IRRI South East Asia NARES and AFACI Member Countries convene to identify  promising rice varieties for future release

(Los Baños, PHILIPPINES, 11 September 2023) - In collaboration with the Rural Development Administration and the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI),  Philippine Department of Agriculture, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) hosted the first joint meeting between the IRRI Breeding Team and South East Asia national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) and AFACI-member countries on 5-6 September 2023 to identify promising rice varieties for target environments.

More than 70 key stakeholders from AFACI member countries and NARES partners of the Philippines’ OneRicePH Project gathered at IRRI headquarters in Los Banos to discuss the outcome of joint testing of elite breeding lines from IRRI’s breeding pipelines conducted by AFACI and NARES partners in 2022.

The activity aimed to identify promising elite lines for advancement to stage 2 testing, with the ultimate goal of nominating the best breeding lines in the national variety release system in partner countries. It also presented the progress of the project and mapped out the future of rice breeding innovation.

Key topics discussed during the meeting focused on IRRI’s OneRice Breeding Strategy to develop and disseminate better products faster through its 11 active market-driven breeding pipelines that shares materials with early, medium and late maturities including elite lines for stress ecosystems: drought, salinity and submergence; approaches and tools to modernize rice breeding and shorten breeding cycles; and information on the potential of a Global Biotic Stresses Monitoring and Screening Network (BioNET) to map and manage pest and disease movement and outbreaks in South East Asia.

Planning sessions also addressed breeding analytics, data management strategy, and the capacity-development needs of NARES to ensure a comprehensive approach to enhancing collaboration in breeding and product development.

“This collaborative meeting shows the commitment of these organizations and countries to advancing rice breeding practices,” said Shalabh Dixit, lead of the Early Maturity and DSR Breeding Pipelines at IRRI. He emphasized how this pioneering partnership would continue to yield results that would benefit farmers and communities across Asia.

This marks a pivotal moment towards enhancing rice varieties, ultimately contributing to food security and agricultural sustainability in the region, Dr. Dixit added.

The event was organized by the IRRI Product Development and Variety Replacement South East Asia Breeding Team, headed by Dr. Mary Jean Du.