The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), was established in Los Baños, Philippines in 1960. Since then we have developed many positive and productive relationships with partners in the region and across the Philippines. In doing so we have made progress towards fulfilling our mission to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure that rice production is environmentally sustainable.
There is still much that can be done towards achieving our mission and our work with our partners in Los Baños and in the Philippines will continue for many years to come.
Following a hunt throughout Asia in the 1950s Los Baños in the Philippines was selected as the most advantageous location for an agricultural research program to expand food production in Asia. It was recognized as an emerging hub of agricultural science and economics and that the government of the Republic of the Philippines was supportive of research, teaching, and extension programs to improve farm management.
Los Baños has continued to build its reputation as a center for natural resource and agricultural science since the establishment of IRRI in 1960. The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has expanded significantly, and many new institutions have made Los Baños their home including the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the Philippine Carabao Center, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
“IRRI is a valuable institution not only for the Municipality of Los Baños but also for other nearby municipalities because of the jobs it has provided to the community residents since the 1960s.” - Councilor Felix Ebron, Malinta Barangay (2010)
More than 900 people are employed by IRRI at our headquarters in Los Baños. This includes more than 800 staff recruited from the Philippines and we attract nearly 100 staff from overseas.
We also employ around 1,200 kabesilya or contract farm workers. Through this employment we support many local families and the local businesses they rely on – a significant contribution to the local economy.
Providing scientific training for Filipino students is another key element in IRRI’s work. IRRI trains more people from the Philippines than from any other country. Between 1960 and 2008 we supported the following numbers of Filipino scholars:
- Master of Science: 192
- PhD: 93
- Interns: 86
- Trainees: 1,509
Each year IRRI also supports many on-the-job trainees who come to IRRI as part of their university education to get valuable work experience in an international organization.
Riceworld Museum, the International Rice Genebank, and the other facilities at IRRI’s Los Baños headquarters receive 40-50,000 visitors a year including around 25,000 students and over 1,000 farmers.
To serve the Los Baños community beyond our rice research, IRRI is involved in a number of local community projects to help improve the livelihood of local residents, particularly those on low incomes. Projects include the donation of computers for education, emergency services training, medical missions, solid waste management seminars, and income-generating projects such as dress and toy making.
“IRRI has been a partner of the Municipal Government in improving the quality of life of Los Baños residents. Scores have benefitted from their livelihood programs and donations.”
- Los Baños Mayor Caesar Perez (2010)
To help sustain these projects and create new ones funding has been generated from the sale of IRRI waste paper, used furniture and equipment, scrap materials and other recyclables; a voluntary contribution from guests; and personal donations from staff and friends of IRRI.
Following Typhoon Ketsana (Philippine name Ondoy) that devastated the region near IRRI in September 2009, IRRI mobilized its staff to raise money and donate goods to provide for local residents suffering the worst effects.
IRRI maintains close ties with the UPLB and they are a valued partner. It is with the support of UPLB that we lease the land where IRRI Headquarters is located – our current lease extends until 2025.
IRRI shares resources with UPLB when they are needed (such as farm machinery) and donates working vehicles and scientific equipment. IRRI staff also engage with UPLB by providing advice, mentoring, and teaching to UPLB students undertaking their masters and doctorate studies. Our library is a popular resource for UPLB students. IRRI also welcomes University of the Philippines students from other campuses to IRRI for training.
“Rural development, poverty alleviation and eradication of hunger have been a shared mission of our respective institutions. We have become not just your [IRRI’s] host but your partner; you are not our guest but a valued friend; and our friendship will remain stronger as IRRI celebrates its golden anniversary.”
- Luis Rey I. Velasco, Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños (2010)
We also have a close relationship with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) – one of their sites is also co-located on the UPLB campus with IRRI. IRRI provides access to our facilities to PhilRice when it is needed including our laboratories and the International Rice Genebank.
Many IRRI innovations are tested first in the Philippines with PhilRice – such as aerobic rice, submergence tolerant rice and alternate wetting and drying techniques. PhilRice is a prominent partner in our technology delivery program and often they are the first recipients of our research. Two of IRRI’s most senior staff, Dr. William Padolina and Dr. Gelia Castillo, serve on the board of PhilRice.
IRRI is also one of 22 public and private development institutions that are members of the Los Baños Science Community Foundation Inc. (LBSCFI). LBSCFI's vision is to build a prosperous, environmentally-conscious, scientifically oriented, humane and united community, living in harmony with nature. In July 2009, IRRI participated in the LBSCFI-run science week National Science and Technology week.
- IRRI employs around 1,300 staff at its headquarters in Los Baños in the Philippines and at its other locations around the world.
- Los Baños was selected as the best place in Asia to locate IRRI due to the region's agricultural research excellence and government support.
- IRRI has many local partners in the Philippines and Filipino farmers are often first to get IRRI's new varieties and technologies.