Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vietnam: Project on closing yield gaps assesses progress in first year

Rice scientists, extension specialists, and other key partners from six countries gathered on 18-21 February 2014 to discuss the progress and plans of the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP) Project.

CORIGAP is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

“This meeting is important, as the CORIGAP Project aims to increase productivity through new technologies while diversifying sources of income,” said Le Hung Dung, leader of the Can Tho People’s Committee, in his welcome remarks.

“CORIGAP builds on the results over the past 16 years of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), through which most countries involved increased their rice production,” said Carmen Thönnissen, donor representative and SDC senior advisor with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. “The component technologies developed through the IRRC are now integrated through CORIGAP.”

“CORIGAP’s objectives are aligned closely with the mission of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) of IRRI,” said Grant Singleton, CORIGAP coordinator. “We aim to reduce poverty, improve health, and reduce the environmental footprint of rice production through strong partnerships with national agricultural research and extension systems.”

Pham Van Du, deputy director general of the Department of Crop Production of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave a presentation on the VietGAP and Small Farmer-Large Field (SFLF) initiatives of Vietnam. Participants also visited farmers’ fields involved in SFLF and in the use of rice straw for mushroom production.

Key IRRI scientists and national partners from China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam presented about their activities and results for 2013, plans for 2014, and challenges and opportunities.

Presentations also covered research progress and plans on the development of a field calculator, communication, market chain issues, postharvest issues, environmental indicators, and learning alliances.

“As CORIGAP develops, we will see more country priorities come through,” said David Johnson, GRiSP Theme 3 leader and IRRI representative on the CORIGAP Advisory Committee, during the open discussion. “This is a great chance for a science-based approach to make better changes for the future.”

The meeting was hosted by the Can Tho People’s Committee and the Can Tho Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The international advisory committee of CORIGAP also attended the meeting.

By Trina Leah Mendoza

The Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) and CORIGAP—a closely integrated partnership

Food security and environmentally sustainable production of lowland irrigated rice are a high priority in most Asian countries. Therefore, it is not surprising that several different partnerships and consortia are tackling
these crucial issues. How then does the new project, Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP), link with other different regional initiatives?

The CORIGAP Project builds on technologies and practices developed by the IRRC over the past 2 decades that aim to reduce postharvest losses (Photo by Matty Demont).
The Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) has been a flagship for promoting cross-country learning
and collaboration in Asia since 1997. The lead funding agency for the IRRC until 2012 was the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the tremendous effectiveness of the consortium across economic, sociocultural, capacity-building, and research disciplines has been objectively reviewed by Rejesus, Martin, and Gypmantasiri (see RIPPLE January-June 2013).

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), through the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), continues to provide strong support for the IRRC. SDC is now funding CORIGAP, a program of activities that builds on the platform provided by the IRRC. Other regional activities that are taking advantage of the IRRC umbrella are the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), initiatives on Good Agricultural Practices for rice (Rice GAP), new projects on rice cropping systems in Myanmar, and linkages with the Agricultural Competitiveness Project of the World Bank in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The SRP has strong stewardship from the United Nations Environment Programme and IRRI.

In Asia, the IRRC continues to play a strong role in facilitating research and development on rice-based cropping systems and, in particular, fostering cross-country learning across many scientific disciplines and development initiatives. And, CORIGAP is a new major program of research that builds on the local country partnerships and new rice production technologies developed over the past two decades by the IRRC.

In this article, we have covered many acronyms and different programs on research and development. The sea of acronyms may at first appear confusing, but the IRRC provides an effective platform for integrating many different initiatives. The IRRC platform therefore adds value and provides efficiencies through promoting partnerships across many countries and diverse partners. To try to make the interlinkages clearer, we provide a graph that shows how each of the programs/projects relates to others.

We are at an exciting phase of cooperation that strengthens regional partnerships. These cross-discipline partnerships are essential if we are to ensure regional food security over the coming decades while promoting
environmentally sustainable rice production in the food bowls of Asia.

The IRRC is not an exclusive club—it is open to whoever wishes to be part of the exciting journey that we are on. Please contact us if you wish to explore how you can become part of the team.

By Grant Singleton