The Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) was created in 1997 with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to provide a venue for linkages among national agricultural research and extension systems, government agencies, nongovernment organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector.
After 16 years (1997-2012), a meta-impact assessment of the IRRC shows that the US$12 million investment in rice research by the SDC has returned more than $70 million in benefits to rice farmers and national economies in 4 of 11 countries where the IRRC has had collaborative research.
The IRRC continues as a partnership mechanism in GRiSP and serves as a platform for several projects, including the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP). The CORIGAP Project will develop best management platforms to underpin the certification of farmers who implement good agricultural practices for rice or Rice GAP.
Irrigated rice—the food of billions
Nearly 90% of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia. More than 70% of Asians—about 2.7 billion rice farmers and consumers—depend on the sustainable productivity of the irrigated rice ecosystems for their supply of food.
Irrigated rice is planted in half the world’s rice fields (about 135 million hectares), and produces 75% of the world’s rice supply. Irrigated rice is consequently the most important agricultural ecosystem in Asia, producing the most food to feed the most people. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 444 million tons of rice was consumed worldwide in 2008. By 2050, this is expected to rise by 50%.
Increased rice production must come primarily from higher yields on a shrinking land area in the irrigated and favorable rainfed lowland ecosystems. And this rice will need to be produced with less water, less cost, and probably less available labor. The development and delivery of natural resource management technologies to improve the production of irrigated rice in an ecologically sustainable manner is essential.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), through the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), continues to provide strong support for the IRRC. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is now funding CORIGAP, a program of activities that builds on the platform provided by the IRRC. Other regional activities that are taking advantage of the IRRC umbrella are the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), initiatives on Good Agricultural Practices for rice (Rice GAP), new projects on rice cropping systems in Myanmar, and linkages with the Agricultural Competitiveness Project of the World Bank in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The SRP has strong stewardship from the United Nations Environment Programme and IRRI.
In Asia, the IRRC continues to play a strong role in facilitating research and development on rice-based cropping systems and, in particular, fostering cross-country learning across many scientific disciplines and development initiatives. And, CORIGAP is a new major program of research that builds on the local country partnerships and new rice production technologies developed over the past two decades by the IRRC.
For more information, contact:
Ms. Jean Claire Dy
Senior Specialist, Communication