Monday, 11 November 2013

More rice for Africa, target of new research hub

More rice for Africa, target of new research hub

Fast facts
 
  • IRRI has opened its new Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office in Bujumbura, Burundi.
  • The office will serve as a regional rice research hub to help support the development of the rice sector in Africa.
  • Research will focus on developing new rice varieties matched to the different growing ecologies in Africa and to meet consumer preferences. 
Media contact
Gladys Ebron
g.ebron@irri.org
+63 2 580 5600 ext 2587
+63 917 596 4360
Burundi has turned its rice research capacity up a notch to improve food security in Eastern and Southern Africa by establishing a regional rice research and development hub with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
IRRI-ESA office
IRRI's Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, opened on 30 October 2013.   
In his speech at the official opening of the new Robert S. Zeigler building that will house IRRI’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, First Vice-President of Burundi His Excellency Bernard Busokoza stated that the government strongly supports further collaboration between IRRI and Burundi to improve the region’s rice production and support the fight against food insecurity.
First Vice-President Busokoza said that the Government of Burundi and IRRI share the same vision: to provide sustainable methods of growing rice to improve the well-being of rice producers and consumers, to reduce poverty and preserve the environment.
The new regional office will focus on developing and testing new rice varieties matched to the different rice production ecologies across Eastern and Southern Africa. To support IRRI’s activities, First Vice-President Busokoza also announced that the government has granted IRRI use of a 10 hectare plot of land at Gihanga for its rice research.
Key government, IRRI, and AfricaRice officials attended the inauguration of the regional office that was held on 30 October 2013, as part of the IRRI Board of Trustees meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The new building was named after IRRI’s current director general, Dr. Robert S. Zeigler.
“This is truly an honor for me,” said Dr. Zeigler, during the unveiling of the building plaque.
Zeigler was recognized for his many years of work in development agriculture as a scientist and research leader in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the United States. He also served as a technical adviser in the maize program at Burundi’s Institute of Agronomic Sciences in the 1980s and was instrumental in the arranging the first IRRI-Burundi Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in 2008.
“I’m very optimistic that this new regional hub will substantially contribute to the development of the rice sector in Eastern and Southern Africa, and build our collaboration with our partners in Burundi and the greater region,” Zeigler added.
Interim director general of AfricaRice Dr. Adama Traoré also attended and highlighted the importance of Asia-Africa knowledge exchange that has been made possible by the CGIAR Research Program on Rice, known as the Global Rice Science Partnership.
DG with BOT chair First VP  Minister of Agriculture and Livestock
Opening the new rice research and development hub:
Dr. Robert Zeigler, Dr. Emerlinda Roman, and
First Vice-President Busokoza (lt to rt).   
 
Also attending were Burundi’s Ministers of Agriculture and Livestock; Higher Education and Scientific Research; Finances and Development Planning; and External Relations and International Cooperation.
IRRI’s deputy director general for research Dr. Achim Doberman highlighted areas where IRRI can contribute to rice research and development with the substantial support of stakeholders.
“With advances in technology, we can expedite the breeding process to ensure new rice varieties are available every year for the region,” said Dobermann. “It is our vision for Burundi to become a leading regional hub for excellent, high yielding, rice varieties that also have good grain quality.”
IRRI and the Burundian government started collaborating in 2006 through the initiatives of Dr. Joseph Bigirimana, who is now the IRRI Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa. The first joint project with CARE Burundi was established in 2010, with support from the Howard Buffett Foundation, totrain ex-combatant women in rice production.
In 2011, two IRRI-bred rice varieties, Vuninzara (IR77713) and Gwizumwimbu (IR79511), which were developed especially for Burundi, were released. Farmers rank these varieties higher in grain quality of unmilled, milled, and cooked rice than previously popular varieties. IRRI is also sharing rice breeding lines with Burundi that are being tested at a number of IRRI field sites around the country.

From rice genetics to better rice, top research showcased

From rice genetics to better rice, top research showcased

Join the livestreaming of
Let's talk GM rice

 
the media event of the 
7th International Rice Genetics Symposium

5 Nov, 12:00 - 13:30
Philippine time (+8 GMT)

Join the conversation
@RiceResearch#ricegenetics7
Media contact
Lizbeth Baroña-Edra
l.barona@irri.org
+63 2 580 5600 ext 2587
+63 917 596 4360
The world’s leading experts in rice genetics – the science that brings us better rice varieties – are meeting in Manila, 5 - 8 November,  for the 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium (RG7).
rg7 vertical banner for web


Organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and managed by Kenes Asia, RG7 will be a hotbed of discussion on issues relevant to the science of rice genetics and how it can be used to improve food security.
“Rice is an incredibly special crop providing more than half of the planet with food every day,” said Dr. Eero Nissilä, head of IRRI’s Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division and convenor of RG7. “Importantly, for plant breeders, rice has an extraordinarily diverse genetic resource base that spreads across at least 24 different species of rice.”
“Scientists at RG7 are sharing the latest innovations that help us understand all this genetic diversity and capture it to breed new rice varieties,” he added.
 An understanding of rice genetics is behind the development of rice varieties that can resist, for instance, different abiotic stresses such as floods, drought, and salinity. These “stress-tolerant” rice varieties are grown by millions of farmers all across Asia and the world.
Current rice genetics research not only seeks to further improve these rice varieties, but also to break new ground in developing rice that has higher yield potential, as well as healthier rice that is more nutritious.
The current and most ambitious research in rice that will be shared at RG7, is C4 rice. This research aims to improve rice's photosynthesis to make it more productive and efficient in using resources like water, light, and nutrients. 
“The people who contribute to the world's food security are coming to Manila to share the latest scientific breakthroughs that could help solve global challenges relating to food security and climate change,"  said Nissilä.
 As part of RG7, journalists are invited to participate in a media event on 5 November called “Let’s talk GM rice” that will bring together RG7 experts to answer questions on rice genetics and genetically modified (GM) rice.
"Let's talk GM rice"  is by invitation only as we have limited space, but everyone is welcome to please join the live stream of "Let's talk GM rice"  that will commence at 12noon (Manila time , +8GMT). Questions from online participants will be encouraged via#ricegenetics7 and to @RiceResearch on twitter.