Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book: Guidelines for Innovation Platforms in AR4D

Farmers in Myanmar used to pile their harvested paddy up to three weeks. Through the adaptive research trial feature of the Learning Alliance platform, farmers, extension and research staff from Myanmar were able to learn about the benefits of harvesting immediately with the use of lightweight thresher to service different farms.  Farmers have reduced, and some have stopped piling, which reduced postharvest losses up to 8% . 
Innovation platforms (IPs) provide a space for farmers, agricultural service providers, researchers, the private sector, and other stakeholders to jointly identify, analyze, and overcome constraints to agricultural development. Recognizing the need to reflect critically on how IPs can meaningfully contribute to agricultural research for development, collaborators from a number of CGIAR centers and universities have published a booklet, Guidelines for Innovation Platforms in Agricultural Research for Development.

The document provides insights from experiences with IPs in CGIAR on when such platforms would be appropriate, how they could be designed and implemented, and how their impacts should be assessed. Key issues include tailoring the composition of the platform to suit innovation objectives, mapping the costs, and finding the flexibility to adjust to changing requirements of stakeholders.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) contributed experiences from the Postharvest Learning Alliance in Cambodia and other learning alliances implemented in Myanmar through projects of ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) and LIFT (Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund), with co-funding from the CORIGAP project.

The book is available at https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/82550

Experts chart future pathways for the rice straw market in Vietnam




Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Upgrading rice value chains to make them more sustainable involves identifying new markets for the byproducts that are generated along the way. Technological upgrading in rice farming, for example, can bring in new challenges. While mechanized rice harvesting eliminates the back-breaking work of traditional harvesting, accomplishing it in a shorter time leaves even more straw to dispose of. Instead of burning the straw, developing a value chain for the straw itself can be achieved by finding new market outlets for the byproduct.

The BMZ-funded and CORIGAP co-funded project at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is looking at alternative ways of using rice straw and exploring future potential markets that can bolster its value. On 1-2 June in Ho Chi Minh, key stakeholders at an expert elicitation workshop identified market prospects for potential rice straw products.


Read more

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In Indonesia: Laser leveling of farmland steps up agricultural production

Participants in the laser leveling demonstration learn the basic principles of the technology and how to operate the equipment. IRRI’s CORIGAP project supports capacity building of NARES partners and other rice-farming sectors, such as youth, to accelerate adoption of best management practices that will support Indonesia’s national goal to achieve rice self–sufficiency.

The swampy land areas of South Sumatera, Palembang are poised to become the next rice granary in Indonesia. Recently, to step up the region’s agricultural productivity, local extension professionals, farmers, and students were trained on the use of laser-assisted land leveling and tractor driving in Palembang.

Marto Suwarno, local owner of a 3-hectare rice-corn farm and leader of Gabungan Kelompok Tani (Association of Farmers’ Group) in Mulya Sari village, pointed out a problem that he has been experiencing on his farm. “I always have uneven plant growth in my rice and corn fields, but I hope there can be a solution,” he said.

Laser leveling of the land could be that solution and it was demonstrated for the local extensionists, farmers, and students on Pak Suwarno’s farm during an event on 24-25 May. Budi Raharjo, who spearheads the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (BPTP), partnered with Pak Suwarno to illustrate the benefits of the laser leveling technology.

“After successfully conducting the land leveling during the 2-day event, Pak Suwarno will continue to plant corn and rice,” Budi pointed out. “Over the next 2 seasons, we will observe the productivity of his farm to see if there is any difference between manually leveled and laser-leveled fields.”

Caling Balingbing, postharvest and mechanization expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), presented the principles and advantages of laser-assisted land leveling and answered queries on issues related to timing and soil type. He also guided BPTP staff members on properly doing automatic land leveling on Pak Suwarno’s fields.

Read more 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017



LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—More than 50 researchers from Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines tested a web-based decision tool that calculates the sustainability of farmers’ practices  and  best management approaches in rice production. Known as the field calculator, the tool collects farmer field data and measures it against 12 sustainability indicators defined by the Sustainable Rice Platform.

“The field calculator can be used to determine whether adopting a certain technology or combination of technologies and management approaches is economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Dr. Sarah Beebout, leader of the field calculator development team of the Closing rice yield gaps with reduced environmental footprint (CORIGAP) project.

“It gives a visual summary of the technologies’ environmental, economic, and social impacts, allowing users to make sound recommendations and decisions in different locations for each planting season,” added Beebout, who is also a soil scientist at the International Rice research Institute (IRRI).

CORIGAP Phase 2 to increase yield of 500,000 rice farmers across Asia by 2020



LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—Phase 2 of the project, Closing Rice Yield Gaps with Reduced Environmental Footprint, will work to sustainably increase rice yield by 10% for 500,000 smallholder farmers in seven “rice granaries” of Asia by 2020. Called CORIGAP-PRO, this second phase is a multi-country project under the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium.

More than 45 scientists, national partners, and CORIGAP advisory committee members from seven countries gathered at the headquarters of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to launch CORIGAP-PRO, which now includes the Philippines as an “associate country.”

“This event is a platform for the project members to review the key outcomes made during phase 1 and to plan and strategize ways to achieve the targets set for the next phase,” explained Dr. Grant Singleton, CORIGAP coordinator and IRRI principal scientist.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Laser land leveling introduced to Indonesia’s tidal swamp areas to boost rice productivity

by Reianne Quilloy
(Reposted from Rice Today)

Farmers, extension workers, and students in Palembang learn firsthand the basic of laser land leveling.
(Photo by R. Quilloy)
SOUTH SUMATRA, Indonesia—“Now, I and my fellow students who came here can better help our parents in running our farms,” exclaimed Dulhamid, a high school student at a specialized agricultural school in nearby Tanjung Lago. He was enthusiastically talking about his recent attendance at a demonstration of a laser land-leveling system that could improve the productivity of rice farms in the tidal swamp areas in Palembang and other parts of Indonesia.

Twenty-four farmers, extension agents, and local students attended the demonstration, held 28-29 September. It clearly showed how the technology could become a vital tool for increasing agricultural production while reducing the cost of growing rice and thus encourage its adoption.

One of the challenges that limit farmers’ rice production in Mulya Sari and neighboring villages in Banyuasin District is their unleveled fields. Unleveled rice fields consume three times more water than leveled fields. They also suffer a 5-10% yield reduction due to uneven crop maturation and higher weed infestation. However, traditional land leveling using draft animals or two-wheeled tractors are quite laborious that still leave the field inadequately leveled.

Land leveling using the laser system is faster and more effective in ensuring an even surface. In laser-leveled fields, irrigation water reaches every part of the field thus reducing waste from waterlogging and runoff. Evenly distributed water in rice fields can also control weeds so farmers can reduce their use of herbicides.

The event was organized by Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprints (CORIGAP) project in collaboration with the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technologies (AIAT).

“Our goal at AIAT is to assess technologies being introduced and make recommendations for the government’s extension arm,” said Budi Raharjo, AIAT researcher and postharvest specialist. “This is part of our efforts to reach our national rice sufficiency goals and an initial step to introduce the laser-leveling technology in the country. It is also gaining a lot of interest in other provinces.”

Caling Balingbing, a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), conducted the demonstration and provided training on topographic field surveying and operating and maintaining a tractor.

“We want to know more about this technology and the experience of farmers in other countries, said Pak Ruwanto, a farmer from Banyuasin. “We also hope that other farmers in Indonesia can see and use this technology so we can all benefit.”

“We learned how to do the pace method as part of the topographic surveying and I was able to operate a tractor,” added Dulhamid.

During the demonstration, IRRI and AIAT introduced the concept of the Learning Alliance. This is an interactive and participatory activity that brings together different stakeholders to assess and develop ways to optimize the use of new technologies so smallholder farmers can truly benefit from them. The CORIGAP project has been using the Learning Alliance as a platform where different stakeholders with common interests can share and learn from each other’s experiences.

CORIGAP is a 4-year project implemented by IRRI and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

More Myanmar rice farmers are trying improved technologies to reduce postharvest losses

by Reianne Quilloy
(Reposted from Rice Today)


Myanmar farmers learn about improved methods for drying paddy at a recent Learning Alliance meeting.
(Photo by Christopher Cabardo)

LETPADAN TOWNSHIP, Myanmar –A project that improves the productivity and sustainability of irrigated rice systems continues to engage Myanmar farmers and other actors in using improved technologies that will protect them against postharvest losses. The new technologies are expected to help upgrade the country’s overall rice value chain.

Closing rice yield gaps in Asia with reduced environmental footprints (CORIGAP) is a project implemented in six countries to improve food security and alleviate poverty by optimizing the productivity and sustainability of irrigated rice production systems. The project uses an interactive and participatory process among farmers, scientists, extension agents, public and private sectors, and other stakeholders—known as the Learning Alliance—to conduct action-oriented research centered on improving the rice value chain for smallholder farmers.

In previous meetings with CORIGAP, most farmers in Gyoe Pin Sakhan village said it takes them 2 to 3 days to dry their rice grains under the sun, a traditional method they usually practice. While sun drying is cheap, it is also unreliable and difficult to control the temperature. They lose up to 7 baskets of paddy if they are unable to dry it to the ideal moisture content for storage. Some farmers opt to sell their paddy right after harvesting due to the lack of storage facilities and drying spaces.

U Tin Shwe is a farmer who has been participating since 2015 in CORIGAP’s Learning Alliance activities organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Myanmar’s Department of Agriculture. He learned about different drying options and decided to tap IRRI’s collaborator, the Pioneer Postharvest Development Group, to build a flatbed dryer that could provide farmers with an alternative to sun drying. Locally made dryers ensure the use of readily available materials for easier maintenance and after-sales service.

In a Learning Alliance meeting conducted on 11 September, 25 farmers expressed their interest to assess the performance of the flatbed dryer. Five farmers from the group also volunteered to dry their paddy using U Tin Shwe’s newly built flatbed dryer during the coming monsoon season in October. “We want to assess the benefits related to the use of a flatbed dryer,” one participant said. “Are we going to get a higher price for our paddy if we use the flatbed dryer?”

The farmers were also interested in using GrainSafe™ to store their grains. GrainSafe™ is a 1–ton capacity hermetic storage system that maintains grain viability.

“I appreciate the IRRI team for coming to Letpadan,” U Tin Shwe said. “We hope that IRRI continues to visit us. We are excited to see the trial results. This can pave way for more farmers getting better quality rice.”

CORIGAP activities in Myanmar are funded by the Swiss Development Agency and Cooperation. Similar Learning Alliance activities in Myanmar are also conducted in Maubin Township, through the MyRice, a project funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research.