Annual Report 2014

Director General's message

The second Green Revolution is underway!

director general robert zeiglerEstablishing a new and relevant breeding factory, deciphering the information found in 3,000 sequenced rice genomes, marketing a country’s unique indigenous “heirloom” rice varieties to the outside world, distributing climate-smart rice to reduce Asian farmers’ risks, and celebrating 150 consecutive knowledge-filled cropping seasons right here at headquarters. All of this and much, much more marked yet another banner year for IRRI.

Without doubt, both the popular and academic media were aware of our “exciting stuff” during 2014. We engaged in a heartening media blitz throughout the year to relay our important messages—be it, among others, National Geographic, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Channel NewsAsia, PBS NewsHour, and Radio Australia on the popular side or GigaScience and Springer International Publishing on the academic side.

Often in this extremely positive media exposure, I was the one in the limelight—but only as the Institute’s champion representing the hundreds of staff members doing such wonderful work. In those interviews, I tried to crystallize some critical issues for our clients, supporters, and the general public.

For example, in a Channel NewsAsia interview, I pointed out that, “climate change and the effects of increasing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere will change and make more challenging rice production scenarios in the future. Rising sea levels and rising temperatures are indeed a reality.”

In The Economist coverage, I lauded the flood-tolerant Sub1 rice varieties as the first of a new generation of seeds that are kick-starting a second Green Revolution (GR2.0). “If all goes well,” I said, “over the next few years, plants that tolerate drought, salinity, and extreme heat will revolutionize the cultivation of mankind’s most important source of calories. But that will depend on the technology working as promised and, in particular, on public policies that support GR2.0. Neither is guaranteed.”

These are messages that we need to get out to garner more support for the important research that IRRI scientists are conducting in consort with our colleagues in the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), which by the way completed a fourth successful year in its first 5-year phase in 2014. With less than one year left in my tenure as director general, this is one responsibility that I will truly miss.

Over the last 10 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed being IRRI’s chief messenger—in both good times (like the unveiling in 2006 of our comprehensive 2007-15 strategic plan, Bringing Hope, Improving Lives) and the not-so-good (the 2008 rice price crisis comes to mind). Through it all, the unprecedented progress that I have witnessed has been gratifying, energizing, and humbling.

As IRRI’s eighth director general, I cannot overstate how proud I am to have been a part of the Institute’s family and all of the “exciting stuff” that interlaces its impactful legacy.

This web version of the annual report provides all the thrilling details including our financial support.