Monday, 4 June 2012

International Rice Research Institute

Spent the day at IRRI. Its part of the CGIAR, the research arm of the World food programme which includes CIMIT in Mexico, the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre, an agroforestry centre and grazing centre, both in Kenya. There is a total 15 of such international R& D institutes around the world covering the staple food and agricultural systems.
Very impressive array of projects underway in many countries, a reminder of the role rice plays, socially, politically, and economically throughout much of the world.
Seeing a modern, well funded institution set in a provincial area in a developing country, you can not help but ponder the importance, and huge potential impact of research and foreign aid. As we left Australia I noticed the media were running a few stories regarding the aid budget......
IRRI now has a huge budget, made up of government and aid monies, and from philanthropic donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The rice gene bank is located on site, and contains 114000 varieties of rice from 145 countries. (There is a wild rice from Northern Australia, something I did not know.)
This collection is replicated in two other locations, including the Doomsday Vault in Norway.
Another gene marker and gene modification lesson was delivered, envy time a little bit more stays in and adds to a basic understanding! The presenters were truly passionate about their work, and proud of the part they were playing in helping to feed a growing world population.
Currently flying to Hong Kong, en route to China.
What an experience......

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