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January-March 2009, Vol. 4, No. 1

April 2006, Vol. 1, No. 2

Irrigated Rice Research Consortium

International Rice Research Institute

Rice Research for Intensified Production and Prosperity in Lowland Ecosystems

ripple is produced by the irrigated rice research Consortium (irrC) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The irrC promotes international links among scientists, managers, communicators, and farmers in lowland irrigated rice environments.

In this issue
Ripples of change .......... 3
Intensifying rice and maize production in Bangladesh Driving the vehicle of change IRRC produces video on monga

SDC funds Phase 4 of the IRRC

Waves of action..................6 IRRI-ACIAR Sulawesi project moves ahead Snapshots of 2008 Water saving benefits An Giang and beyond Profiles .......................................9 Dr. Savarys prescription for crop health Sri Lankas champion in overcoming weedy rice Publications & upcoming events ...................................11

Photo by G. Singleton
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he Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) approved a credit proposal in October 2008 for funding Phase 4 of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC). Phase 4 begins in January and will end in December 2012. The SDC will provide US$3.9 million for the IRRC to act as an innovation
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More generations of rice consumers have more reasons to smile as the IRRCs fourth phase begins this January 2009. (Photo by T. Mendoza)

SDC funds Phase 4...from page 1

platform for improved productivity of lowland irrigated rice. Complementary funding of specific work groups will be provided by the Asian Development Bank; a consortium of the International Fertilizer Industry Association, the International Plant Nutrition Institute, and the International Potash Institute; and the UK Department for International Development. The coordination unit of the IRRC also has funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research for adaptive research on integrating IRRC technologies in eastern Indonesia. The vision of the IRRC Phase 4 is to provide a platform of technologies readily available to a regional community of users in Asia to enable them to access options to improve their livelihoods and obtain the increases in rice production required to maintain food security in Asia. A key priority in Phase 4 will be the development of a series of innovation platforms that each cover at least 10,000 hectares and will be linked to national priorities. These platforms will facilitate the diffusion of technologies at the district, provincial, and national levels and will be structured around action research. The aim is to stimulate the engagement of policy advisers, farmers and farmer groups, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and teaching institutions. In line with the recommendations of the external review panel of Phase 3, the IRRC Phase 4 will consolidate its activities at fewer sites. The emphasis will be in Southeast Asia. However, activities in South Asia and

DRY AND PAINLESS. Innovative farmers prevent backache by sitting in basins while pulling seedlings for transplanting in Bone, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Photo by D. Casimero)

the Peoples Republic of China that are at an exciting stage will continue, such as direct-seeded rice and alternate wetting and drying in Bangladesh. We will have an increased emphasis on scaling up (influencing policy) and scaling out (wider dissemination of technologies to end users). We will also place strong emphasis on strengthening the capacity of national extension systems, NGOs, and public-private sector partnerships that are pro-poor.

Five work groups in Phase 4

Five work groups (WG) will constitute Phase 4 of the IRRC: (i) Productivity and Sustainability WG: with a focus on improved nutrient and crop management practices at the field and farm level for increased profitability in rice farming. (ii) Water-Saving

WG: with a focus on increased productivity under water-scarce conditions. (iii) Labor Productivity and Community Ecology WG: with a focus on improving labor productivity, including effective community action for managing weeds and rodents. (iv) Postproduction WG: with a focus on improving postproduction techniques and access of farmers to market information on rice. (v) Crop Health WG: with a focus on crop production management (e.g., crop rotation and fallow management) and host-plant resistance for managing insect pests and diseases. Phase 4 of the IRRC will hit the road running with planning and implementation workshops in Thailand and Myanmar in January and in Vietnam in February. We look forward to an exciting 4 years ahead that will build on the strong partner-

ships and advances obtained over the past 4 years. I take this opportunity to thank the members of the IRRC Steering Committee for their excellent support and contributions during Phase 3. I also express my deepest appreciation for the efforts and commitment of the many national members of the IRRC who have made the consortium such a success over the past 4 years. It is youthe scientists, extension staff, private sector partners, and policy specialistswho make this such a dynamic consortium across 11 countries in Asia. We look forward to your continued and strengthened participation during 2009-12! On behalf of the IRRC management team here at IRRI, I wish everyone a successful and joyous 2009.
Grant Singleton

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Ripples of Change

Intensifying rice and maize production in Bangladesh

hile getting maize and rice to the dining table has never been easy, it is much harder nowadays as farmers face more challenges to produce these basic commodities. Prices of fertilizer have reached an all-time high, water supply is dwindling, and soil has become less and less fertile from decades of use. These are some of the reasons for holding the workshop titled Sustainable intensification of rice-maize systems in Bangladesh, jointly organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) on 9-10 November 2008 at BRRI in Gazipur. The joint project, led by IRRI-CIMMYT scientist Dr. Jagadish Timsina, will be supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) for 5 years. Multiple partnerships will be built for strategic and adaptive research and technology transfer on rice-maize systems in four districts in Bangladesh. The national partners in the project include government organizations (GOs) such as BRRI, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), and the Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and the Rangpur-Dinajpur Rural Services (RDRS). The workshop was officially launched by Mr.

NO MORE HUNGER. Food security in tight times can be achieved by integrated efforts to intensify production. (Photo by G. Singleton)

M. Abdul Aziz, secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. He highlighted the relevance of the project in Bangladesh, and thanked ACIAR for funding support and all international and national partners for teaming up to achieve the food security goal of the country. Dr. Zainul Abedin, IRRI representative for Bangladesh, welcomed the participants in the workshop. Dr. Achim Dobermann, IRRI deputy director general for research, and Dr. John Dixon, director of the Impact Assessment and Targeting Unit of CIMMYT, delivered their messages by video. Other key speakers during the opening session were Mr. M. Harun-ur-Rashid, chairman of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council and director general

of BARI; Dr. M. Nur-E-Elahi, BRRI director general; Dr. M. Hossain, BRAC executive director; Dr. Ken Sayre, CIMMYT agronomist for South and Central Asia; and Dr. Paul Fox, research program manager of the Crop Improvement and Management Program of ACIAR. Dr. Hamid Miah, IRRI liaison scientist for Bangladesh, offered thanks to all concerned. The technical sessions covered various papers related to project objectives on conservation agriculture, sitespecific nutrient management, development and evaluation of excess-moisture-tolerant maize hybrids, and methods of socioeconomic studies. Later, project participants discussed the objectives and activities of the project and the expected outputs, refined the milestones, and prepared

a detailed work plan for each objective. The project, emphasizing both research and technology delivery and impact, is considered unique as it is jointly managed by IRRI and CIMMYT with diverse partnerships from GOs and NGOs in Bangladesh. Given the problems that modern agriculture faces, intensifying rice and maize production is one way to keep up with the ever-growing demand in the world market. Intensifying production means implementing sustainable ways of growing more rice and maize using less inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides. With the right people and organizations, Bangladeshi farmers and consumers are in for better times.
Carlito Balingbing and Lorelei de la Cruz

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Driving the vehicle of change

postharvest training in lao pDr

he main crop of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR) is rice, grown on the fertile floodplain of the Mekong River. About 80% of the countrys arable land is devoted to rice farming. But, despite this dependence on rice, the level of mechanization in rice farming and postharvest activities in Lao PDR is still low, and manual power dominates farm operations. Furthermore, tractors, harvesters, and mechanical dryers are not efficiently used and maintained by research centers and farmer groups.

issues and how they can improve rice productivity. A team from Vietnams Nong Lam University (NLU) and the Center for Agricultural Energy and Machinery conducted the 5-day training course for 19 participants from Vientiane, Savannakhet, and Champasak provinces.

hands-on training on the third day, with participants driving the mini combine harvester in the field and practicing on harvesting and measuring losses.

Day 4

Day 1

Thus, postharvest training was held at the Thasano Crop Multiplication Research Center, Savannakhet Province, on 27-31 October 2008, to create awareness on the effective use of agricultural machinery and improved postharvest management options. Organized by the countrys National Rice Research Program, the training also brought together farmer groups, researchers, and private sector staff to discuss postharvest

Training for progress

On the first day, Dr. Tran Van Khanh from NLU introduced the principles on operating and maintaining the tractor and agricultural machinery such as moldboard plows, disk plows, disk harrows, rotary tillers, seeders, and sprayers. Participants were also taught how to operate and adjust some components of a Chinese tractor, rotary tiller, and 3- and 7-disk plows.

The fourth day mostly focused on drying, introducing the main components of, and showing how to adjust and operate a flat-bed dryer. Participants were also introduced to the advantages of the laser-controlled leveling machine, calculating earthwork quantity, estimating operating time, and operating the machine itself.

postharvest management systems. The farmers group specifically wanted to buy some parts of the dryer because they would like to modify the dryer and replace some parts with materials they can find in their own communities. They saw the benefits that can be derived from using a combine harvester, which, at a capital cost of US$5,000 (including shipping cost from Vietnam), can greatly reduce the need for farm labor. A combine harvester can harvest 1 hectare in 1 day, while it takes 15 people to do the same job manually. The farmers said that competition for labor has been stiff, with neighboring country Thailand offering a higher rate of $56 per day during harvesting. This has made Lao PDRs postharvest operations more expensive, with the current daily rate for farm labor pegged at $34. An evaluation revealed that the participants improved their postharvest capacities as compared with their background knowledge
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Day 5

Day 2

Participants continued testing the flat-bed dryer and tried using the laser-leveling machine on the last day. The day ended with a wrap-up of the training course. Participants found the training useful since most of them were dealing with postharvest issues for the first time. They expressed their gratitude to the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute for providing training on rice

Harvesting methods and operation and maintenance of mini combine harvesters were introduced on the second day. Participants practiced driving the harvester around the yard.

Day 3

It was an all-day

LEFT TO RIGHT: Trainees get hands-on training on the operation and maintenance of the Chinese tractor JINMA-404; learn how to adjust a 3-disk plow; listen to a lecture on the mini combine harvester; and practice driving the harvester in the yard.
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Driving the vehicle...from page 4

at the start of the training course. Follow-up activities include setting up an initially informal national postharvest network.
By Trina Mendoza with reports and photos from Khamouane Khamphoukeo, Tran Van Khanh, Nguyen Thanh Nghi, Nguyen Duc Canh, and Martin Gummert

LEFT TO RIGHT: The trainees practice driving the mini combine harvester in the field, familiarize themselves with the valve for adjusting the hydraulic oil pressure of the harvester; and practice operating and adjusting the flat-bed dryer.

IRRC produces video on monga

n Bangladesh, life Farmers for the rural poor is shared their suchard enough at any cess stories, telling time. Thirty million how their families people suffer from hunger lives are slowly each year. But life gets getting better harder in the north from because of direct September to November, seeding and shorter when the hunger duration varieties. months or monga occur. The video Monga affects many poor footage was shot people in five districts in October 2007 in the north, most of during the monga whom rely on farm work. season and in Although there is food in July 2008 during the market, many cannot the transplanting afford to buy because period. Voice narthey do not have enough ration in Bengali money. Many are jobless, and Hindi will be Modern media such as video can potentially reach millions of people worldwide, and waiting for the harvest recorded early this make a difference in the lives of Bangladeshs rural poor. (Photo by T. Mendoza) of their transplanted year to reach wider rice crop in December. audiences. It is hoped that, The video highlights the bined with direct seeding The Irrigated Rice Rewith this video, more people initiatives of a local alliance and weed control options. search Consortium (IRRC) will be aware of this seasonal called the Northwest Area In direct seeding, rice aimed to capture the hardphenomenon, and more imFocal Forum, comprising seeds are sown directly ships of people during monga portantly, they will appreciate government institutions and into an unflooded field. The and the actions being taken by nongovernment organizahow technologies are helpseeds can be sown dry or as partners to help alleviate the ing families overcome it. tions, including, among wet pregerminated seeds. seasonal food crisis through others, RDRS, IntercooperaSowing dry seeds using a Watch out for the video soon on a short video documentary. tion, GAUS, and Solidarity. hand-drawn tool called a YouTube. For more on monga, read Farmers were interTogether with the IRRC based lithao is becoming popular RIPPLE Vol. 2, No. 4 (Octoberviewed, revealing the triat the International Rice with farmers in areas where December 2007), Vol. 3, No. 1 (Janals they face and the many Research Institute and the it is being tested. Another uary-March 2008), and Rice Today ways they try to cope with Bangladesh Rice Research option presented to farmVol. 7, No. 2 (April-June 2008). monga by pulling rickInstitute (BRRI), they are ers is to sow wet germinated Story and photo by Trina Mendoza shaws; selling livestock, promoting earlier harvests seeds using a drum seeder, poultry, logs and bananas; through the use of shorter which needs 5060% less and sewing garments. duration rice varieties comrice seed than broadcasting.
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Waves of Action

arely a month after the project launch in October, Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) researchers returned to South and Southeast Sulawesi on 10-22 November 2008 to continue work on raising rice productivity in the two provinces. South Sulawesi is the fourth largest rice-producing province in Indonesia, while Southeast Sulawesi is seen as a province with significant potential for expansion. The Indonesian government aims to improve rice productivity in these areas to help reach the countrys target increase of 5% per year from 2007 to 2010. To get an understanding of how technologies are communicated from research to farmers, IRRC communication specialist Trina Mendoza met with the directors, vice-directors, and extension staff of the Indonesian Center for Rice Research (ICRR) in Sukamandi, the Institute Center for Agriculture Technology Assessment and Development (ICATAD) in Bogor, and provincial Assessment Institutes for Agricultural Technology (AIATs) in South and Southeast Sulawesi. She conducted an audit of extension materials for improved natural resource management (NRM) of irrigated rice and looked at the communication methods and materials produced for national initiatives. These were made available to extension workers at the subdistrict level. Many farmers visit ICRR throughout the year to learn about new technologies. In 2008, more than 30,000

IRRC-ACIAR Sulawesi project moves ahead

ENOUGH FOR ALL. The government of Indonesia is determined to raise rice production to attain selfsufficiency. (Photo by T. Mendoza)

visitors went to ICRR, a majority of whom attended the National Rice Week in October. Still, Dr. Hasil Sembiring, ICRR director, wants to further raise the profile of ICRR by producing a quarterly newsletter similar to RIPPLE. Dr. Priatna Sasmita, head of the Research Dissemination Subdivision, has been tasked to produce the newsletter in 2009, with inputs from Ms. Mendoza. ICATAD is also keen to boost its communication capabilities. ICATAD staff members Vyta Indrawan and Erythrina accompanied Ms. Mendoza to learn about different strategies of communication. Dr. Erizal, ICATAD vicedirector for collaboration and dissemination, happily announced that they are producing a newsletter called SMARTS for distribution to AIATs. They also started creating information kits similar to the extension kits produced by the Philippine Rice Research Institute. This

proves that cross-country learning is working in these countries. Dr. Erizal added that they are also interested in making videos since most Indonesians enjoy watching television and see it as an important source of information. AIATs in South and Southeast Sulawesi are also actively disseminating technologies to farmers. In addition to leaflets, videos, and technology bulletins, they organize meetings, demonstrations in farmers fields, training courses, and workshops. Most activities are linked with Prima Tani, an outreach program launched in 2005 that aims to accelerate the transfer of agricultural technologies to farmers. In Southeast Sulawesi, the AIAT regularly contacts the local media, and its events have been covered by local newspapers, and radio and television programs. Meanwhile, project scientist Donna Casimero, who is now based in

Makassar, South Sulawesi, traveled with IRRC anthropologist Rica Flor to the villages of Awolagading and Ujung Tanah of Bone District in South Sulawesi, and Karandu and Bendewuta of Wawotobi District in Southeast Sulawesi. Dr. Casimero followed up on field-benchmarking activities in the village and guided AIAT staff in setting up traps for rodents and insects. She assessed the field conditions in the villages and how they can be improved. Farmerpartners in the project villages are excited as they are currently trying out IRRC technologies in their own fields such as alternate wetting and drying, the use of trap barrier systems for managing rats, and sitespecific nutrient management. Ms. Flor trained interviewers and guided them in conducting a baseline survey on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices
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IRRI-ACIAR Sulawesi project ...from page 6

Water-Saving Work Group Updates

A mini-workshop on water-saving technologies for rice production was held at the Bulacan Agricultural State College last 28 November 2008. The workshop aimed to report the current status of farmer-participatory development of aerobic rice in the Philippine provinces of Palawan, Bataan, Bulacan, La Union, and Aurora. Work plans for the 2009 dry season were also drafted by participants from state universities and colleges, local government units, and nongovernment organizations involved in the project. Dr. Ruben Lampayan, Emma Quicho, and Lolit Adriano of IRRI visited the University of Southern Philippines in Davao City on 31 October 2008 to follow up and discuss with MiSpace company staff details of the development of an e-learning module on Water management in irrigated rice: coping with water scarcity. The module is expected to be completed in January for pretesting. The proposed Administrative Order (AO) on Guidelines on mainstreaming water-saving technologies (WST) in irrigated rice production systems in the Philippines has now been endorsed to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture for final comments and approval. A planning meeting with Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) partners was held on 9 December 2008 to finalize the 2009 work plan for water-saving activities in the Philippines. The group also gave updates on the alternate wetting and drying dissemination activities in the different national irrigation systems in the country, and the future linkage with the Philippine Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan. Dr. Ruben Lampayan gave lectures on watersaving technologies during the Provincial Training on Trainers (Philippine Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan activity for Region IV-A) in November and December 2008.

College students and extension workers practice interviewing a farmer after a training on conducting a baseline survey. (Photo by T. Mendoza)

of farmers with regard to NRM for rice production, and input-output costs of farmers. ICATAD staff Istriningsih, Saefudin, Siti Sehat Tan, and Ms. Indrawan also accompanied Ms. Flor to learn first-hand how to develop and conduct field surveys. Aside from AIAT extension staff, students from universities were also trained as interviewers, since the IRRC sees universities and colleges as partners in technology dissemination. While farmers are experimenting in their fields,

scientists are collecting baseline data for use in monitoring adoption and evaluating the impact of the project. The audit of communication materials will also identify possible new materials to be produced to help farmers. A lot of work needs to be done, but with the energy and enthusiasm of local partners, the project poses an exciting challenge that the IRRC team is willing to take on.
Trina Mendoza and Rica Flor

Training course on pest ecology and management

Attention, young scientists, mid-career agricultural scientists, and decisionmakers from developing countries! A training course will be held at the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, titled Ecology and sociology of management of pests with emphasis on rodents and weeds. It will be held on 16-27 March 2009. The training fee for international delegates is US$2,200. This includes air fare, food, and accommodations. For local delegates and inquiries on board and lodging, please contact Ms. Angie Maghuyop of the IRRI Training Center at +63(49)-536-2701 to 2705, local 2538, or email her at There are 20 slots available.

Managing pests in the rice field does not mean having to cause harm to the environment. Learn from the experts how to control them the ecologically friendly way. (Photo by G. Singleton)

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2008 napshots of S

Rat trapping, Lao PDR, January

Discussions, Lao PDR, January

Weeding, Myanmar, February

Water workshop, Philippines, March

Nutrient Manager training, Indonesia, April Rat hunting, Vietnam, April Village market boards, Cambodia, April

Airtight cocoon storage, Cambodia, May

Stakeholders meeting, Lao PDR, June

Research-to-impact workshop, Philippines, September

Water saving benefits An Giang and beyond

or some time now, An Giang has been Vietnams top province in terms of rice production. It helps that the provinces leaders are progressive and open-minded. They took the initiative of seeking the assistance of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to stay in synch with the latest rice production technologies. On 17-21 November 2008, 70 people from different districts and provinces underwent a training of trainers in An Giang. One of the lecturers was Dr. To Phuc

Tuong, an IRRI scientist. Dr. Tuong explained the principles of water saving and how to use alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology. AWD allows farmers to produce rice using less water, potentially saving money. Several issues were raised in relation to AWD. One major concern was that, in many cases, farmers do not own a water pump. Instead, they have to pay a pump owner for water. But, in those parts, instead of farmers paying for the gasoline needed to pump water, farmers are charged

a flat rate per hectare, regardless of how much water they actually use. In these cases, only the pump owner benefits from water saving. To encourage farmers to adopt AWD, farmers must negotiate with pump owners to share the benefits of water saving. The participants also visited some farmers who have adopted AWD. The farmer-adopters expressed their satisfaction with AWD, citing the many kinds of savings they enjoyed because of the technology. AWD also decreases lodging in direct-seeded rice, further

increasing the yield. Several Vietnamese water management specialists also attended the training, so they can serve as resource persons when the need arises in the future. The participants made work plans to implement the technologies they learned in their own districts and provinces. They targeted so many hectares for these technologies per year. This way, the benefits of An Giangs success should spread to other rice-producing areas.
Lorelei de la Cruz

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Dr. Savarys prescription for crop health

Surprisingly, in France, plant disease epidemiology had neither been taught in the universities nor were there Learning the ropes advanced-level books on the At 22, while working at field in French. So, Dr. Savary ORSTOM and the Research took up the challenge of deInstitute for Development veloping courses and course (IRD) in Montpellier, France, materials, as well as teaching Dr. Savary got his agriculturboth large and small classes. al engineering degree in the Although he found it difficult Ecole Nationale Suprieure to teach students who had no dAgronomie, also in Montbackground in crop protecpellier. Contrary to tion, Dr. Savary knew the popular notion Everybody knows that the world is unequal, it had to be done. that there are poor people in the world. So, its a that agricultural And, when some of vocational thing for me, working not only for myself. his students became engineering is all about machinery, interested in plant Dr. Savary explains, In Modeling career protection, plant pathology, France, it goes far beyond Eight years later, Dr. and plant disease epidemiolmachinery. It covers economSavary was doing modeling ogy, he found this new experiics, agronomy, social scihalfway around the world, but ence extremely rewarding. ences, plant health, molecular not the glamorous kind. The biology, food processing, hardworking scientist was Making history with and microbiotechnology. in Costa Rica from 1999 to healthy crops Dr. Savary spent 9 years 2002 studying how to manage Today, Dr. Savary is back in Cte dIvoire, doing varidiseases on farms in the tropat IRRI. He heads the new ous research activities such ics using simulation modeling Crop Health Work Group of as a systematic inventory and experiments on plantathe IRRC, formed as part of of plant diseases, particutions. His team worked on the Consortiums fourth phase, larly those of vegetables and biocomplexity, which, simply which started in January. legumes. His work often put, refers to the complex proIn the rare times that took him to many countries cesses, adaptations, and inDr. Savary is not at work, he in West Africa to work with terplay of the many elements reads history books. So, its no colleagues he learned much present on tropical farms. surprise that he uses historiripple January-March 2009

ver wondered what a scientists life is like? Dr. Serge Savary of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC) intimates: Its a lot of work. Its at least 60 hours of work per week, and Im not counting, really. There is no break at all, ever. Yet, the 57-year-old French plant pathologist willingly devoted his life to his field. Born in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Dr. Savary grew up with the desire to work for the developing world. He explains, Everybody knows that the world is unequal, that there are poor people in the world. So, its a vocational thing for me, working not only for myself.

from. At the end of his stay in Cte dIvoire, he was offered a fellowship at Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands, where he finished his doctorate in phytopathology. Plant pathology involves biology, mathematics, microclimatology, physics, social sciences, economics, chemistry, and plant physiology, he said. Again, theres a lot of integrated sciences and, therefore, that makes it an exciting field of education.

For IRRCs new phase, Dr. Savary is set to conduct field experiments and improve the Rice Knowledge Bank. (Photo, IRRI archive)

The specialist

Dr. Savary first crossed paths with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1991. His early analyses of rice diseases, insect pests, and weeds, as well as crop management, led to a joint research between IRRI and the IRD: My research at IRRI offered me the unique opportunity to work with outstanding support staff (from whom I learned what I know about rice) and exceptional scientific personalities.

Blazing a trail for the French

cal events as an analogy to the issues on crop health today. Imagine being a doctor in the UK in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution, he said. Biology was just emerging. Many diseases were being discovered, many of them related to the way of life, the quality of nutrition or water, and working conditions. A medical doctor then faced dramatic, often widespread, public health situations. Today, doctors in the UK face completely different situations, but they have a better understanding of social systems, of the health of elderly people, as well as the psychological effects of health. What crop health is facing today is relatively similar. We need to clearly understand this coevolution between crop health and production situations. Change is on the way, and, inevitably, this will have consequences for crop health. But, we dont know what those consequences are likely to be. New technologies are also associated with new problems. Im not saying that the problems are becoming worse. Im saying that the problems are becoming different. This is why work continues for plant pathologists like Dr. Savary. In fact, his work at the IRRC has just begun. But, at a time when many scientists are busy trying to make a big impact with their work, Dr. Savary prefers not to be obsessed with impact alone: One cannot imagine having impact if the science behind it is not good. Contribute first to the science, then you can expect impact.

Lorelei de la Cruz

Sri Lankas champion in overcoming weedy rice

side from water shortage and floods, weeds have become a major problem in the rice fields of Sri Lanka. More than 90% of the farmers practice direct seeding in nonpuddled fields. With the shift from transplanting to direct seeding, and without the protective layer of water, different hard-tomanage weed species have infested the fields. Weedy rice, in particular, has become a major threat to rice fields in different parts of the country.

Weedy rice is believed to be either a natural hybrid of cultivated (Oryza sativa) companies can be used in and wild (O. rufipogon and the countrys rice fields. O. nivara) rice species or a result of de-domestication Farmers friend of cultivated rice. It was first She finds fulfillment detected in Sri Lanka in 1992, in working with farmers, but there was no serious threat visiting them in the fields then, says Dr. Anuru Abeyand asking them about yield sekera, senior weed scientist constraints. When I go to and head of the Plant Protecthe field, I do not go as a big tion Division at the Departboss but as a friend, she ment of Agricultures Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI). In 2007, however, in Ampara and Puttalam districts, many farmers complained that they could not cultivate their fields because of weedy rice, and yield losses were estimated at 30100%. Now, the longevity of seed viability of weedy rice seeds collected from different areas in Sri Lanka is being studied. Dr. Abeysekera first came to the International Rice LONG-TIME FRIENDS. Dr. Abeysekera with fellow weed scientist Offie Namuco in their field of Research Institute expertise. (Photo by S. Panimbatan) (IRRI) in 1985 for
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When rice becomes a weed

a 2-month weed training course. A specialist in botany and biochemistry, she began collaborative research with IRRI in the late 1990s with weed scientist Martin Mortimer. In 2004, she started working with Dr. David Johnson under the Irrigated Rice Research Consortiums (IRRC) Phase 2, then with the Weed Ecology Work Group (now called Labor Productivity). The strong partnership with the IRRC has since then continued. From 2005 to 2007, she conducted field surveys and experiments at the RRDI, studying weedy rice, and comparing crop establishment and weed control practices to reduce yield losses to weeds under different rice environments. As the national coordinator for the herbicide testing program in Sri Lanka since 1990, Dr. Abeysekera has been instrumental in checking and approving which herbicides sent by chemical

Dr. Abeysekeras hands-on approach earns farmers trust as she shares her knowledge with them. (Photo by O. Namuco)

says. Farmers like it when researchers visit them. They are very receptive. They even call me at home to ask about their field problems. She believes that researchers must go to the fields with extension workers to further help share technologies with farmers. Her days are filled with visits to the field and administrative work in the office, leaving very little time for relaxation. This is why she values her weekends with family, cooking for her 23-year-old son, Chamara, who goes home from the university, and her husband, Shelton, who is also RRDIs Plant Breeding Division head. During the interview, she fondly remembers enrolling her son in kindergarten in an international school near IRRI at the University of the Philippines Los Baos, where she obtained her PhD. Now, she continues working with Dr. Johnson and IRRI weed scientists Joel Janiya and Offie Namuco, whom she considers her long-time friends. One upcoming project is a video on weedy rice management in Sri Lanka, which has been translated into English. When asked about her future goals for her career, she shakes her head and smiles. Her main priority is to help the farmers. If the farmer is happy, reduces his losses due to weeds, and gets a good yield, then I have done my duty.
Trina Mendoza

Upcoming events
(JanuaryMarch 2009)
Training course
Ecology and sociology of management of pests with emphasis on rodents and weeds, International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, 16-27 March 2009.

Book chapters
Buresh RJ. 2008. Sustaining profitable crop and nutrient management in paddy cultivation. In: Paddy soils, wetlands and healthy people. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Soil Revitalization, 31 October 2008, Changwon, Korea. p. 72-87. Palis FG, Flor RJ, Singleton GR. 2008. Agricultural extension: Institutional pluralism and innovations worldwide, Country: Philippines. In: Saravanan R, editor. Agricultural extension: worldwide innovations. New Delhi: New India Publishing Agency. p 333-370.

Productivity and Sustainability Work Group Updates

In Indonesia, the Assessment Institutes for Agricultural Technology continued disseminating the site-specific rice fertilization (SSRF) system in major rice-growing provinces during the fourth quarter of 2008. SSRF is based on scientific principles developed through past collaborative research on site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) for rice. It is being disseminated to research and extension staff through a training module and an interactive computer-based decision tool named Pemupukan Padi Sawah Spesifik Lokasi (PuPS). This tool provides farmers with specific fertilizer guidelines designed for their own fields based on their own responses to a set of easy multiple-choice questions. In the Philippines, a computer-based decision tool called Nutrient Manager for Rice was released on CD in five Philippine dialects in October 2008. The Nutrient Manager provides farmers with fertilizer guidelines for their specific rice field, variety, and growing conditions. An extension worker assists them in answering 10 easy-to-answer multiple-choice questions, from which the fertilizer guidelines are derived. By March 2009, some 4,000 CDs should have been distributed across the country. The principles used in Nutrient Manager are consistent with research findings on SSNM for rice. Also in the Philippines, a computer-based teaching tool for undergraduate soil science and agronomy courses in agricultural colleges and universities was initially presented at a training workshop in Iloilo on 22 October 2008. The tool was subsequently revised based on feedback from workshop participants. A beta version named Nutrient Optimizer for Rice, which helps identify the most profitable integrated use of organic and manufactured sources of nutrient for rice, was released for evaluation in December 2008.


Planning meeting at the Rice Department, Bangkok, Thailand, 8-9 January 2009. Planning meeting and field visit, MAS-DAR, Myanmar, 12-16 January 2009. Planning meeting, Lao PDR, 19-20 February 2009. Stakeholder meeting and learning alliance for increasing rice productivity in An Giang, Vietnam, 23-26 February 2009.

International Journals

Postproduction Work Group

Stakeholder workshop at the Rice Department in Bangkok, Thailand, 8-9 January 2009. Monitoring of ongoing activities and planning of IRRC Phase 4 activities with national stakeholders in Myanmar, 11-22 January 2009. Postharvest stakeholder analysis in the Philippines, February-March 2009. Postharvest stakeholder analysis in Vietnam, March 2009. Participatory Impact Pathway Analysis workshop, Philippines, April 2009; Vietnam, May 2009. Support to a PhilRice-Nong Lam University activity for the transfer of improved drying technology from Vietnam to the Philippines. Support to import mini combine harvester prototype into Myanmar.

Jacob J, Singleton GR, Hinds LA. 2008. Fertility control of rodent pests. Wildlife Research 2008. p 487-493. Chauhan BS, Johnson DE. 2008. Germination ecology of Chinese sprangletop (Leptochloa chinensis) in the Philippines. Weed Science. 56:820-825. Chauhan BS, Johnson DE. 2008. Seed germination and seedling emergence of nalta jute (Corchorus olitorius) and redweed (Melochia concatenata): important broadleaf weeds of the tropics. Weed Science. 56:814-819. Conference Proceedings Chauhan BS, Johnson DE. 2008. Influence of tillage on patterns of weed seedling emergence in rice. In: Van Klinken RD, et al, editors. 16th Australian Weeds Conference Proceedings, Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Queensland Weeds Society. p 448-450.

Editorial and production tEam
IRRC: Trina Leah Mendoza, Grant Singleton, Lorelei de la Cruz, Jennifer Hernandez CPS: Tess Rola, Bill Hardy CoNTRIBuTING AuTHoRS: Martin Gummert, Roland Buresh, Emma Quicho, Khamouane Khamphoukeo, Tran Van Khanh, Nguyen Thanh Nghi, Nguyen Duc Canh, Carlito Balingbing, Rica Flor

ripple January-March 2009

A Bangladeshi woman harvests jute, one of the countrys major sources of livelihood, aside from rice. Bangladesh is one of the top jute producers in the world. (Photo by T. Mendoza)

Credits: The authors kindly provided pictures for their articles. Copyright for pictures belongs to the authors. Please direct further correspondence, comments, and contributions to Dr. Grant Singleton IRRC Coordinator International Rice Research Institute DAPO Box 7777 Metro Manila, Philippines E-mail: This newsletter presents the personal views of individual authors and not necessarily those of IRRI, SDC, or collaborating organizations in the IRRC. Copyright IRRI 2009