ASEAN 50th Anniversary Celebration recognizes rice farmers and scientists

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Quezon City, PHILIPPINES (7 August 2017) - As a young boy in Grade 9 U Than Myint began farming his family’s rice plot to help his mother feed their family. He could not have imagined that several decades later he would be running his own 25.9-hectare rice farm and mentoring fellow rice farmers as the founder and patron of the Agricultural and Livestock Association of Kaytumati.


“I am happy to share my long experience as a rice farmer and the current innovations I am trying out so they can also have productive fields as well.”


U Than Myint is one of 15 leading farmers and scientists from across ASEAN awarded the ASEAN Rice Science and Technology Ambassadors Award this morning. The ceremony to honor their contribution to ensuring food security in the Southeast Asian region, took place at the Philippine Department of Agriculture, Quezon City.

Alongside U Than Myint, Dr. Hoa was one of the scientists also recognized at the ceremony. Working in Vietnam’s “rice bowl” at the Mekong River Delta, where more than 50% of the country’s rice is produced, Dr. Hoa has developed two particular rice varieties which are now widely grown across 3 million hectares in the Mekong River Delta and the southern part of Vietnam. She has won multiple awards for her work in the decades that she has dedicated to increasing food security in Vietnam. Most importantly though, Dr. Hoa has also mentored and helps educate the next generation of rice scientists at Can Tho University.

“The awardees’ hard work and commitment to increasing rice productivity in their respective locations has significantly contributed to a more food-secure region and a revitalized rice sector for Southeast Asia,” said Dr. Pham Quang Minh, Assistant Director, Sectoral Development Directorate, Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division, ASEAN Economic Community Department. “The impact of working with their respective national governments and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in developing, adopting, and promoting new and improved rice technologies and approaches has benefited millions of rice farmers and consumers,” added Dr. Minh.

“We are incredibly moved by the dedication that the awardees have displayed in their work and honoured to have been able to help them achieve their goals,” said Matthew Morell, IRRI Director General. “IRRI has a strong partnership with ASEAN and its member states. We hope this initiative inspires more conversations on the added-value of investing in breakthrough research that reaches farmers’ fields and improves their livelihoods.”

The ASEAN Rice Science and Technology Ambassadors Award is an initiative of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. It is supported by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China through the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund. Dr. Xu Bu, Ambassador of China to ASEAN, extended his congratulatory message through his representative Counsellor Li Xin from the China Mission to ASEAN.

In its inaugural year, it has been celebrated as part of ASEAN's 50th Founding Anniversary hosted by the Philippine Government. The award aims to recognize the contribution of outstanding men and women to rice farming and agriculture research, especially where it has helped smallholder farmers in the region achieve food sufficiency and increase food production.

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As part of the week-long celebration, the awardees will participate in a knowledge-sharing symposium at the International Rice Research Institute main campus in Los Banos. They will also participate in field visits to PhilRice in Neuva Ejica and the Banaue terraces.

About the Philippine Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is the principal agency of the Philippine government responsible for the promotion of agricultural development growth. In pursuit of this, it provides the policy framework, helps direct public investments, and support services needed for domestic and export-oriented business enterprises.

The DA’s mission is to help empower the farming communities and the private sector to produce adequate, accessible, and affordable food and a decent income for every Filipino. This mission guides the department in crafting its national agriculture programs implemented by the regional offices in partnership with the provincial and local government units. The DA also pursues collaborative research and technical cooperation through its national research agencies in partnership with international research and development institutions and partners to develop and boost the economic performance of the agriculture sector.

About IRRI

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations. IRRI is an independent, nonprofit, research and educational institute, founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations with support from the Philippine government. The institute, headquartered in Los Baños, Philippines, has offices in 17 rice-growing countries in Asia and Africa, and over 1,000 staff. Working with in-country partners, IRRI develops advanced rice varieties that yield more grain and better withstand pests and disease as well as flooding, drought, and other harmful effects of climate change.

About ACCF

ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund (ACCF) is a fund set up and fully funded by China and co-managed by China and the ASEAN Secretariat. The purpose is to carry forward China-ASEAN functional cooperation by promoting exchanges and cooperation between sectoral bodies of both sides and bringing about tangible benefits. Potential project proponents from ASEAN can find the Permanent Mission of ASEAN Member Sate to ASEAN based in Jakarta for further information on application as well as appraisal and approval procedures.

For inquiries, please contact:

Department of Agriculture:

Leah A. Samson
Assistant Chief, International Affairs Division
Department of Agriculture
Telephone: +63 2 920 40 86 to 87

International Rice Research Institute:

Sherwin Pineda
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications
International Rice Research Institute
Telephone: +63 2 580 5600; +63 49 536 2701-05 ext. 2392

Profile of the awardees