In honor of the late Dharmawansa Senadhira and Shouichi Yoshida, outstanding rice scientists, IRRI is calling for nominations for the Senadhira Rice Research Award and the Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award.

The award is open to (A) any rice scientist employed by a national agricultural research and extension system (NARES) linked with IRRI, or (B) a citizen of a rice-growing country in Asia.

The awards will be presented in October 2014 during the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014) in Bangkok, Thailand.


Our greatest challenge: producing more food sustainably

As the global population continues to grow toward a predicted nine billion souls by 2050, it will be humanity’s greatest challenge to produce more food to feed the world 36 years hence without wrecking the planet. This is in the face of food production systems that are rapidly changing, climate variability that is making the poor even more vulnerable, and urbanization that is drastically altering the agricultural landscape.

A science-based second Green Revolution involving an integrated global effort will be required to achieve the monumental task of ensuring food for everyone. Enter CGIAR, a global partnership that has united organizations—one of those being the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the first international agricultural research center founded in 1960—engaged in research for a food-secure future. CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources—all through targeted innovation.

An excellent example of this targeting is the very first CGIAR Research Program (CRP) launched by the Consortium Board, the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) under IRRI’s leadership.

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2014 Senadhira Rice Research Award

Dr. Senadhira leads IRRI's flood-prone rice researchIRRI established the Senadhira Rice Research Award for Asian rice scientists in memory of Dharmawansa Senadhira.

Dr. Senadhira (center in photo), who is from Sri Lanka, led IRRI's flood-prone research program from 1996 to 1998 in close collaboration with the NARES, in several key areas including soil-related stresses, low-temperature environments, and submergence tolerance in rice. He emphasized developing improved germplasm with higher concentrations of micronutrients, such as iron and zinc, in the rice grain.

In July 1998, Dr. Senadhira died in a tragic vehicular accident while on a trip in Bangladesh. To perpetuate his memory, the Senadhira family established an endowment fund to support what is now the Senadhira Rice Research Award, which consists of a plaque and a cash gift.

Any institute or university that is part of a NARES or any other research organization can nominate qualified scientists who have made outstanding contributions to rice research, e.g., successful varieties developed, scientific papers published, or other tangible contributions to the development of rice for current and future needs. Special consideration is given to achievements in the areas of Dr. Senadhira’s work—rice breeding and genetics, increasing tolerance for abiotic stresses, and improving micronutrient density.

rice farmer

Poverty is where rice is grown

Why is investing in GRiSP—now and in future —so important? In large parts of the world, people are eating 70, 80, 100 kilos or more of rice annually. The world today still has huge concentrations of poverty and most of these concentrations are where rice is grown, largely in Asia. If we want to overcome problems of poverty and hunger, rice must be part of the solution!

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2014 Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award

Dr, Yoshida on rice researchIRRI established the Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award for Asian rice scientists in memory of Shouichi Yoshida.

Dr. Yoshida was principal scientist at IRRI and head of the Institute’s Plant Physiology Department for 18 years. His primary research interests were in mineral nutrition, crop physiology, and environmental influence on the rice crop. He authored the widely used Laboratory Manual for Physiological Studies of Rice and the Fundamentals of Rice Crop Science.

The Shouichi Yoshida Memorial Fund was also established in honor of Dr. Yoshida, to perpetuate scientific excellence and concern for students, which characterized his life. His widow, Yoshiko, and daughters, Ayako and Tomoko, made the first contributions to the fund, which provides scholarships to needy and deserving students taking up bachelor of science degrees in agriculture. Fifty-five students have finished their degrees through the scholarship. Income from the fund also supports the Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award, which will consist of a plaque and a cash gift.

Any institute, university, or individual that is part of a NARES or any other research organization can nominate qualified scientists who have made outstanding contributions to rice research, e.g., through scientific papers published or other tangible contributions to rice research and development. Self-nominations will be accepted. Special consideration is given to achievements in the areas of Dr. Yoshida’s work—crop physiology, plant nutrition, or the interaction between climate and rice.

observing rice plants in the fields

Issues and activities for the global effort

  • Climate change. Weather hazards that are increasing with climate change, combined with rising sea levels, will put the high populations concentrated in coastal areas in ever-increasing danger. Research shows that 50% of rice production growth, which we enjoyed over the last quarter century, has come from these delta countries. So, we will need rice varieties that will tolerate flooding and saline soils, particularly along the coastal areas.
  • Flood-tolerant rice. More than 10 million hectares per year of rice are lost to catastrophic flooding. Even in favorable areas, there are losses to occasional floods. So, flood-tolerant rice varieties would make a great contribution. Some of these varieties are already in the hands of almost 4 million farmers, just in eastern India alone! These varieties are also moving into Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and elsewhere.
  • Rice for all seasons. Researchers’ next step was to develop rice varieties that were both flood and drought tolerant! It took us 20 years, but today, we have varieties with combined flood tolerance and drought tolerance—rice that can handle whatever the changing climate might throw at it. We need to create more!
  • Greener rice. Additional new challenges for GRiSP partners include reducing the water and environmental footprint of rice production. We are promoting climate-smart farming by scaling up and out what is called alternate wetting and drying (AWD) of rice fields. This simple and safe (for the rice) technique, which involves farmers monitoring the water levels in their fields.
  • A convergence of revolutions. GRiSP partners can now face challenges, in terms of understanding genetics, in ways that we could never have dreamed of before. IRRI’s International Rice Genebank has the world’s largest collection of rice genetic resources—more than 117,000 rice accessions and wild relatives. We can finally begin to exploit the genetic diversity of rice to meet the climate and other challenges of the future.
  • Field-specific nutrient management. GRiSP partners are introducing these tools to extension workers and farmers, which involves a significant reduction in the use of pesticides. Research has shown that most tropical rice crops under intensification require almost no insecticide use.
  • Remote sensing. Remote-sensing technology and geographic information systems (GIS) for spatial analysis can be used to monitor and evaluate agricultural systems to determine where and when (spatial and temporal) rice is grown and where crops are performing well or not.. Eventually, this will be routine across the globe.
  • Human malnutrition. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is most prevalent among young children and pregnant and nursing women. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), clinical to subclinical severe VAD affects most developing countries. The nearly 30-year history of the development of vitamin A fortified-Golden Rice is an enlightening story of vision, imagination, technological creativity, and persistence.

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Submit a nomination

Nominations must be submitted in English and should include the following: (1) name of nominee, complete address, current position, and affiliation; (2) a one- or two-page statement describing the nominee’s achievements and contributions, with an in-depth analysis of his/her work and its impact(s); (3) three letters of reference describing the nominee’s achievements and contributions, to be sent directly to the committee chair (please include full names and complete addresses, i.e., including email addresses and phone or fax numbers of the three references); and (4) a list of the candidate's most significant publications (maximum of 10).

Nominations for the 2014 award should reach IRRI by 25 September 2014 for the Senadhira Rice Research Award and  30 September 2014 for the Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award. These nominations may be sent either by email (preferred) or regular mail. Please send your nominations to:

Abdelbagi M. Ismail
Chair, Senadhira Rice Research Award Committee and Yoshida Rice Physiology Research Award Committee
Crop and Environmental Sciences Division
International Rice Research Institute
DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines

 scientists observing rice plants

Working together globally

CGIAR CRPs have accounted for US$673 million or just over 10% of the US$5.1 billion spent on agricultural research for development in 2010. The economic benefits have run to billions of dollars. In Asia, the overall benefits of CGIAR research are estimated at US$10.8 billion a year for rice, US$2.5 billion for wheat, and US$0.8 billion for maize. Developments in agricultural and environmental science, progress in government policies, and advances in our understanding of gender dynamics and nutrition are opening new avenues for producing more food and for making entrenched hunger and poverty a thing of the past.

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