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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Growing A New Green Revolution

Green Super Rice: "Growing a new Green Revolution" written by John Berthelsen.

Growing A New Green Revolution

By John Berthelsen

Growing A New Green Revolution By John Berthelsen With attention focused on rising prices and fears of food scarcity, scientists in China and the Philippines have collaborated on a new strain of rice — Green Super Rice — that is resistant to drought and pests, does not need high fertilizer inputs and can deliver huge yield increases. Too good to be true? No, this is for real, writes John Berthelsen, who spoke with the creators of the new grain.

Fifty years ago, India was on the verge of mass starvation, a looming famine that was largely stopped by the remarkable efforts of an agronomist named Norman Borlaug, who, with funding from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, would later be awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for the development of a new strain of dwarf rice called IR8.

In the ensuing decades, average global rice production per hectare rose from 1.84 metric tons to about 6 tons, keeping billions of people alive.

But once again, the crunch is on. It is estimated that for every billion people added to the world’s population, 100 million additional metric tons of rice must be produced annually.

The global population, now at 6.87 billion, is due to pass the 7 billion mark later this year — after having reached 6 billion only 12 years ago in 1999. More food will have to be produced on less land and water, with fewer people doing the work due to rapid urbanization. Moreover, agriculture will have to become environmentally friendly to be more resilient to climate change and to contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions.

Rice, which is grown on 142 million hectares in Asia alone and feeds more than 4 billion people, is once more taking center stage, this time because of a remarkable collaboration between thousands of scientists across the world led by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The result is called Green Super Rice, and it has the potential to raise rice production to an optimal 14 metric tons per hectare in China from about 6.3 tons today — without fertilizers or pesticides and using considerably less water. It is designed to flourish under the toughest growing conditions in the world.

To show how dramatic that increase is, mechanized rice production in California’s Sacramento Valley is perhaps the most productive in the world, made so through the use of massive amounts of fertilizer and pesticides on land leveled by lasers with mechanized land-planing equipment as big as football pitches. The yield is about 9.4 tons per hectare. By contrast, in Africa yields are about 1 ton per hectare. Researchers believe that Green Super Rice can increase yields in Africa by six-fold, to as much as 6 tons per hectare, says Li Zhikang, senior molecular geneticist and chief scientist with the Institute of Crop Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. Dr. Li is the father of Green Super Rice.

Dr. Jauhar Ali, a senior scientist and regional project coordinator for the development of Green Super Rice at IRRI, said the method of producing the new strains is perhaps even more important than the rice itself. That is because it has been produced through a scientific method that also can be applied to other crops, such as wheat, barley, millet or cassava, staples that feed billions of people. It can make these crops hardier and more resistant to disease and insects and cut the use of fertilizers, pesticides and water without resorting to genetic modification.

Importantly, since public institutions developed Green Super Rice, it is not subject to the onerous conditions that major seed companies like Monsanto place on farmers, including the need to buy new seeds every year. Instead, the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) will play a crucial role in disseminating both information and research. GRiSP is a network of six international centers with some 900 research, development and other partners worldwide. The roles of the partners vary from upstream research to grassroots dissemination work and political support at the elemental level.

The project also caught the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which invited Dr. Li to Seattle to speak to Bill Gates himself. “If you want us to help others, the Gates Foundation should step in,” Li remembers he told them. The result was a three-year grant of $18 million to spread Green Super Rice across the poorest parts of the world.

With the aid of the Gates Foundation, GRiSP is seeking funds to expand into seven countries across Asia and seven in Africa. Some 260 people have been trained from public and private centers, including in Africa, on the use of breeding and seed production technology and now are working to put it into the hands of farmers, much the way Borlaug and his associates did five decades ago.

Dr. Li himself embarked on a 40-day trip in early February, first to Shenzhen, where a 100-hectare rice research and testing station is to be established, then to Africa, where he was to visit Mozambique, Senegal, Mali and other countries where poverty, drought, poor farming techniques, burgeoning populations and other problems combine to keep rice yields low and rice farmers at subsistence levels.

“There are huge areas of Africa that are unexplored,” Dr. Li says. “They have all the gold in their hands and they don’t know how to use it.”

Green Super Rice itself is the result of a massive effort mostly by the Chinese government, which has poured $50 million into its development since 1998 and which involves the painstaking crossbreeding of more than 250 different potential varieties and rice hybrids with the help of rice scientists from around the planet. It is the brainchild of Dr. Li, who holds a dual position with IRRI as a molecular geneticist.

In China, the rural areas are under tremendous strain,” Dr. Li says. “We are running out of people. They are all moving to the cities. China is undergoing a tremendous transformation in the rural areas. We anticipate huge change. But China cannot continue to depend on any other country to provide food. We have to be self-sufficient.”

For China, loss of agricultural land is an acute issue, Dr. Li says. Between 1979 and 2005, rice-planting area shrank in China from 32.4 million hectares to 28.8 million as burgeoning cities ate up the land. China’s premier Pearl River Delta alone lost half of its rice land to industrialization, an average decrease of 85,000 hectares a year over the six-year period ending in 2005. Rice farming moved north and east, to areas like Heilongjiang, where weather wasn’t nearly as hospitable for a semi-aquatic plant species that originated in tropical swamps and typically consumes two to three times as much water as do other cereal grains.

“China utilizes about a third of the world’s fertilizers on 7 percent of the world’s land,” Dr. Li says. “This created a tremendous problem — surface water pollution, soil degradation. It was not going to be sustainable. Land is shrinking because of city expansion. A group of Chinese scientists said we have to reverse the trend. We proposed a new idea — high productivity and low inputs.”

It was while working on a research project in the United States that Li began to ponder the idea of how to improve many of the traits and tolerances of rice without damaging productivity. “We tried for 10 years, with great success,” Dr. Li added. “I got great support from the government.” As many as 2,000 Chinese scientists were assigned to what Dr. Li calls “the first and largest research project ever created by Chinese agricultural science. It was a vast group of scientists.”

As the team developed the improved strains, Dr. Li says, they began to think of how they would perform in the rest of Asia and Africa, where production methods are often far more primitive than they are in China, let alone the developed world. “Now we continue to improve. It is a continuous project,” Dr. Li says. “You cannot develop a product that will last forever because the environment changes.”

It has been a long, hard slog to develop Green Super Rice, Dr. Ali says. It started with the launch of an international rice molecular breeding program originally involving more than 18 countries and 36 institutions, headed by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and IRRI. However, funding dried up and it ultimately died out in all of the countries and institutions except for IRRI and the Chinese Academy.

The actual breeding process is a painstaking one that involves taking hundreds of donor cultivars from dozens of different countries, and identifying significant variations in the strength of the plants’ responses to drought, global warming and other problems. The next step is “backcross” breeding — crossing a hybrid with one of its parents or with a plant genetically like one of its parents, then screening the backcross bulk populations after one or two backcrosses under severe abiotic and biotic stress conditions to identify transgressive segregants that are doing better than both parents and the checks.

The corps of scientists examined all of the backcrosses originating from 46 recurrent parents and 500 donors and reconfirmed the results before further pooling them across different traits by the use of molecular markers to improve rice tolerance including drought, salinity, submergence, rice blast fungus, bacterial leaf blight and the ability to out-compete weeds, thus reducing the need for fertilizers.

As an indication of the complexity of the project, in one study alone, over six years, researchers backcross bred three recurrent elite rice lines and 203 diverse donors, representing a significant portion of the entire genetic diversity of the primary gene pool of rice to improve tolerances to salinity, submergence, zinc deficiency, resistance to brown plant hopper and other problems.

The ultimate product, Dr. Li said, is a tough, strong plant that can resist both drought and submergence. It can resist all known variants of blast and bacterial leaf blight, two funguses that attack rice, and thus doesn’t require fungicides or pesticides.

The famed IR8, which triggered the Green Revolution of the 1960s, could produce 5 tons per hectare under optimum growing conditions. With fertilizer and pesticides, the yield could go as high as 10 tons. But, as Dr. Li points out, so much fertilizer and pesticide was being used in China’s agricultural areas that it was wrecking the environment. IR8 was also subject to kernel breakage and initially had problems with texture, so-called mouth feel, before the problems were bred out of its successors. Green Super Rice, Dr. Li says, has the texture and taste that people want.

“Our future goal is to work together with African science people to transfer the technology. In the second phase we will work together to develop a new type of rice there,” he added. “What we have done is against nature,” he muses. “The key point is that in those poor areas, without irrigation, those varieties don’t perform well. We already improved tolerance to drought, etc., but there are limitations.”

One string of research, he says, is to go back to the original strains, before the first Green Revolution, and start over with pre-IR8 plants, to see what functions they may have had. “It is an alternative strategy. We have found some evidence that it could be productive. We will start over. Nobody can be sure that one strategy alone can work.”


GSR featured in Rice Today

Green Super Rice: A cornerstone of the Green Revolution was the new varieties. Through the efforts of Norman Borlaug, the father of the first Green Revolution, IR8 rice variety in IRRI is a successful story. Green Super Rice, a collaborative project between IRRI and CAAS, funded by Bill Melinda Gates Foundation aims to develop rice varieties their stable, sustainable yield potential even when under unfavorable enviromental conditions. "Through GSR technology, it is possible to realize the highly efficient use of germplasm resources while promoting sustainable agricultural development and protecting the environment for future generations,” Dr. Li said.

Fears of food shortages following the rice crisis in 2007 and 2008 have prompted a dramatic shift in global trade and in economic and food security policies. Nations have put more focus now on agriculture—a situation somewhat reminiscent of the events that led to the Green Revolution.

A cornerstone of the Green Revolution was the new varieties of cereal crops developed through the efforts of Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution. One of those varieties is IR8 rice, also known as “miracle rice,” developed 40 years ago at the International Rice Research Institute. When grown with irrigation and nitrogen-rich fertilizers, IR8 produced more grains than traditional varieties. IR8 changed the world food situation according to Tom Hargrove, a former communicator at IRRI. Indeed, the looming famines did not materialize since miracle rice was introduced, as well as other food varieties (see Breeding history on pages 34-38 of Rice Today Vol. 5, No. 4).

The high price of a miracle

Modern rice varieties can yield significantly more than traditional rice varieties, but they require more nutrients in order to achieve their maximum yield potential. But, the heavy use of chemical fertilizers can place a toll on the environment. Commercial fertilizer to provide nutrients can be an additional cost to farmers if not used strategically such as through site-specific nutrient management (SSNM).

During the Green Revolution, global use of pesticides rapidly increased to protect crops. But, excessive and indiscriminate pesticide use can adversely affect ecosystems and human health.

Agricultural irrigation, another leg on which the revolution stands, has also come under fire. Many experts believe that the global water supply is dwindling fast. Additional pressure from climate change, population growth, pollution, and higher industrial requirements is also contributing to a possible massive water crisis.

An environment-friendly revolution

Can the world survive without the intensified agricultural practices espoused by the Green Revolution?

Green Super Rice (GSR) for the Resource-Poor of Africa and Asia, a collaborative project between IRRI and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), offers a sustainable way of producing food for the growing population. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the project aims to develop rice varieties that retain their stable, sustainable yield potential even when grown with fewer inputs or under unfavorable environmental conditions.

Green super rice

Headed by Zhikang Li, IRRI molecular geneticist who is based at CAAS, the GSR project’s breeding technology radically departs from the original approach of the Green Revolution, in which everything else took a back seat to higher yield.

Because modern varieties have been bred to respond to the best possible field conditions, they do not reach their maximum yield potential when nutrients, pest management, and water are not optimal. For example, IR64, developed at IRRI and released in 1985, became one of the most popular rice varieties in the world due to its high yield. But, this variety is significantly affected by drought. Through the GSR project, plant breeders have developed rice plants that are drought-tolerant but still have the desirable traits of IR64.

After 12 years of rigorous breeding, GSR researchers learned that by subjecting a large number of backcrossed second-generation lines (BC2F2) and their succeeding generations to biotic and abiotic stresses, they could eliminate weak lines and identify promising transgressive segregants, which are lines that exceed the performance range of their parents under extreme conditions.

A new approach to standard breeding technology

In the past, breeders at IRRI used only three recurrent parents, IR64, Teqing, and IR68552-55-3-2, a new plant type variety backcrossed with 205 donor parents. However, the GSR concept, which was well received and expanded in China under the China National Rice Molecular Breeding Network, uses 46 recurrent parents. Crosses were made with 500 donors, resulting in a bigger pool of available genes—each of which has also been submitted for complete genome re-sequencing to further strengthen the molecular breeding efforts of the GSR project.

Doing more with less

Rather than focusing on developing one variety for all, GSR can be custommade to fit any target ecosystem. For example, GSR varieties can grow rapidly to compete strongly with weeds. Because they establish themselves much faster than the weeds, herbicide—a luxury for poor farmers—becomes unnecessary. These weed-tolerant GSR varieties performed well in field trials in Bangladesh and are now undergoing further testing.

Furthermore, the project has also identified drought-tolerant GSR lines with IR64 as the recurrent parent. For example, IR83142-B-19-B, a GSR line, performs better than Sahbhagi dhan under drought and zero-input (which means no fertilizers and no pesticides, and only one manual weeding) conditions. (See Making rice less thirsty.)

Re-packaging agriculture In 2009, field trials conducted in Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China showed several GSR varieties with different promising traits. Seeds of 56 GSR varieties with multiple resistance to rice blast, rice planthoppers, and gall midge were distributed to the GSR trial countries for more thorough evaluation.

Some 106 GSR varieties are now ready for seed exchange and germplasm distribution through the International Network for the Genetic Evaluation of Rice. These “finished products” include GSR materials that are drought-tolerant and suitable for rainfed lowlands, and inbreds and hybrids with multiple disease and insect pest resistance. GSR-IRRI also released drought-tolerant, salinity-tolerant, submergence-tolerant, and high-yielding varieties suitable for irrigated conditions.

The GSR project also promotes environment-friendly production technology such as SSNM (see Specific benefits on pages 32-33 of Rice Today Vol. 3, No. 4 and Management made easy on pages 32-33 of Rice Today Vol. 7, No. 4) and integrated crop management (ICM) to go with GSR varieties.

SSNM provides information based on simple observations that enable rice farmers to tailor nutrient management to specific field conditions and optimally supply rice with essential nutrients at the right time (see Balancing fertilizer use and profit on page 38 of Rice Today Vol. 7, No. 1). ICM is a crop production system based on a good understanding of the interactions between biology, environment, and land management. It aims to ensure food production that conserves and even enhances natural resources.

Sowing greener alternatives

In recent years, rice scientists have been forced to face the additional challenge of balancing food security with preserving natural resources and protecting the environment. For IRRI, the key is a doubly green revolution: the development and diffusion of conventional environment-friendly agricultural practices and innovative varieties such as GSR. (See The Doubly Green Revolution in Rice).

“I strongly believe that, through GSR technology, it is possible to realize the highly efficient use of germplasm resources while promoting sustainable agricultural development and protecting the environment for future generations,” Dr. Li said.

Jules Pretty, professor and pro-vice-chancellor of environment and society at the University of Essex in Colchester, England, as well as author of several books on agricultural sustainability, agrees. Productive and sustainable agricultural make the best of crop varieties and their agroecological and agronomic management, he said. “This new initiative from IRRI on GSR is welcome as it fits these conditions and needs.”


GSR project presented at the 3rd International Rice Congress in Hanoi

Green Super Rice: The International Rice Congress (IRC) is world's largest gathering of the rice industry. The GSR project presented at the 3rd International Rice Congress in Hanoi. Presentations were given by Dr Zhikang Li, Dr Shaobing Peng, Dr Casiana Vera Cruz, Dr Jauhar Ali, Dr Lijun Luo, Dr Yongming Gao and Dr Haodong Chen.

Attendees were (front row in photo) Nguyen Van Bo, president, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences and IRC2010 co-chair; Marcel Ewals, managing director, AsiaCongress Events (ACE) and IRC2010 co-chair; Lala Baldelovar, project manager, ACE and IRC2010 secretariat; Vice Minister Bong, who is also executive chair of the IRC2010 steering committee; T.P. Tuong, principal scientist, IRRI and IRC2010 chair, and Michael Jackson, former PPC director, IRRI and IRRC28 chair. In the second row are Duncan Macintosh, director, Development Office, IRRI and member IRC2010 OC; Bui Chi Buu, director general, Institute of Agricultural Science for South of Vietnam and member of the IRRC28 committee; Nguyen Tan Hinh, deputy director general, Science, Technology and Environment Department, MARD and member of the IRRC28 Committee. (Photo:IRRI)

The International Rice Congress (IRC), held every 4 years, is the world's largest gathering of the rice industry—the industry that feeds more than half the world.

The 3rd IRC (IRC2010) will include the 28th International Rice Research Conference, the 3rd World Rice Commerce Conference, the 3rd International Rice Technology and Cultural Expo, and 50th anniversary celebrations of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Hanoi also celebrates its 1,000th anniversary in 2010.

With the theme Rice for Future Generations, IRC2010 will be a forum for representatives from the public and private sector including researchers, scientists, professionals, traders, and policymakers to discuss the latest in rice research, future technologies, trade issues, and policies that will define the future role of rice in supporting the poor rice-dependent communities.

The event is being hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam (MARD) and will be held at the Vietnam National Convention Center in Hanoi. It is jointly organized by IRRI and AsiaCongress Events Management Co. Ltd (ACE).
MARD will also host the 3rd Ministerial Round Table Meeting comprising of all agriculture secretaries or ministers of major Asian countries.


More than 1,700 top rice scientists, researchers, policymakers, and industry representatives from 66 countries around the world are gathering in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi for the 3rd International Rice Congress on November 8-12. The GSR project was privileged to host a 3-hour workshop in the congress.

Presentations were given by Dr Zhikang Li, Dr Shaobing Peng, Dr Casiana Vera Cruz, Dr Jauhar Ali, Dr Lijun Luo, Dr Yongming Gao and Dr Haodong Chen.


IRC 2010 organizing committee meets in Hanoi

The fifth meeting of the organizing committee (OC) for the International Rice Congress 2010 (IRC2010) was held on 19-20 August at Silk Path Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The meeting was attended by OC members from various institutions under Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), IRRI, and Asia Congress Events Co, Ltd. Attendees reviewed progress in the last three months and discussed action plans before the Congress commences.

During the meeting, the committee had the opportunity to meet MARD Vice Minister Bui Ba Bong. The committee gave Vice Minister Bong a progress update on the preparations for IRC2010, for which he congratulated the committee.

IRC2010 is the third and is held every four years. It is the world's largest gathering of the rice industry, which feeds more than half the world. With the Theme Rice for Future Generations, IRC2010 will b forward-looking.

The core of IRC2010 is the 28th International Rice Research Conference (IRRC28). IRRC28 will showcase 140 oral presentations and more than 660 posters in 14 scientific themes; and 82 presentations in 11 symposia of various topics. IRC2010 also commemorates IRRI's 50th anniversary and will see the inauguration of the International Rice Policy and Investment Conference.


GSR Training Workshop on Plant Molecular Technique held in Beijing

Green Super Rice: GSR training workshop on Plant Molecular Techniques held at CAAS in Beijing China. The workshop was a combination of lectures and pratical use of QTL mapping and statistic softwares.

GSR Training workshop on Plant Molecular Technique was successfully held between August 30th to September 10th, 2010 at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing China.

Delegates from thirteen countries participated this 2-week intense workshop. The workshop was a combination of lectures and practical use of QTL mapping and statistic softwares. Participation to the ICPMB conference (International Conference on Plant Molecular Breeding) was part of the program, where the delegates could interact and hear the presentations of the most up-to date molecular science from world-renowned scientists of this field.

There were two outings held- one time to the Great Wall of China and another outing to the Forbidden City. During this two-week in Beijing, delegates have stayed at the CAAS guest house, where many local facilities could be easily accessed. Some delegates also experienced the use of local subway.

Valuable feedbacks were received from the delegates. Their opinion would greatly help us to refine our future training course.

GSR Asian Annual Meeting in Wuhan, 8-9 April, 2010

Green Super Rice: The GSR project held in Wuhan, China.

The GSR project held its Asian Annual Meeting on 8-9 April 2010 in Wuhan, China.

It was attended by Chinese rice scientists and governmental officials, scientists from IRRI and AfricaRice, NARES collaborators, and the GSR project consultants.

The objectives of the meeting are 1) to review the progress and accomplishments of research activities across Asia; 2) to assess the promising GSR materials and their performance in NARES countries; 3) to identify the areas where improvement is needed; 4) to prepare a proper work plan for achieving the next set of milestones; 5) to identify new areas of research that may be in the interest of the collaborating partners; and 6) strengthening the GSR research activities and program for possible extension to the second phase.

The welcome and opening remarks were given by the top officials from the government of China, Huazhong Agricultural University, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and IRRI.

The first day of the meeting includes the updates and accomplishment reports from the scientists from China, IRRI, and NARES of South and Southeast Asia. The first-day meeting was held on the campus of Huazhong Agricultural University.

The second day of the meeting was held in Xiongchu International Hotel. The morning session was for the planning the next-year research activities of the NARES collaborators. In the afternoon session, research planning was done among the Chinese institutes, universities, and seed companies.


Molecular Training Course- Africa Rice Center, Benin Mar 29, 2010

Green Super Rice: A regional training workshop ogranized by Afica Rice to upgrade the capacity of plant breeders from research centers and universities to use research methodologies applied in MAS.

A regional training workshop organized by Africa Rice jointly supported through its Green Super Rice (GSR) project and CORAF/WECARD Project on “Research methods in marker-assisted selection (MAS)” was held in Cotonou, Benin, from 29 Mar to 3 Apr 2010. MAS is a tool that allows the direct application of molecular marker to make plant breeding programs easier and more efficient.

The aim of the workshop was to upgrade the capacity of plant breeders from research centers and universities of 12 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda) to use research methodologies applied in MAS. Africa Rice and IRD experts served as resource persons for the workshop.

The workshop, which included theoretical and practical sessions, helped the participants gained a better understanding of the importance of molecular markers in breeding. Participants were able to learn various practical techniques relating to DNA extraction, PCR reactions, thermal cycler programming and amplification, PCR product separation on agarose and polyacrylamide gels, gel staining, date scoring and interpretation.

The participants highlighted the importance of forming a network that will enable them to exchange information on MAS-related research activities in the participating countries. They also pointed out the importance of establishing functional biotechnology laboratories in their countries and regional supply system to facilitate procurement of laboratory material.

GSR-STRASA Linkage-Strengthening Workshop 23 November 2009

Green Super Rice: The green super rice and stress tolerence rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA)project held a workshop at IRRI headquarters

The Green Super Rice (GSR) and Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) projects held a joint workshop titled Strengthening linkages on the ground for GSR-STRASA activities in Africa and Asia on 23 November at IRRI headquarters.

The workshop aimed to strengthen the linkage between the two BMGF-funded projects, identify common grounds for active cooperation in both Africa and Asia, identify approaches to realize the outputs as envisioned in the project on the ground, and ensure sound ways for timely reporting from cooperators.

The workshop was attended by about 40 participants from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, NARES of STRASA, AfricaRice, and IRRI.

Zhikang Li, GSR project director, and Bas Bouman, Program 2 leader and CESD head, formally opened the workshop. A welcome message was given by IRRI DDG-R Achim Dobermann. In the morning, the first discussion was on updates for the Asia component. Abdelbagi Ismail presented for STRASA while Jauhar Ali presented for GSR. For the Africa part, Baboucarr Manneh, AfricaRice scientist, presented STRASA updates and Eklou Attiogbevi-Somado presented GSR updates. Raafat El-Namaky, the new GSR Africa Coordinator, was also introduced.

In the afternoon session, discussions were on ways to strengthen linkages and practical steps to improve coordination and identify modes for regular reporting for the two projects.

Engr. Eugene Castro, associate scientist from IRRI Training Center, presented on the seed training conducted in East and southern Africa in September 2009. There was also a 20-minute conference call with David Bergvinson of BMGF after the discussion proper. The practical steps and mechanisms identified to improve coordination for both projects were management and coordination, research materials sharing, training and capacity building, and seed upscaling.

Monday, May 2, 2011

GSR Hybrid Rice Seed production training course in Vietnam

GREEN SUPER RICE: Dr Changxian and Dr Jauhar Ali had the series of short course training on hybrid rice seed production kick-started in Vietnam.

Dr Changxian Mao (back row, third left) and Dr Jauhar Ali (back row, forth left) at the building of Vietnamese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

The series of short course training on hybrid rice seed production kick-started in September 2009. Vietnam being the first stop of the training course proved to be successful. More than 30 local scientists and breeders attended the 5-day course which was held in Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The program of the course is downloadable under the Publication section.

Facilitator Dr Changxian Mao and Dr Jauhar Ali will be delivering the course of the same topic to the other six target countries.


Changsha Minister Forum 10-12 September 2009

GREEN SUPER RICE: Dr ZhikangLi, the director of the GSR project, was invited to present the current hybrid rice techonology in China. A Ministerial forum was held between September 10 -12 in Changsha, Hunan province.

The “Green Super Rice” project was presented to audience comprised of international diplomats and ministerial officials in the light of introducing the project to the government official level.

A Ministerial Forum on the topic of Foreign Cooperation in China’s Hybrid Rice, co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and the Hunan Provincial People’s Government, was held between September 10 and 12 in Changsha, Hunan province.

The Forum focussed on three topics: 1) Hybrid rice technology and world food security, 2) International investment and cooperation in agriculture and 3) China’s foreign aid agricultural technology demonstration centre for sustainable development. Dr Zhikang Li, the director of the GSR project, was invited to present the current hybrid rice technology in China, in particular, Dr Li spoke of the mega international project “Green Super Rice” which utilizes hybrid rice technology to achieve the project’s charitable goal of aiding food security.

The forum was attended by ministerial-level officials from Africa, Asia, Latin America and other 18 countries. Diplomatic envoys to the countries concerned, FAO, the World Food Program and other international organizations, representatives of the countries concerned, ministry officials, relevant agencies, business representatives and rice research experts from more than 100 participants also attended.


Progress Monitor- Beijing, China 7-9 September 2009

GREEN SUPER RICE: Dr Jauhar Ali, the GSR coordinator of Asia, has been visited to CAAS in Beijing.

Dr Jauhar Ali, the GSR coordinator of Asia, reported to Dr Zhikang Li and Dr Shaobing Peng the progress of the GSR project in currently conducting in Asia.

During his visit, Dr Ali reported the results of the first and second adaptation trials conducted in IRRI and in various Asia NARES respectively. Dr Ali has been traveling extensively to those Asia target countries between July and August 2009 to monitor the growth of the GSR lines. Dr Ali reported the strength and weaknesses of the existing infrastructures in the target countries, the cultural differences and suggestions of improvements. These information would help the GSR team greatly to design experiments that will be more specific to the countries’ needs.

From October 2009 onwards, Dr Jauhar Ali and Dr Chang-Xiang Mao of the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences will travel to Vietnam, Pakistan, Laos and Sri Lanka to deliver short course trainings on the topic of hybrid rice seed production.


Progress Monitor- Yunnan province 8. 2009

GREEN SUPER RICE: Yunnan province is one of the four GSR target provinces of China. Chinese scientists visited the trial station in this province in August 2009.

Yunnan province is one of the four GSR target provinces of China. The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Vietnam. Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with high elevations in the northwest and low elevations in the southeast, and it is for this reason that the GSR aims to breed rice varieties that can adapt to the special ecological nature of Yunnan province.

In August 2009, Chinese scientists from the GSR project visited the trial station in Yunnan province to inspect the progress of adaptation trials that are currently conducting.


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