Public Release: 

New agreement opens avenues for strengthening Indian rice research

Short- and long-term projects promise to boost production and raise farmer income

International Rice Research Institute

New Delhi, India - An international agreement signed today (20 January 2009) between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will support and facilitate India's rice research for the next 3 years, helping the nation's rice production at a time of unprecedented price volatility and subsequent need for the revitalization of food production.

The work plan includes agreements on three major projects supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Stress-tolerant rice for poor farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA), the Cereal systems initiative for South Asia (CSISA), and Creating the second green revolution by supercharging photosynthesis: C4 rice.

STRASA aims to develop and distribute improved varieties of rice that can be grown in rainfed ecosystems, where farmers have little or no access to irrigation, and that can withstand environmental stresses such as drought, submergence, and salinity.

CSISA's 10-year goal is to produce an additional 5 million tons of grain annually and increase the yearly incomes of 6 million poor rural households by at least US$350. The initiative will employ innovative public-private partnerships for delivery of technology to farmers.

By converting rice from so-called C3 photosynthesis to the more efficient C4 photosynthesis, the C4 project aims to develop rice plants that can produce 50% more grain using less fertilizer and less water.

"The agreement will develop, promote, and accelerate rice research and training efforts between IRRI and ICAR," said Dr. Robert S. Zeigler, IRRI director general. "The renewed collaboration will also provide important support for India's other investments in agriculture and help India strengthen its science capacity."

"The work plan focuses on conserving, evaluating, and enhancing genetic resources," added Dr. Mangala Rai, ICAR director general, "as well as enhancing the productivity and sustainability of intensive cereal systems; improving productivity and livelihood for fragile environments; assessing the impact of, mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change; and strengthening linkages between research and development, including training."

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About the International Rice Research Institute

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world's leading rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines, with offices in 13 other countries, IRRI is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers supported, in part, by members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR; www.cgiar.org) and a range of other funding agencies.

About the Indian Council of Agricultural Research

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Formerly known as the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research, it was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in pursuance of the report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture. The ICAR has its headquarters at New Delhi.

For information, contact Johnny Goloyugo, IRRI, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines; tel +63-2-580-5600; fax +63-2-580-5699; email j.goloyugo@cgiar.org.

Web sites:

IRRI Home
(www.irri.org),

IRRI Library
(http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org),

Rice Knowledge Bank
(www.knowledgebank.irri.org)

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