IRRI to ASEAN: Science supports 10-point action plan on rice

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20160825 SOM AMAF
Photo by DA-AFID

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines (23 August 2016) - At the annual gathering of ASEAN’s top agriculture policymakers taking place this week in Palawan, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will showcase tools, practices, and expertise that could help countries cope with the effects of climate change and strengthen food security in the region.

IRRI’s involvement in this year’s Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF) and their counterparts from China, Japan, and South Korea (ASEAN Plus Three) allows the institute to highlight its work with the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA)—a successful partnership that has evolved stoutly into the country’s own national rice sector strategy, with IRRI providing technical assistance.

Work under this collaboration among the DA, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and IRRI are featured in a ‘marketplace’ exhibit that will open afternoon of August 24 as a side event of the SOM-AMAF. The exhibit will feature:

  • next-generation high-yielding and climate-smart rice varieties;
  • high-value heirloom rice varieties;
  • Rice Crop Manager, a web-based tool that provides farmers with location-specific farming advice; and
  • Philippine Rice Information System or PRISM, a satellite-based forecasting and crop modeling system for rice—the first of its kind in Asia.

"The Philippines gets as many as 20 typhoons in a year; PRISM, for instance, is invaluable to us," said Eduardo Quilang, deputy executive director of PhilRice. "Through PRISM, we can monitor the growth status of a rice crop and estimate attainable yields based on crop growth models, as well as in the event of extreme weather conditions such as flooding or drought."

“When policymakers have more accurate information about these things, they can better plan for disasters or make better decisions during such times," Dr. Quilang said further.

PRISM is one of seven projects of the rice component of the Philippines’ food security strategy that IRRI has implemented with the Department of Agriculture (DA) over the past 3 years. Investment by the Philippine government in rice science innovation has benefited farmers by improving their livelihood and equipping them with better rice varieties, knowledge, and management practices.

“Making the ASEAN food-secure will require regional collaboration and the Philippines has already made great strides,” said Bruce Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnerships.

“The scientific innovations on display here today, plus the 10-point Action Plan on Rice presented earlier, are a viable mechanism for regional collaboration to achieve food security in the region through sharing of genetic resources and improved rice varieties among countries, as well as supporting the development of the new generation of Asian rice scientists,” Dr. Tolentino added.