It is with great delight that I report to you that the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) was successfully launched as the first new Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Program at the Third International Rice Congress (IRC2010) last November in Vietnam.
GRiSP marks a new era in rice science—one that outlines a path through which, for the first time, the world can better coordinate its approach to rice science. Through GRiSP, rice research agencies can pool resources, apply their expertise strategically, and collaborate even more in relation to research and its delivery to help poor rice farmers across the world.
By 2035, GRiSP has the potential to contribute significantly to lowering rice prices and reducing global poverty by more than 10%, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save more than 1 million hectares of natural ecosystems from being converted to rice production. (Read more about GRiSP in Blueprint for a greener revolution.)
With the theme Rice for Future Generations, IRC2010 was the perfect venue for the launch of GRiSP. Incredible sharing of rice research and ideas occurred and, in this issue, we feature a group of stories outlining some of the highlights and activities of the event.
Further tied into our GRiSP highlight, the Grain of Truth column features Latin America as a significant partner in the mega-program. It particularly discusses the benefits of sharing expertise and experiences to achieve the global goal of
ensuring food security for each and every person.
Africa underlines the necessity to boost local production—in not only quantity but also quality—to reduce the region’s dependence on rice imports.
Speaking of increasing production, it is well worth knowing how much yield and yield stability have improved since the 1960s as presented in the Maps section. It is interesting to note that we still have much room for improvement.
Of course, production is never without challenges. But, the important thing is how we respond to those challenges. In this issue, we take a look at the rat problem troubling the many farmers in the northern region of the Philippines. IRRI’s rodent experts, headed by Dr. Grant Singleton, take us on a journey to the Mountain Province to discover both “good” and “bad” rat species and to work with a local community to adopt practices that help reduce rat damage in rice crops.
In our continued effort to highlight countries IRRI works in, this time we focus on India.
Another country that has garnered attention is Singapore—a very urban nation dependent on rice imports. Singapore is taking on a role in raising awareness about rice—an integral part of Asia’s diet and culture. It is now also being eyed as a potential home for a rice futures exchange as mentioned in the task force report Never an Empty Bowl: Sustaining Food Security in Asia. According to Samarendu Mohanty, IRRI senior economist, a rice futures exchange is one of the essential ingredients in helping keep rice prices stable in the long term. In his Rice Facts article, Dr. Mohanty also observes that freeing up the market could help buffer the fluctuations in rice prices observed again recently.
Finally, it is a pleasant surprise to see that nine World Food Prize laureates have had a connection with IRRI—a reminder that rice science is having an impact where it really matters. We hope this continues through GRiSP and all our rice science efforts.
Deputy Director General (Research)