IRRI to present 10-point action plan on rice as ASEAN agri ministers meet

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PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – In a bid to rally ASEAN members and other rice-growing countries in Asia to invest more in rice research and innovation, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will present a 10-point Action Plan to the region’s top agriculture policymakers at the annual SOM-AMAF conference to be held next week in this resort city in western Philippines.

Participating countries in the conference will include the ten ASEAN member countries - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam - plus China, Japan, and South Korea.

The 10-point Action Plan outlines policy recommendations that can be considered by the attending countries to ensure that rice remains available and affordable across the region, especially in the face of increasing challenges from climate change. The Action Plan dovetails with the ASEAN Integrated Food Security Framework and includes the ASEAN Plus 3 Germplasm Development and Breeding Initiative.

This initiative effectively creates a regional technology collaboration platform that could improve the genetic resources of rice varieties available to the ASEAN Plus 3 countries. At the same time, it enables work with on a bilateral basis to accelerate the development and deployment of climate-smart rice varieties adapted to region-specific conditions of drought, flooding and salinity brought on by climate change.

In 2013 India, Nepal, and Bangladesh entered into a similar agreement to share released rice varieties with one another.

"The agreement meant that a new rice variety released in India could just as easily be released in Bangladesh or Nepal if they wanted a similar variety and vice-versa," explained Matthew Morell, IRRI director general.

"Now is the time for ASEAN to make this commitment.” continued Dr. Morell. “The rice industry feeds over 600 million people in the region each day. A joint investment in rice breeding can achieve food security for the entire region as well as create inclusive economic growth in the rice industry."

Deliberations of the SOM-AMAF will take place from 22-26 August 2016.