “mother-baby
agricultural products.
(Spanish acronym CIAT), and the Sri The Mountain Agrar-
trial.” A shop in Luang Prabang (left) displays paper
lanterns made from local paper mulberry (along with Lanka-based International Water ian Systems Program
(SAM by its French
dried strips of the bark), a popular fallow crop. Management Institute (IWMI).
acronym) has since
The tasks of the Integrated Upland 1998 been studying
85% of Lao rice is consumed on the Agricultural Research Project (IUARP) how farmers in
Castella JC, Quang DD, remote Bac Kan
farm where it is grown. are to develop, test and refine a editors. 2002. Doi Moi in Province adjust to the
In the highlands of northern methodology for integrated participa- the Mountains. Land use rapid policy and
changes and farmers’ institutional changes
Laos, the Lao-IRRI Project capitalizes tory upland agricultural research, livelihood strategies in Bac
brought by the doi
on the country’s rice biodiversity by while reinforcing the research capacity Kan Province, Viet Nam.
Hanoi, Vietnam: The
moi reforms and how
introducing superior traditional of national partners; to develop
Agricultural Publishing to help them prosper
upland varieties to areas where they sustainable livelihood systems as House. 283 pages. through sustainable
adaptations to their
are not grown. In so-called “mother- alternatives to slash-and-burn; and to
rice-based cropping systems (see Rice Today,
baby trials,” participating farmers run enhance development, decision- Vol. 1, No. 1, pages 20-25).
“baby trials” in which they try out a making and leadership capacity within SAM researchers and collaborators have
now published a volume of studies resulting
candidate variety, while in the the target communities.
from their interdisciplinary work in Bac Kan.
researcher-assisted “mother trial” all “The IUARP is an on-the-ground The research provides a foundation for
of the test varieties are grown side by collaboration to integrate participatory understanding the successes and failures of
past policies and projects, and for targeting
side to facilitate comparison. Farmers activities aimed at developing im-
the groups most in need of development
rate the varieties according to agro- proved livelihood systems,” summa- assistance today.
nomic and eating-quality criteria to rizes Dr. Linquist. “It’s also a model of Available in English and Vietnamese
from Institut de Recherche pour le
guide the project’s decisions on which CGIAR center collaboration.”
Développement (bougeard@paris.ird.fr;
ones to promote. The project both In several villages along the Ou www.ird.fr/us) or IRRI (irripub@cgiar.org;
depends on the genebank near River, the project and its organiza- www.irri.org).
Vientiane for candidate seeds and tions work with cooperating farmers
complements its conservation effort like Phath and Mai Khong to establish easy to establish and grow, and it
by keeping worthy traditional varie- experimental and demonstration sites shouldn’t compete with rice. Impor-
ties alive in farmers’ fields. to test and disseminate strategies for tantly, it should offer an economic
improving rice cultivation and for benefit that can be realized in the
Active collaboration diversifying crop, livestock and short term. We’ve found that the
Also tapping biodiversity, the project fishery options. Interplanting, to cite legume crotalaria, for example, is a
plans this year to carry forward a only one strategy applicable in a range good nitrogen fixer and biomass
successful experiment in southwestern of environments, pairs rattan with producer. But, if there isn’t another
China in which farmers control a teak or paper mulberry, for example, use for it, farmers aren’t interested.
fungal disease by interplanting high- and pineapple with legume hedge- “Participatory research takes a lot
value but disease-susceptible tradi- rows. Experimental improved fallow of time and effort in the first couple of
tional varieties with modern, disease- crops to plant in rotation with upland years,” he concludes. “But the effort
resistant hybrid rice (see page 26). rice offer benefits in addition to pays off because you earn farmers’
Lao-IRRI is active in a collabora- controlling erosion. trust and their willingness to collabo-
tion led by the Lao National Agricul- “A good fallow species should rate. And, finally, you achieve more
tural and Forestry Research Institute improve or maintain soil fertility,” rapid adoption of sustainable tech-
that brings together, with other explains Dr. Linquist. “It should be nologies.”
Rice Today April 2003 21
Organized free
for all The new Rice Knowledge Bank lays
the benefits of more than four decades
of research at your fingertips

t was one of those magic moments The room was not a comfortable, IRRI scientists to help rice farmers
when Rajat M. Nag wished he had well-appointed den, but one of the manage the pests and diseases that
a camera. Bubbling with enthus- cramped, spartan Internet cafés that attack their crops. The kids were
iasm, two youngsters were taking dot the roadside in the impoverished translating the relevant pages of Rice
delight in demonstrating the basics rice-growing expanses of northeastern Doctor into Thai for their parents.
of computer use to their parents. Thailand. What intrigued Mr. Nag
But for Mr. Nag, who is director most was what the kids had up. Not Farmers will benefit
general of the Mekong Department for them the digital mayhem of the “I loved hearing this story,” says Mark
of the Asian Development Bank, this latest computer game. On their screen Bell, the head of the Training Center
heart-warming scene went way were pages from Rice Doctor, a at IRRI. “It demonstrates that,
beyond cute. diagnostic program developed by although very few poor rice farmers

22 Rice Today April 2003

Easy access: training and courseware specialist Albert Atkinson demonstrates how to
use the Rice Knowledge Bank to Mark Bell, head of the IRRI Training Center. Content
created by IRRI scientists and others is structured so that material residing within one
of the bank’s six major categories can be cross-referenced and combined with items
from other areas.


can use a computer or have access to (NARES) and other partners that run All too often, new technologies
one, if you make information available extension services. In other words, are successfully developed only to fail
on the Internet, chances are many IRRI trains trainers, who then adapt to reach those who need them most –
farmers will benefit in some way.” institute research methods and the farmers – because of poor
To be sure, rice knowledge rarely recommendations to local conditions communication. Even worse,
flows this directly from IRRI to and relay them to farmers. That said, potentially valuable technologies that
farmers. The institute focuses its one of the hardest challenges in languish unused can become
training and other knowledge- agricultural development remains, as forgotten and permanently lost.
dissemination efforts on the staff always, the timely and effective Meanwhile, NGOs have begun to play
members of national agricultural transfer of technologies from the an important role in extension, but
research and extension systems research laboratory to farmers’ fields. few have the resources or expertise to

Rice Today April 2003 23

develop their own can easily call up the
technologies. Only with material in a form ready-
access to technologies formatted for printing,
developed by scientists in using a concept known as
institutes like IRRI can single-source publishing.
they hope to achieve Content in the Rice
impact. Knowledge Bank falls into
Into the yawning gap six categories or areas:
between research and 1) e-Learning Courses,
impact has stepped the ALBERT ATKINSON 2) Field Diagnosis and
Rice Knowledge Bank. Practices, 3) Fact Sheets,
This is the world’s first 4) Reference Materials,
comprehensive, digital 5) Rice Biological Data-
library of training The reach of cyberspace: Internet storefronts (above) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, bases, and 6) Training
India; the IRRI Training Center’s e-Learning for Development course created a far-flung
materials on rice farming learning community for two weeks in August and September 2002, in which 27
Materials. Within each
and one of the first digital students from 14 countries (map below) completed the course at home. area, content is structured
extension services for as reusable, or shared,
those who work with poor learning and information
farmers. What is more, the wealth of sector work in this area, the Rice objects, meaning that objects residing
information on rice production and Knowledge Bank offers government within one area can be cross-
training in the Rice Knowledge Bank extension officers and NGO staffers – referenced and combined with items
– which, of course, includes Rice and anyone else who logs on – from other areas. For example, the
Doctor – continues to grow with new unprecedented access to rice Rice Grain Quality course, which is
contributions made by scientists and knowledge and training information. located within e-Learning Courses,
educators from IRRI and elsewhere. IRRI aims to make this dynamic uses any number of objects from other
Internet portal the world’s central areas, such as various reference
Scientists’ participation repository of rice knowledge and materials and the decision-support
IRRI training materials have always training materials. The knowledge tool TropRice, which resides in Field
been notable for their quality and bank has made a good start by Diagnosis and Practices.
focus, thanks to a tradition of capturing much of IRRI’s 42 years of At the institute level, scientists
scientists actively participating in rice research in digital form, which are now using the Rice Knowledge
training. What is new about the Rice allows it to be shared, searched and Bank to prepare materials for
Knowledge Bank is that it provides all used in any part of the world with traditional classroom courses. Rather
this in a breakthrough format that Internet connectivity. For areas where than reinvent the wheel, they search
sets a new standard in organizing the Internet is inaccessible, the Rice the bank for their topic, see what has
material for easy retrieval. Borrowing Knowledge Bank is built to run on already been written and then make
the latest and best ideas from private- CD-ROM. From either source, users necessary adjustments. When their

24 Rice Today April 2003

course is complete, they upload the knowledge, this adds an exciting new Banking on IRRI
revised materials into the Training dimension to IRRI – and to the
Materials area, where it is stored for CGIAR in general,” adds Dr. Atkin- Twenty-five years ago last December, the
use during the next training. This can son, referring to the Consultative International Rice Genebank at IRRI opened
save hours of preparation time and Group on International Agricultural cold-storage facilities that now hold in trust
more than 108,000 samples of rice
ensure that training messages are Research, IRRI’s parent organization.
biodiversity donated by more than 100
delivered consistently. The possibilities made evident by countries (see page 8). Last year, IRRI
the Rice Knowledge Bank have spurred launched the Rice Knowledge Bank, the
New dimension the development of digital extension as dynamic Internet portal that aims to
“The Training Materials site is a discipline of its own. IRRI is now become the world’s central repository of
receiving materials developed by offering digital extension workshops rice knowledge and training materials.
many IRRI scientists and their for NARES, NGOs and farmers This year, the new IRRI Image Bank is
offering online the world’s most com-
partners,” says Albert Dean Atkinson, themselves. The workshops focus on
prehensive library of photography related
the IRRI training and courseware how to use the Rice Knowledge Bank to rice research and farming. Visit the IRRI
specialist who leads the ongoing to build capacity that allows Image Bank at http://rice-photos.irri.org
development of the Rice Knowledge participants to make better-informed and read about it in the next issue of Rice
Bank. “These include people from rice-production decisions for Today.
CAB International, the University of themselves or their constituents.
Queensland and the Royal Agricul- “The Rice Knowledge Bank will be
tural College of Cirencester. We also a big help to our organization because field who are attending to the different
capture and store input from students it is very informative,” comments problems of rice farmers, especially in
and instructors where it can be Anita V. Antonio, a workshop the area of principles and practices of
searched and accessed. participant from the Philippine Rice farm management.”
“With regard to the systematic Research Institute. “It will readily Visit the Rice Knowledge Bank at
management and delivery of assist our extension workers in the www.knowledgebank.irri.org.

Rice Today April 2003 25

adds value
rop biodiversity has a key role their popularity with consumers but applications. By planting different
to play in helping farmers are rarely grown because of their low types of rice alongside each other,
improve their livelihoods yields, susceptibility to disease or researchers found they could almost
while protecting the environment and other drawbacks. completely control rice blast, a fungal
their health. This is emerging from In what The New York Times disease that can cost the rice industry
the latest rice research on the benefits described as a “stunning success” and millions of dollars per year.
of planting traditional rice varieties “one of the largest agricultural
either alongside or in place of the experiments ever,” an IRRI-led team Maximum effect
modern, high-yielding varieties of scientists working in the south- Exploiting biodiversity to protect
normally grown today by most of the western Chinese province of Yunnan crops is hardly new to some farmers
world’s 200 million rice farmers. found a way to use biodiversity to in Yunnan and elsewhere. What is
Many of these traditional varieties improve control of a major rice new is how researchers used cutting-
command a higher price because of disease despite reduced pesticide edge science in their collaboration

26 Rice Today April 2003

The practice of interplanting high-value
but disease-susceptible traditional rice
varieties with disease-resistant hybrids is
dressing the rice lands of southwest China
in pinstripes. Farmers (right) transplant several
rows of hybrids between previously
transplanted rows of a traditional variety.

with farmers to determine how to use glutinous rice – which commands a been a challenge. The project
this strategy to maximum effect. high price but is susceptible to blast – coordinator, Tom Mew, who is also
Thousands of farmers in Yunnan between four to six rows of blast- the head of IRRI’s Entomology and
have now embraced the technique resistant hybrid rice in a repeating Plant Pathology Division, has
because it improves yield and income pattern. dedicated decades to working with
while reducing their reliance on Simple as this description of farmers to control the pests and
chemicals. The strategy calls for the technique sounds, refining diseases that can devastate their
farmers to interplant one row of interplanting to make it profitable has crops.

Rice Today April 2003 27

Several rows of hybrid rice control blast disease in the taller traditional glutinous varieties, which are popular with consumers and earn farmers extra income.

Dr. Mew and his team reasoned within the interplanted crop, from a adopted interplanting of rice varieties,
that planting a wide area with a single common level of 55% in monoculture, and the area under mixtures had
variety of rice, as has been done in the and the yield loss dropped from 28% expanded to 106,000 ha. Last year,
Red River Valley of Yunnan, invited to nothing at all. rice interplanting covered an area of
epidemic outbreaks of such diseases as In 1999, the interplanted area more than 200,000 ha in 101 counties
blast. The pathogen adapted to the expanded to 3,342 ha, and cooper- of Yunnan.
defenses of one plant and then was able ating farmers reported that the The IRRI-Yunnan research team
to attack the remainder of the crop. But technique was providing them with an plans to extend the approach to other
a crop that exhibited biodiversity would average of US$281 more income per provinces in southwest China and to
surround the pathogen with dissimilar hectare. By the end of 2001, about other rice-producing countries,
plants, making it harder for the disease 60% of rice farm households in the including the Philippines, Indonesia,
to spread. indica rice area of Yunnan had Laos and Vietnam.
“Our challenge was to simulate
through varietal deployment on actual
rice farms a situation similar to Philippine homecoming
natural diversity and achieve the Recent projects in IRRI’s host country,
resistance to pests or diseases that the Philippines, have seen traditional
such diversity supplies,” Dr. Mew rice varieties successfully reintroduced
said. “We focused on interplanting in areas where they had been lost.
On the southern island of Mindanao,
rice, or growing different varieties in
IRRI is conducting an on-farm
the same field.” participatory trial with about 50 farmers
testing some 20 improved and
Improved income traditional upland rice varieties. The
An experiment in 1997 covering a few farmers have so far commented
hectares indicated that interplanting favorably on two traditional upland Dinorado.
could achieve 92–99% control of rice varieties, Azucena and Dinorado, rating
the IRRI-supplied seed above both their own traditional material and modern varieties.
blast while boosting yields by 0.5–1
The farmers had lost most of their own seed for Azucena and Dinorado following a shift
ton per ha, allowing farmers to out of upland rice into maize, and the seed that remained with them had become badly
improve their income through both mixed with other varieties. Farmers supplied with new stocks of pure seed from the
higher production and reduced costs. International Rice Genebank at IRRI (see page 8) said they wanted to plant the varieties
The following year, cooperating again next year, as they grew well and commanded a good price.
farmers interplanted 812 ha with Another project, in 2001 in the Cagayan Valley of the northern Philippines, saw researchers
hybrid and glutinous rice. They introduce to local farmers a system of double cropping that included the traditional variety
Wag-wag, which had all but disappeared from local farms. Farmers said the strengths of the
sprayed the crop with fungicide only
system were increased profitability, reduced input costs, a better market price, and the
once. Yields reached 9 tons of hybrid potential for adding crops other than rice, such as mung bean, in the wet season.
rice and nearly 1 ton of high-value IRRI and the Philippine Rice Research Institute had earlier distributed in the Cagayan
glutinous rice per hectare. Even more Valley two tons of rice seeds of 20 modern and eight traditional varieties. This was to assist
impressive was that the incidence of farmers who lost their seed stocks when crops failed because of El Niño of 1997 and Typhoon
blast in glutinous rice fell to 5% Loleng in 1998.

28 Rice Today April 2003

New head for IPGRI

Emil Q. Javier, chair of the interim Science Council of the CGIAR, was named

on 9 December one of the Ten Outstanding Filipinos (TOFIL) for 2002 by

mile Frison is the the Philippine Jaycee Senate and the Insular Life Insurance

director general

Company. Dr. Javier was on the IRRI Board of Trustees in 1994-95,

designate of the Rome- including service as chair. He has also been director of the

based International Plant Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines,

Genetic Resources Insti- Los Baños (UPLB), chancellor of UPLB, secretary of the

tute (IPGRI), one of Philippine Department of Science and Technology,

IRRI’s sister Future director general of the Asian Vegetable Research

and Development Center, and president of the
Harvest centers of the

University of the Philippines (UP) System.

Consultative Group on

International Agricultural Research

(CGIAR). IPGRI’s mandate is to use crop

diversity to advance sustainable dev-

elopment. Dr. Frison, a Belgian national, is

currently director of the International
Network for the Improvement of Banana and ○

Plantain, one of IPGRI’s three programs.

Dr. Frison has spent most of his career

in international agricultural research, ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

including 18 years of work related to plant Swaminathan heads Pugwash Movement

genetic resources. He joined IPGRI in 1987


and a decade later launched the Global .S. Swaminathan, former director general of IRRI (1982-88), has been elected

Program for Musa Improvement, which president of the prestigious Pugwash Movement. The first Indian to head the

brought together researchers and growers movement, he will hold the position for five years from his installation in August 2002.

with an interest in bananas and plantains. Dr. Swaminathan is also a UNESCO-Cousteau professor of eco-technology and

In 2002, he launched the Global chairman of the Swaminathan Research Foundation, a non-profit Chennai-based

Consortium on Musa Genomics, whose goal organization that promotes sustainable development.

is to decode the genetic sequence of the The Pugwash movement started in 1957 as a global conscience-keeper. “Pugwash deals

banana and use it to improve the varieties mainly with the use and abuse of science,” explains Dr. Swaminathan. “The question is,

available to smallholder farmers. How can science be a powerful instrument for human well-being and happiness, and not

Dr. Frison will take over as director become an element of human destruction?”

general on 1 August, when Geoffrey Hawtin He added, “The choice of an agricultural scientist is significant at a time when children

finishes his term. are being sold in a country like Afghanistan for wheat.”

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Partners on the move Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid breeder by training who specialized in seed
Tropics (ICRISAT). An Irish national, Dr. production and issues related to intellectual
nrica Porcari,

ional, in September
an Italian nat-
Keatinge previously served at the
International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria as assistant to
property rights, Dr. Rai succeeds Panjab
Singh, who retired on 31 December.
Ruben L. Villareal on 31 December
became the CGIAR the director general for resource completed his three-year term as director
chief information mobilization. He was also director of IITA’s of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for
officer (CIO). Ms. Resource and Crop Management Division Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture
Porcari brings to this from 1999 to 2002. Dr. Keatinge has over (SEARCA). The officer in charge of SEARCA
newly created pos- 25 years’ experience as a systems is Djoko Suprapto, deputy director for
ition in Penang, agronomist and more than 100 scientific graduate scholarship and research and
Malaysia, extensive knowledge and papers to his credit. development, pending the appointment of
experience regarding information Rajesh Agrawal in October became a new director.
technology related to development, having the new director of finance at ICRISAT. Pierre Roger
worked as chief of telecommunications and Prof. Agrawal was previously associate traded microbiology
ICT field services at the United Nations professor at the Indian Institute of for painting and
Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Management in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He music after 35 years
Food Program, and as coordinator of has extensive teaching, research and of service at the
CGNET services to CGIAR centers. Until consulting experience in finance, Institut de Recherche
recently, she was also a fellow at the Reuters management, accounting and tax planning, pour le Développe-
Digital Vision Fellowship Program at and has authored several research papers ment in France, most
Stanford University. As CIO, Ms. Porcari and books on accounting systems. He recently as director of research. Though
leads the development and implementation replaces Kwame Akuffo-Akoto, who is now retired, Dr. Roger is still involved in
of the CGIAR’s information-technology and IRRI’s director of finance. preparing book chapters and teaching. He
knowledge-management strategies. Mangala Rai is the new director served at IRRI as a soil microbiologist in
John Donough Heber Keatinge in general of the Indian Council of Agricultural 1979-91, from which time this picture dates.
October became the new deputy director Research and secretary of the Department Dr. Roger’s new email address is the
general for research at the International of Agricultural Research and Education. A euphonic p.roger@wanadoo.fr.

Rice Today April 2003 29

Awards recognize achievements


alvin Qualset, IRRI Board of

Trustees member and founding

director of the Genetic Resources

Conservation Program of the University of

California’s Division of Agriculture and

Natural Resources, received the 2002

William L. Brown Award for Excellence in

Genetic Resources Conservation. The

Missouri Botanical Garden, in

collaboration with the Donald Danforth

Plant Science Center, Washington University in St. Louis and the

World Agriculture Forum, sponsored a symposium on 5 November

in St. Louis to honor Dr. Qualset’s accomplishments. Former IRRI principal plant breeder Gurdev S. Khush (left) was named an adopted

Tom Mew, plant pathologist and head of IRRI’s Entomology and distinguished son of Laguna Province, Philippines, for his leadership of IRRI’s

and Plant Pathology Division, received the Friendship Award 2002 rice breeding program. Laguna Governor Teresita Lazaro and officers of the Laguna

from the government of Jiangsu Province, China. The award, provincial government presented the award to Dr. Khush on 9 September in Sta. Cruz.

presented in Nanjing on 20 October, recognizes Dr. Mew’s ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Keeping up with IRRI staff

contribution to protecting rice from diseases, especially the

biological control of bacterial blight and sheath blight in Jiangsu.

Dr. Mew and collaborators from the Jiangsu Academy of Agri-

uy Kirk, former soil chemist in

sciences isolated the non-pathogenic bacteria B916, which ○
IRRI Crop, Soil and Water Sciences
suppresses seedborne fungal pathogens. This technology has (CSWS), on 1 February started as professor

recently been applied on more than 340,000 ha in Jiangsu.

of soil systems and head of the Soil Systems

Sant Singh Virmani, plant breeder and deputy head of IRRI Group at the National Soil Resources

Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biochemistry, received the Third

Institute (NSRI) at Cranfield University,

World Network of Scientific Organizations Award in Agriculture United Kingdom. Established in August

for 2000 in New Delhi on 21 October 2002, at a ceremony delayed 2001, NSRI brings together various groups

by the 9/11 terror attacks. Dr. Virmani received the award during

with expertise in soil and land resources. Dr.

the 7th General Assembly of the Third World Network of Scientific Kirk is also putting the final touches on The chemistry of submerged

Organizations. At a 12 November luncheon of the Crop Science

soils, a book based primarily on his 13-year body of work at IRRI.

Society of America in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Virmani received Muhammed Alam in September joined CSWS to conduct

the 2002 International Service in Crop Science Award for his work research on site-specific nutrient management and integrated pest

in developing and disseminating hybrid rice in the tropics.

management practices.

J.K. Ladha, IRRI soil fertility and plant nutrition specialist, Ravindra Kumar in September joined CSWS to develop and

was made a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy at a

validate physiologically based protocols suitable for the mass

concurrent event in Indianapolis. screening of rice breeding lines for drought tolerance and to compile

B. Mishra, project director of the Directorate of Rice data on certain drought-tolerance mapping populations.

Research, Hyderabad, India, received the 2002 Senadhira Rice

Stephan M. Haefele in February joined CSWS as a soil

Research Award in September at the International Rice Congress scientist/agronomist under the supervision of To Phuc Tuong.

in Beijing (see page 10). The award – which commemorates Hum Nath Bhandari in September joined the Social

Dharmawansa Senadhira, leader of IRRI’s research program on

Sciences Division (SSD) with responsibility for analyzing farm-level

flood-prone rice until his death in 1998 – recognizes Dr. Mishra’s data collected for studying drought-coping mechanisms of rainfed

outstanding contributions to salinity-tolerance rice-breeding

rice farmers in eastern India, northeast Thailand and southern

research and development in India. More than 30 salt-tolerant rice China.

varieties developed by Dr. Mishra are now broadly cultivated in Manik Lal Bose in July joined SSD to assist Mahabub

salt-affected inland, coastal and sodic areas of India.

Hossain in conducting dialogues and workshops with Bangladeshi

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
partners. He also analyzes and interprets interview and survey data

Virendra Pal Singh, an

agronomist with 30 years’ on rural livelihoods and changes in the rural economy.

Mohammed Zainul Abedin in January joined SSD as an

service to IRRI, has left the

international research fellow under the supervision of Dr. Hossain.

institute to establish the South

Asia Office of the World Devendra K. Dwivedi in July joined Plant Breeding,

Agroforestry Center. During a Genetics and Biochemistry (PBGB) with responsibility for

workshop in January, N.I. developing significantly improved IR64 lines suitable for the rainfed

Bhuiyan (right), Bangladesh Rice environments of eastern India.

Research Institute director of Ish Kumar in August joined PBGB to help manage an

research, presented a plaque to

international network on hybrid rice, to develop hybrid rice

Dr. Singh, as wife Mercedita Pal

technology using two- and three-line breeding systems, and to

Singh looked on. R.K Singh,

improve grain quality in hybrids.

IRRI liaison scientist for India,

commended Dr. Singh for his Rhoda Lantin is the new manager of the Analytical Services

Laboratory, overseeing the operations of the plant and soil analysis,

contributions to the rainfed

rice systems of eastern India. mass spectrometer, radioisotope and organic analysis laboratories.

30 Rice Today April 2003


n recent months, IRRI has added Institute [PPI]; 140 pages) is a pocket- has been fully updated and expanded to
seven new titles to its inventory of sized guidebook for managing nutrients include 64 countries – from Afghanistan
more than 100 books and and detecting nutrient deficiency and to Venezuela. There are also discussions
publications currently available on rice toxicity symptoms in rice grown in on international issues important to rice
research and related topics. Check the tropical and subtropical regions. A such as the looming water crisis, global
IRRI online publications catalog at companion to Rice: Nutrient Disorders climate change and biotechnology.
www.irri.org/pubcat/pubcontents.htm for and Nutrient Management (also co- Direct
pricing and ordering information on these published by IRRI and PPI), this guide Seeding:
and other titles and for announcements refines and simplifies site-specific Research
that new books are becoming available. nutrient management (SSNM) concepts Strategies and
Water-wise for practitioners. The SSNM approach has Opportunities
Rice Production been successfully evaluated in a wide (edited by S.
(edited by B.A.M. range of farmers’ fields in Asia and is now Pandey et al;
Bouman et al; well positioned for wider-scale evaluation 383 pages)
356 pages) and adaptation by Asian farmers. demonstrates
explores ways to ORYZA2000: how Asian rice
grow rice using Modeling systems are
less water to Lowland Rice undergoing
safeguard food (by B.A.M. various types
security and Bouman et al of change in
preserve precious and co- response to
water resources. published with economic factors and technological
This book, which the Wagenin- opportunities in farming. For example,
reviews progress gen University there has been a shift from transplanting
made in developing water-saving tech- and Research to direct-seeding methods for rice
nologies for rice production, has sections Centre [WUR]; establishment. The rising cost of labor has
on intermittent irrigation, the system of 235 pages) is provided economic incentives for direct
rice intensification, aerobic rice, rice- the successor to seeding, and the availability of short-
wheat, physiology and breeding, and a series of duration rice varieties and chemical weed-
irrigation systems. An accompanying CD lowland rice growth simulation models control methods has made such a shift
contains information on technology developed by IRRI and WUR in the 1990s. profitable. Papers in this book review past
transfer for water savings in the Besides scientific and programming patterns of changes in crop establishment
Philippines. updates, ORYZA2000 contains new and factors explaining such patterns,
Developments features that allow a more explicit assess the likely future patterns of change
in the Asian Rice simulation of crop management options, in crop establishment in various
Economy (edited such as irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer ecosystems and regions, and identify
by M. Sombilla et management. It can also be used in strategic research issues for improving
al; 436 pages) application-oriented research such as the rice productivity by manipulating crop-
covers emerging design of crop ideotypes and the analysis establishment methods and related
trends in rice of yield gaps. Full documentation of the factors.
supply and model, calibration programs, and three A Handbook
demand. Govern- sets of example data input files are of Rice Seed-
ment policy- provided on an accompanying CD. borne Fungi (by
makers and Rice T.W. Mew and
farmers can use Almanac, P. Gonzales; 83
the information third edition pages) focuses
provided to understand how trends in rice (edited by J.L. on the important
supply, demand and trade change with Maclean et al; seedborne fungi
economic growth, political development co-published that cause
and demographic changes. Country with the Inter- diseases of rice
studies cover China, India, Indonesia, national foliage, stem,
Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Center for leaf sheath,
Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Tropical root, grain and
Rice: A Agriculture, inflorescence. It provides information on
Practical Guide West Africa more than 50 species that have been
to Nutrient Rice Develop- detected in rice seeds during routine
Management ment Association, and Food and testing and analysis. The information,
(edited by T. Agriculture Organization; 253 pages) has which can be used for teaching and as a
Fairhurst and C. become a standard source book for the reference when conducting seed health
Witt and co- most important economic activity on testing in different laboratories, should be
published with earth. It brings together general used in conjunction with available
the Potash & information about rice and data about rice information on local rice-growing
Phosphate production worldwide. The third edition conditions.

Rice Today April 2003 31

The congress “From the Green Revolution to the Date Event Venue Contact
Gene Revolution” will take place in Bologna, Italy, 30 Apr- 2nd International Conference Las Palmas, Gran shobbs@wessex.ac.uk; www.
2 May on Water Resources Canaria, UK wessex.ac.uk/conferences/2003/
on 28-31 May. Scheduled speakers and their
Management 2003 waterresources2003/pp.html
topics include: N. Borlaug, Texas A&M University 30 May- Empowering women through info. and Pune, India http://gendwaar.gen.in;
(Feeding a world of 10 billion people: our 21st 2 Jun knowledge: from oral traditions to ICT harsha_parekh@vsnl.com
century challenge); M. Swaminathan, The 4-6 Jun ECOSUD 2003: Fourth Siena, Italy shobbs@wessex.ac.uk;
Swaminathan Foundation (Towards an evergreen International Conference on www.wessex.ac.uk/conferences/
revolution); G. Khush, University of California, Ecosystems and Sustainable 2003/ecosud03/index.html
Davis, and former IRRI principal plant breeder Development
(Green revolution: the way forward); M. Gale, 1-6 Jun Mechanisms of Cell Signalling Hong Kong grc@grcmail.grc.uri.edu
John Innes Centre and IRRI board member 5-7 Jun Int’l Conference on Regional Raipur, India e-mail: asastri@yahoo.com
Climate Change and Agriculture
(Comparative mapping in cereals); J. Bennett,
2-6 Jun Nitrogen Fertilizer Production Belgium hrd@ifdc.org; hrdu@ifdc.org;
IRRI senior molecular biologist (Proteomics: Technology Workshop www.ifdc.org
what problems can we tackle in crop 15-27 Jun Agroecology, IPM and East Lansing, kmaredia@msu.edu
improvement?); I. Potrykus, Swiss Federal Sustainable Agriculture Michigan, USA
Institute of Technology (Golden crops and iron 16-21 Jun 7th International Congress of Barcelona, Spain congress@aopc.es;
fortification). For details, visit www.avenuemedia. Plant Molecular Biology www.ispmb2003.com
it/linkCONG/Green-Gene/prog.html. 29 Jun- 11th Int’l Conference on Intelligent Brisbane, Australia www.iscb.org/ismb2003/
3 Jul Systems for Molecular Biology index.shtml
RURAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING 29 Jun- 7th International Conference on Ravello, Italy icabr@economia.uniroma2.it;
The International Centre for development 3 Jul Productivity, Public Goods and www.economia.uniroma2.it/
Public Policy conferenze/icabr2003
oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA) training
29 Jun- 1st FEMS Congress of European Cankarjev Dom, www.fems-microbiology.org/
in interdisciplinary team work for participatory 3 Jul Microbiologists Ljubljana, Slovenia congress2003.htm
rural development takes place in English, 12 6-11 Jul 15th International Plant Protection Beijing, China ippc2003@ipmchina.net; www.
Jan.-23 July 2004, in Wageningen, Netherlands; Congress ipmchina.cn.net/ippc/index.htm
in French, 19 Jan.-30 July 2004, in Montpellier, 6-12 Jul XIX International Congress of Melbourne, Australia P.Batterham@unimelb.edu.au
France. PhD/MSc degree (formation univer- Genetics
sitaire, Bac+5) required; age under 40 (for 13-18 Jul Internship in Intellectual Property East Lansing, kmaredia@msu.edu
fellowships). Deadline: 1 July 2003. For details: Rights Technology Transfer, Use Michigan, USA
(English) secretariat.icra@wur.nl; (French) and Management
19-23 Jul BioChE-03 Boulder, Colorado, bhconf@poly.edu;
icra@agropolis.fr. Web: www.icra-edu.org.
USA www.engconfintl.org/3am.html
27-30 Jul 2003 International Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada, http://www.asae.org/meetings/
PESTICIDE FORUM Am. Soc. of Agricultural Engineers USA am2003/index.html
The 7th International HCH and Pesticides Forum, 27 Jul- Ensuring a Safe Food Supply for East Lansing, kmaredia@msu.edu
on 5-7 June in Kiev, Ukraine, is a technical forum 1 Aug the Global Community Michigan, USA
that aims to find solutions to the problems arising 29 Jul- InforAg 2003: 6th Information Indianapolis, Indiana, www.farmresearch.com/infoag
from the production and application of HCH 1 Aug Agriculture Conference USA
(hexachlorocyclohexane) and other pesticides. 9-13 Aug American Phytopathological Charlotte, North aps@scisoc.org; www.scisoc.org
For details contact Valentyna Pildisnyuk Society Annual Meeting Carolina, USA
(pidlis@carrier.kiev.ua) or visit www.hchforum. 19-22 Aug ICAS 3rd International Convention Singapore icas3sec@nus.edu.sg;
of Asia Scholars www.fas.nus.edu.sg/icas3
7-9 Sep 2003 World Fertilizer Conference Boston, vbrown@tfi.org; www.tfi.org
Massachusetts, USA
BIOTHAILAND 2003 15-19 Sep Phosphate Fertilizer Production Belgium hrd@ifdc.org; hrdu@ifdc.org;
The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Technology Workshop www.ifdc.org
Biotechnology (BIOTEC) will organize Bio- 23 Sep-2 Oct ComBio 2003 Victoria, Australia asbmb@bigpond.net.au
Thailand 2003: Technology for Life on 17-20 July 1-3 Oct International Conference on Sust- Skiathos, Greece www.wessex.ac.uk/conferences/
in Pattaya, Thailand. It will feature a trade show, ainable Planning & Development 2003/planning03/index.html
business partnering and scientific meetings. For 12-15 Oct 2003 International Conference on Houston, Texas, USA OCMS@tamu.edu
details email biothailand2003@ biotec.or.th or Agriculture Science and Technology
visit http://biothailand.biotec.or.th. 13-24 Oct Fertilizer Marketing Management Vietnam hrd@ifdc.org; hrdu@ifdc.org;
26-30 Oct Entomological Society of America Cincinnati, Ohio, USA esa@entsoc.org; www.entsoc.org
Annual Meeting
The Arnel R. Hallauer International Symposium
on Plant Breeding will take place on 17-22
August in Mexico City. For information contact 2003 IRRI GROUP TRAINING COURSES (SELECTED TENTATIVE LISTING)
Julien de Meyer, j.demeyer@cgiar.org. Web: Duration Target Date Coordinator(s)/
www.cimmyt.cgiar.org/Research/Maize/ (wk) Asst. Coordinator
symposium/breeding_0803.htm. Rodent Management 3 19 May-6 June G. Singleton/K. Heong
Two-Week Rice Production Training Course 2 Aug V. Balasubramanian
Water Management, for Philippines only 1 13-17 Oct B. Bouman
MODERN RICE FARMING Genetic Engineering and Nutrition 1 May S. Datta
The International Conference on Modern Rice Improvement in Rice
Farming will take place on 14-16 October at Alor Rice Breeding Course 2 11-29 Aug G. Atlin
Setar, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia. Co-organized Scientific Writing and Presentation 1 12-16 May A. Arboleda
by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Intensive English 1 Course (after office hours) 12 7 Jul-26 Sep A. Arboleda
Development Institute, IRRI, Muda Agricultural Intensive English 2 Course (after office hours) 3 10-28 Nov A. Arboleda
Development Authority and Malaysian Plant Intro to SAS Version 8 for Windows 1 2-6 June G. McLaren/V. Bartolome
Protection Society, the conference will consider a Intro to IRIS for Plant Breeders Training 1 11-15 Aug G. McLaren/V. Bartolome
broad range of topics, from land leveling to Advanced Experimental Design 1 10-14 Nov G. McLaren/V. Bartolome
marketing. For details visit www.mardi.my. For details, email IRRI-Training@cgiar.org.

32 Rice Today April 2003


Fight poverty where it lives


he most recent World Food sub-Saharan Millions in poverty US$ per poor person
Summit, in 1996, set the target Africa (Figure 2). 900 50
of halving by 2015 the number This conclusion 800
of people who go to bed hungry. Such holds even
rapid progress will require poverty excluding from 700 40
reduction worldwide, but especially in the calculations
Asia. Despite substantial progress in India and China,
many Asian countries over the past who by sheer size 500 30
few decades (Figure 1), Asia is still arguably threaten
home to most of the world’s poor. to skew the 400
The number of poor in rice- results. Adjusting 20
producing Asia is nearly three times the figures to 300
that of sub-Saharan Africa, the second take into account 200
largest locus of poverty (Figure 2). To how a lot of ODA 10
some extent, Asia has more poor for Africa is in 100
people than Africa simply because its the form of
population is much larger. Yet some grants, while that 0 0
key indicators suggest that the for Asia is more
Fig. 2. Number of people living in poverty and official development assistance per
incidence of poverty is worse in large often in the form person in rice-producing Asia (RPA) and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
parts of Asia than in sub-Saharan of loans, shows
Africa. For example, stunting, wasting sub-Saharan Africa receiving four %
and underweight all afflict a larger times as much aid per poor person as 50
proportion of children in south- does rice-producing Asia. SSA
central Asia (dominated by India, Africa urgently needs donor funds. SCA
Pakistan and Bangladesh) than in But, in their zeal to set Africa aright, 30
sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 3). donors should not forget that both the
Illuminating a similar picture of the incidence of poverty and its absolute 20
status of women, the proportion of numbers remain very high in Asia. It
severely underweight adult women is will be impossible to achieve broad 10
much higher in Bangladesh and Nepal progress in global poverty alleviation
than in Chad or Madagascar, the two unless Asia receives due attention. Stunting Underweight Wasting
countries in sub-Saharan Africa with For more rice facts, visit www.riceweb.org/ Fig. 3. Percentage of children suffering from stunting,
the highest prevalence of underweight ricestat/index.htm. underweight and wasting, year 2000, in sub-Saharan
adult women (Figure 4). Africa (SSA) and south-central Asia (SCA).
It seems that well-publicized
progress toward alleviating hunger Millions %
and poverty in much of Asia has 300
Number of rural poor
blinded many donors – and the public 250 in China
at large – to the poverty that remains 8
in the world’s largest continent.
Certainly the level of official 150
development assistance (ODA) 100 4
provided per poor person in rice-
producing Asia is much lower than in 2






Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Madagascar Chad Nepal Bangladesh
Indonesia, Laos, Korea (North), Malaysia,
Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Fig. 1. Number of rural poor in China, 1978-97. Fig. 4. Percentage of women (age 20–49) who are
Thailand and Vietnam. severely underweight.

Rice Today April 2003 33

grain of truth

Biotech won’t soon replace

“conventional” breeding
IRRI Plant Breeder

defining moment in the history of biology was the manipulation involves conventionally bred varieties. A
elucidation of the laws of genetics by Gregor transgenic plant is nothing more than a conventionally bred
Mendel, whose work was rediscovered and became one with a novel gene inserted into it. While the inserted
widely known in 1900. Ranking in the same category a gene may add a very important feature, it remains a small
century later must be the announcement of complete part of the genetic makeup that determines the overall
genome sequences, notably of humans and the plant attributes of the plant.
Arabidopsis. Rice has now joined this exalted company with We expect that the complete genome sequence of rice
the announcement on 18 December 2002 of the completion will greatly improve our ability to breed new rice varieties.
of a high-quality draft sequence of the rice genome. Our ultimate goal is to identify the function of each gene
Rice geneticists labored for most of the 20th century and subsequently the most favorable alleles (versions) of
to identify and map rice genes. The work hastened those genes, which we can then combine into superior rice
immensely with the advent of varieties. In the future, this technology
molecular markers in the 1990s. will allow us to trace all genes in our
However, these painstaking efforts A basic fact of applied genetic rice breeding populations. As it
resulted in a map location for perhaps becomes cheaper and more widely
a few hundred major genes and a available, it should allow us to select
similar number of genetic loci engineering is that all the best plants from the breeding
controlling quantitative traits, only a populations without extensive field
handful of which were characterized at transgenic manipulation tests. Breeders will be able to produce
the DNA level. Suddenly, we now elite breeding lines by directly
possess detailed sequences of an selecting for specific combinations of
estimated 50,000 genes that regulate involves conventionally bred alleles at the molecular level. However,
the rice plant’s development. these elite lines will still require
Parallel to this stunning progress varieties thorough evaluation by breeders, other
in molecular biology are similar agricultural scientists and, finally,
advances in our ability to introduce farmers.
genes into plants directly as DNA. The area planted to The challenges for rice breeders are immense. We have
transgenic crops rose from nil in 1995 to over 50 million a long way to go before solving the problem of abiotic stress
ha in 2001, mostly in North America. Transgenic rice is tolerance, for drought in particular. In the future, rice
under evaluation in several countries, and we should expect consumers will want varieties that are not only tastier but
commercial products to become available within a few also more nutritious. Also assuming a more important role
years. will be such environmental concerns as durable pest
One question these trends frequently raise is, “What is resistance, more efficient nutrient uptake, and the cultivars’
the future of conventional plant breeding?” First, let me point response to global climate change and pollution. Genetic
out that “conventional plant breeding” is a misnomer. Plant engineering and genomic tools will complement these rice
breeders continually reevaluate their approaches and have breeding efforts. While we may not anticipate break-
adopted a wide range of tools to make their breeding efforts throughs on a par with the yield gains of the Green
more efficient. For the sake of discussion, we will define Revolution semidwarfs of the 1960s, we can certainly expect
conventional plant breeding as hybridization without incremental progress on many fronts.
inserting transgenes, followed by field selection. One could argue that at some point we will be able to
It is true that in the early days of the biotechnology create optimum genotypes entirely in the laboratory. This
revolution one heard such comments as, “In the future, we’ll is an intriguing possibility, but I expect to see demand for
produce new plant varieties in the lab, with no need for several more generations of scientists versed in the classical
field work.” However, even the staunchest advocates of the methods of plant breeding. These breeders will have a range
new biology would now dispute this misguided idea. A basic of new tools to facilitate their work, but they should not
fact of applied genetic engineering is that all transgenic forget how to make crosses and grow field nurseries.

34 Rice Today April 2003

How rice grows


Irrigated rice grows in bunded (embanked) fields with assured water supplies Flood-prone rice areas present a range of growing conditions in both coastal
and reliable drainage, allowing farmers to maintain shallow flooding of their and inland environments that support more than 100 million Asians, despite high
fields until the crop is nearly mature. The focus of innovation during the risks and low yields. Some rice varieties tolerate being submerged for several
Green Revolution, this highly productive system, permitting up to three rice days. Deepwater rice elongates or floats to survive long inundations. Coastal
crops per year in tropical lowlands, provides more than three-quarters of the areas subject to tidal surges require rice varieties that tolerate high salt levels.
world’s rice and is therefore central to global food security. Minerals that accumulate in waterlogged soils often render them infertile.


Aerobic rice grows as a dryland crop much like wheat, usually direct-seeded Rainfed lowland rice grows in bunded fields flooded by rainfall during at
in lowlands or favorable uplands that are rainfed or have supplementary least part of the cropping season. Farmers typically grow one rice crop per
irrigation. With suitable varieties and properly managed inputs, farmers can year, followed by a minor crop if the remaining wet season permits. Some
achieve yields approaching those of conventionally irrigated fields. Aerobic rainfed lowland areas are favorable and reliably productive, but most are
rice is widely planted in rotation with pasture or soybean in Brazil and is prone to drought or flooding or both. Toxic soils, weed pressure, insect pests
increasingly being adopted in China. and diseases are common problems.


Montane lowland rice grows in bunded fields on valley bottoms or stepped Upland rice grows as a rainfed dryland crop in permanent fields — which
terraces cut into hillsides. This system, either rainfed or irrigated, is the can be sustainable if rotated with other crops — or in shifting slash-and-burn
preferred way to grow rice in the mountains, but limited availability of suitable systems that become unsustainable, especially on hillsides, as population
land means that many farmers don’t have access to enough lowland area to pressure shortens the fallow periods needed for soil regeneration. With few
feed their families. Typically, these farmers also grow upland rice to reduce inputs, upland rice yields are very low but nevertheless critical to the
or eliminate their rice deficit. household food security of some of the poorest people in Asia.

Note: Rice systems fall into categories in line with the categorizer’s focus — to a plant breeder according to conditions affecting rice plants and to an agricultural economist
Rice Today
according to farmers’ livelihood options. The categories included here are intended April 2003
to be broadly informative, not definitive or exhaustive. 35
36 Rice Today April 2003