50 years of international rice research
This year the International Rice Research Institute - IRRI - based in Los Baños, Philippines, is celebrating its 50th birthday. To mark this anniversary Dr Achim Dobermann, research director of IRRI, provided an overview of global rice research in the 21st century at the "Tropentag", an annual international conference on tropical and subtropical agricultural research held in Zürich, Switzerland in September 2010. Rice farming has an annual value of over 150 billion US dollars and directly or indirectly affects over 2 billion people who either depend on rice as their food staple or are involved in its production. Rice is often the only food that 400 million of the chronically hungry have to eat, reported Dr Dobermann.
Rice is not only the staple food of Asia, it is also rising in importance in Africa and Latin America. According to the IRRI research director, international rice research has adapted to this rend. IRRI, the African Rice Center in Benin and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia have joined forces under the umbrella of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) with the aim of improving rice productivity in changing environmental, economic, demographic, and social landscapes. The resultant research efforts will be reflected in the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), one of CGIAR's mega-programmes for the next century.