News and Events

This section provides news releases and feature stories on STRASA project highlights and impacts, as well as, announcements of ongoing or upcoming activities. For any comments, suggestions or article contributions related to the project, please contact or send to:

Abdelbagi M. Ismail at a.ismail@irri.org

Maria Rowena M. Baltazar at r.baltazar@irri.org

Most Recent Posts

  • IRRI showcases technologies to help Indian farmers in agricultural fair By Showkat A. Waza, Amit Mishra, and Priyanka AnandThe International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) showcased various technologies developed and promoted by the institute for Indian farmers through its projects ...
    Posted Jan 23, 2017, 12:46 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
  • STRASA's Abdel Ismail to lead IRRI’s Genetics and Biotechnology Division Abdelbagi Ismail has been appointed as the head of the Genetics and Biotechnology (GB) Division of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) starting 1 January 2017. Dr. Ismail succeeds Dr ...
    Posted Jan 11, 2017, 10:01 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
  • Traveling interactive meetings convince farmers in Odisha to switch to stress-tolerant rice varieties and farm mechanization by N.C. Banik, P. Anand, and A. KumarODISHA, India—A traveling seminar and an interactive meeting with farmers was organized in Puri District to show the benefits of ...
    Posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:29 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
  • Exhibit for seed producers held to increase adoption of high-yielding, climate-smart rice varieties in eastern India by Mayank SharmaWEST BENGAL, India—A varietal exhibition was held in Birbhum to enhance key seed system players’ awareness of stress-tolerant rice varieties and help promote them. The ...
    Posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:21 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
  • Odisha State holds training on quality rice seed production By Tara Chand Dhoundiyal and Showkat WazaCUTTACK, India--IRRI, in collaboration with the National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), conducted training of trainers on “Quality Rice Seed Production, Storage, and ...
    Posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:00 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 43. View more »

IRRI showcases technologies to help Indian farmers in agricultural fair

posted Jan 23, 2017, 12:46 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

By Showkat A. Waza, Amit Mishra, and Priyanka Anand


The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) showcased various technologies developed and promoted by the institute for Indian farmers through its projects Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) and the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) in a regional farmers’ fair. The event was organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research in Modipuram Village, Uttar Pradesh, from 28 to 30 November 2016. The theme of the fair was “Tikkau Kheti - Khushal Kisan (Sustainable Agriculture for Happy Farmers).”

The event was primarily aimed at providing an effective platform for creating awareness among farmers. A large number of farmers from six northern states of India (Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand) attended the event. This provided a good platform for reaching farmers and providing them with information on the latest technologies and machinery such as stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs), Crop Manager for Rice-based Systems, safe alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology, use of the turbo seeder for rice residue management, publications on seed production and postharvest techniques, the manual rice transplanter, the community mat nursery, and performance charts for the STRVs. In addition, IRRI representatives Dr. Showkat A. Waza (left photo) and Dr. Amit Mishra (lower right photo) demonstrated the various technologies developed by IRRI. 

Farmer-friendly literature of IRRI was also distributed among the farmers and students. This fair also gave an opportunity for the scientists, farmers, and input dealers to interact, which greatly benefited the farmers.

STRASA's Abdel Ismail to lead IRRI’s Genetics and Biotechnology Division

posted Jan 11, 2017, 10:01 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎


Abdelbagi Ismail has been appointed as the head of the Genetics and Biotechnology (GB) Division of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) starting 
1 January 2017. Dr. Ismail succeeds Dr. Hei Leung, the interim GB head, who will focus on guiding IRRI’s research initiatives in China and Japan.

Dr. Ismail, a Sudanese national and plant physiologist by training, brings 24 years of professional experience to lead the GB division. Currently serving as the coordinator of the project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), he has spent a significant part of his career developing rice varieties that can withstand harsh environmental conditions such as flooding, salinity, and soil problems.

“Indeed, it is an honor to serve as the GB head and to follow and build on the dynamic leadership of Hei Leung,” said Dr. Ismail. “I am delighted to take up this responsibility and to work vigorously with our colleagues towards a more productive, results- and impact-oriented research. We need to continue tackling current and future challenges and ensuring secured food and wellness of rice farmers and consumers.”

Aside from STRASA, Dr. Ismail has provided leadership to more than 20 projects at IRRI since 2005. He has been involved in the generation and management of major research grants totaling more than USD100 million. His research work aims to improve the lives of marginal farmers in different parts of the world who are most vulnerable to climate change adversities by sustainably increasing their rice productivity and income.

Some of his research has focused on refining screening methods, identifying tolerant donors, and establishing the genetic and physiological basis of tolerance. He has also assisted in developing tolerant breeding lines using standard and molecular methods and then evaluating and selecting them in farmers’ fields. He has developed and validated sets of best management practices for different abiotic stress conditions to maximize expression of genetic tolerance and mitigate stress effects. (Click link for full article)

Traveling interactive meetings convince farmers in Odisha to switch to stress-tolerant rice varieties and farm mechanization

posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:29 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

by N.C. Banik, P. Anand, and A. Kumar



ODISHA, India—A traveling seminar and an interactive meeting with farmers was organized in Puri District to show the benefits of growing stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) using sustainable intensification technologies. 

The event, held on 22 November, showcased flood-tolerant CR 1009-Sub1, Swarna-Sub1, and BINA dhan11 and the drought-tolerant DRR-42 planted in farmers’ fields in Danogahir, Achhuasahi, and Srikanthapur during kharif 2016 using (direct-seeding drill and mechanical transplanter. In addition to the improved varieties, best management practices such as optimal seed rate and planting time, fertilizer scheduling, and integrated weed management were also highlighted.  

The field demos attracted the interest of about 65 farmers, village agriculture workers, NGO partners, and service providers. Farmers across different sites were impressed with the STRVs because of the vigorous crop stand, resistance to lodging, and higher yield compared to traditional varieties. Some farmers were initially apprehensive about using STRVs and direct seeding—being totally new interventions in the area. However, they were eventually convinced to adopt the technologies for next year’s cropping season as they realized the added assurance of higher yields even with heavy rainfall or flooding. 

“In coastal Odisha, the BINA dhan-11, being short duration and flood-tolerant variety, could be a good option for re-sowing or transplanting late in the season in areas where floods have damaged crops planted earlier,” said Dr. Narayan Chandra Banik, an agronomist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-India.  

The participating farmers were also impressed with the direct-seeding drill and mechanical transplanters because of the immediate benefits such as significant savings in labor, energy, cost of cultivation, and reduced drudgery. 

New service providers created by the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and farmers who opted to use mechanical transplanting said they could transplant rice seedlings in time at a reduced cost. They also obtained higher rice yield than from manual transplanting.
 
The main concern of stakeholders about direct seeding is weed management and limited knowledge on the proper use of herbicides. “Integrated weed management with newly recommended pre- and post-emergence herbicides and manual and mechanical weeding could be an effective option for controlling weed in direct seeded rice,” explained Dr. Ashok Kumar, IRRI coordinator of the  CSISA Odisha hub. “Training of input dealers and service providers on herbicides could also be helpful.”

While the majority of participants opined that the large-scale adoption of the technology was limited by lack of awareness and availability of the equipment, agriculture officials emphasized nursery enterprise development could enable a wider dissemination of mechanical tranplanters.  Service providers can avail of the government’s subsidy scheme for purchasing trays for rice mat nurseries and provide service for  nursery and paddy transplanter. Current existing trained service providers can also target selected villages to increase awareness of mechanical transplanters, which in turn will increase their enterprise.

The traveling seminars and interactive meetings were organized by CSISA in collaboration with the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project coordinated by IRRI and the state’s Department of Agriculture.  Similar efforts to demonstrate and out-scale these technologies are being conducted in Khurda, Cuttack, and Jagatsinghapur in Puri Districts. (See also story in IRRI News)

Exhibit for seed producers held to increase adoption of high-yielding, climate-smart rice varieties in eastern India

posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:21 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

by Mayank Sharma



WEST BENGAL, India—A varietal exhibition was held in Birbhum to enhance key seed system players’ awareness of stress-tolerant rice varieties and help promote them. The activity also aims to improve seed supply and accelerate the adoption of suitable varieties by small and marginal farmers living in stress-prone areas in eastern India. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in India, facilitated the event through its project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), which organized the client-oriented varietal exhibition on 22 October as part of its strategy to reduce poverty and to stabilize rice production in rainfed ecosystems through the use of modern varieties and technology.

To support its project objective, STRASA brought together around 140 representatives from seed dealers, seed producers, private seed companies, state seed corporations, non-governmental organizations, progressive farmers and others from Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam to enhance their knowledge of new stress-tolerant rice varieties. The on-farm display featured all stress-tolerant rice varieties released in India along with some popular high-yielding varieties from eastern Indian states giving participants the opportunity to observe the traits of these improved rice varieties. 

“Engaging the private sector in the diffusion process is important and sustainable,” said Dr. Manzoor Dar, a development specialist in agricultural research at IRRI-India who initiated the idea of bringing these stakeholders in eastern India together. “Delivering these services directly to seed dealers has a greater impact on the spread of new varieties since they have incentives to spread this information to their customers. Increases in the demand for these varieties translate directly to increased profits for dealers.”  

IRRI-STRASA also held a worskhop on various aspects of seed supply chain to help the private seed sector develop better seed markets and strategies for scaling-up the production and adoption of these improved varieties. During the workshop, Dr. Gary Atlin (third from right in photo), senior program officer at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed the role of private seed companies and dealers in supplying quality products to the farmers and need to promote climate-resilient rice varieties. 

The workshop provided key seed players with a platform to give their feedback. 

“We encourage seed dealers and private seed companies to share their experiences and requirements on behalf of the farmers,” said Dr. George Kotch (extreme right in photo), head of Plant Breeding Division at IRRI. “This way the IRRI breeding program can be more effective in meeting the need of the farmers and the market.”

IRRI, through STRASA Project, is currently working to build the capacity to scale out stress-tolerant rice varieties in South Asia. 

“This includes partnerships with local NGOs and private seed companies to ensure adequate and sustainable seed supply and availability,” said Dar. “IRRI-STRASA has initiated forming a platform for all stakeholders in the seed sector who can be part of enhancing the delivery of  these varieties in the target areas.” (See similar article in IRRI News)

Odisha State holds training on quality rice seed production

posted Dec 16, 2016, 12:00 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

By Tara Chand Dhoundiyal and Showkat Waza



CUTTACK, India--IRRI, in collaboration with the National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), conducted training of trainers on “Quality Rice Seed Production, Storage, and Postharvest Management” in Cuttack (Odisha) from 28 September to 1 October 2016. The training was specifically designed for extension workers, NGO representatives, and seed growers in local Odiya language. It consisted of classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the field covering seed production, maintenance breeding, integrated nutrient management, pest and disease management, and seed processing, packaging, and storage. The training was conducted in two batches to ensure the participation of a larger number of partner institutions covering all of Odisha.
 
The training aimed to address the various constraints faced during quality rice seed production and improve the capacity of extension and agricultural development officers, NGO staff, seed growers, dealers, and farmers to strengthen the seed system and increase rice productivity in the state. A total of 95 participants attended the training, representing the State Department of Agriculture at the district and block level, seed companies, seed dealers, and NGOs.

The training was inaugurated by the director of NRRI, Dr. Himanshu Pathak. In his inaugural address, he applauded IRRI’s role in establishing a genuine platform of public-private partnership linking the various stakeholders involved in agricultural development, including research and extension organizations, policy institutions, public-private seed companies, NGOs/community-based organizations, self-help groups, and farmers.  Importantly, this platform will be bringing in farmers and national and international organizations together to enhance the knowledge base and generate awareness among stakeholders on new and potential technologies. In addition, this platform focuses on farmers and is market driven. This is envisaged to ensure the availability of and accessibility to quality seed, a major input to increase rice productivity as well as promote skill and entrepreneurship development among the farmers. To deliver the potential benefits of these new technologies to larger numbers of the farming community, a strong communication mechanism will be needed with which all the stakeholders can be actively involved in exchanging ideas and experiences, he added.

Dr. O.N. Singh, head of the Crop Improvement Division (NRRI), emphasized the importance of seed as a basic input for high and sustainable crop yield. He stressed that seed is not a lone ingredient; rather, it is a constituent assembly of numerous technologies around pest-disease resistance, mineral composition, and stress tolerance, etc., thereby remaining as the most important component in overall crop production.

Dr. R.K. Sahu, senior scientist and nodal officer for seed, NRRI, was the chief training coordinator for this collaborative program. He conducted the training in both the classroom and field through interactive and participatory sessions moderated in the local language to reach out to each and every participant. He skillfully dealt with various issues and probable solutions for quality seed production in rice.

Dr. Manzoor Hussain Dar, IRRI, presented an overview and the objectives of the training and shared his experiences on the performance and potential of stress-tolerant rice varieties in South Asia with the participants.

On behalf of the participants, Mr. K. Mohanty, Mr. Vijay Kumar Jena, and Ms. Bhanu Priya shared feedback on the training. All appreciated the joint efforts of IRRI and NRRI in conducting this important training in Odisha.

The training program concluded with the distribution of certificates to the participants by the director of NRRI and a vote of thanks delivered by Mr. T.C. Dhoundiyal. 

Recommendations: Based on feedback from the participants, IRRI and NRRI teams discussed the training module and decided to broaden the scope of the training to make it more field intensive in the future. Both teams agreed to develop a detailed work plan for the next year’s training. (See also similar story in Rice Today Online)


West Bengal farmers learn more on drought-tolerant rice varieties and their management

posted Dec 15, 2016, 11:43 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

by Ashish Kumar Srivastava


WEST BENGAL, India—
The International Rice Research Institute and Rice Research Station-Chinsurah (government of West Bengal) jointly organized a one-day farmers’ meeting-program on “Drought-tolerant rice varieties and conforming management in West Bengal” at the Zonal Drought-Resistant Paddy Research Station (ZDRPRS), Hathwara, Purulia, on 26 September 2016.

Fifty-five farmers from Purulia I, Purulia II, and Arsha blocks of Purulia District attended the meeting. The meeting focused on providing information regarding newly available stress-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) and management practices such as crop establishment, nursery raising, main field management, and weed management, and targeting rice fallow to improve system productivity. 

Mr. U.S. Ray, assistant botanist, ZDRPRS, welcomed the chief guest, Dr. M.C. Dhara, joint director agriculture (Rice Division), other delegates, and the farmers. In his address to the farmers, Dr. Dhara emphasized the importance of STRVs in raising the productivity of the rainfed environment of Purulia District. Undulated land is a typical characteristic of Purulia’s agricultural land. Although this year more than normal rain has been received in Purulia, the undulated land makes it difficult to use the excess rainwater for the crop. Suitable short-duration drought-tolerant rice varieties will be a boon to poor marginal farmers to harness the productivity potential of these areas. 

Mr. Susanta Dutta, assistant director of agriculture (information) of Purulia District, gave a brief history of the changing cropping patterns of Purulia. He informed the farmers of the initiative taken by the government of West Bengal to improve the productivity potential in these rain-deficit areas. The government of India and the government of West Bengal, in close association with IRRI, have been continuously disseminating seeds of Sahbhagi Dhan, DRR42 (IR64-Drt1), and DRR44 through the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) for the past four years. Several progressive farmers had already started using these STRVs instead of the common local landraces/cultivars and they have doubled their production and household income. 

Dr. Ashish Kumar Srivastava (standing in above photo), assistant scientist (physiology), provided an overview of agronomic management practices for these newly released STRVs. He emphasized that matching management practices can produce 1 to 1.5 t/ha additional yield over these STRVs when grown using existing management practices. Dr. Somnath Saha, agronomist, pulse and oil seed research, Berhampore, provided an overview of the impact assessment of EC-IFAD drought activities in Purulia. He explained how the resource-poor farmers of neighboring villages were targeted and STRVs were distributed with information on management practices to them. Plots with local varieties/landraces were also kept to highlight the effect of STRVs and conforming management over traditional varieties when grown using farmers' practices. STRVs in combination with crop establishment methods such as dry/wet direct-seeded rice (DSR) and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) benefited the farmers a lot. 

Mr. Kaushik Maji, assistant director agriculture, Arsha block, shared an overview of EC-IFAD on-farm activities in Arsha block. Mr. M.K. Bhowmick, assistant agronomist, RRS-Chinsurah, informed the farmers about weed management in DSR. Appropriate doses of pre- and postemergence herbicides should be used as per the recommendation in the field. Mr. Manoranjan Jana, assistant botanist, RRS-Chinsurah, provided information regarding the availability of STRVs in West Bengal. Mr. Rajpati Prasad Mahato, Krishi Karmadhakshya, Purulia II, shared an update on government of India and government of West Bengal initiatives for farmers’ welfare. He emphasized the Pradanmantri Sichai Yojna (Prime Minister Irrigation Scheme) and crop insurance.

These deliberations were very useful and helped the farmers become acquainted with new advances in agricultural research and development. The session concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr. U.S. Ray.

Odisha and IRRI to start new project for improving rice farmers’ productivity and income in the state

posted Dec 15, 2016, 11:21 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

by Alaric Santiaguel



LOS BANOS, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment (DAFE) in Odisha approved the implementation of new 5-year scheme that aims to improve the productivity of rice-based cropping systems and the incomes of farmers in the state.
 
“This is a milestone for the India and IRRI cooperation,” said Corinta Guerta (second from right above photo), director for External Relations. “India is a very important partner of IRRI for the past 4 decades.” 

The collaborative project between DAFE and the International Rice research Institute (IRRI) was signed in September. In connection with the new project, Manoj Ahuja (center in photo), principal secretary of DAFE, Vice Chancellor Surendranath Pasupalak of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, and Commissioner and Director Pramod Kumar Meherda of the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production visited IRRI on 27-28 October. The party met with IRRI scientists and toured institute’s various facilities to observe some of the ongoing research activities and technologies 

 “We are interested in everything you have to offer,” said Secretary Ahuja.

During a briefing, they received an overview of some of IRRI’s projects in India. Among the projects discussed were the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) which focuses on accelerating the dissemination of improved rice varieties in the region. The Secretary and his associates were also updated on IRRI’s collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in developing new rice varieties for the region using the latest breeding technologies. Of the 200 IRRI projects in India, 30 are being conducted in Odisha.

“STRASA uses innovative approaches and regional cooperation for promoting stress-tolerant rice varieties not only in India but in South Asia,” said Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail (extreme right in photo), project leader of STRASA. “We have shortened the time for these varieties to reach farmers by almost half.” Prior to the new strategy, the process took 10 to 15 years.

Dr. Kshirod Jena, a principal scientist at IRRI, also presented some of the results of the collaborative breeding activities between ICAR and the institute to upgrade popular Indian rice varieties by incorporating rice genes responsible for high-yield and stronger resistance to pests and diseases. 

“Early reports showed dramatic increases in the yield of the MUTU 1010, Samba Mahsuri, and Swarna with the new genes,” said Jena. “They also show better resistance to pests and diseases affecting rice production in Odisha.”

Odisha agriculture secretary and farmers support adoption of STRVs

posted May 25, 2016, 8:33 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

by Narayan Banik, Vivek Kumar, Priyanka Anand and Ashok Kumar



ODISHA, India—Shri Manoj Ahuja (second from left in photo), principal secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DoA), Government of Odisha, commended the introduction of two stress-tolerant rice varieties in the state.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has introduced flood-tolerant BINA 11 and drought-tolerant DRR 42 in Odisha for the 2015-16 rabi season through the IRRI-coordinated projects Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA) and the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA). CSISA and STRASA, in collaboration with DoA, planted BINA 11 and DRR 42 using a mechanical rice transplanter and seed drill under best management practices on 200 hectares and 100 hectares, respectively, in Puri, Bhadarak, and Balasore Districts. 

The projects, both funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, showcased the stress-tolerant rice varieties and associated technology options so farmers can observe and evaluate their performance. The critical role of service providers of mechanical rice transplanters and seed drills was also discussed with the farmers. These machines help farmers to plant rice on time, alleviate labor shortages, and reduce the cost of rice cultivation.

Ahuja, along with national partner scientists Dr. J.K. Roy, Dr. Ashok Kumar, teams from CSISA and STRASA, and officials of the DoA visited farmers’ fields in Kahanapur and Kunarpur villages in Puri, and Sisolo Village in Khorda District on 30 April. Ahuja noted the enthusiastic response and feedback from farmers regarding the varieties. 

The participating farmers were excited when they found that these varieties can still be planted even during the ensuing kharif with their own seed produced in the current dry season. With proper roguing and procurements, the seeds of BINA 11 and DRR 42 produced in the current dry season will be sufficient to cover around 30,000 and 12,000 hectares, respectively, in the ensuing wet season of 2016.

BINA 11 is a high-yielding variety that is suitable for low-lying flood-affected areas. It matures in 120–130 days, and has good grain quality. It can potentially replace Lalat, a traditional variety that is commonly grown during the dry season. BINA 11 is superior to the traditional variety in terms of numbers of tillers/plant, length of panicle, and number of seeds per panicle.

Based on present crop status, discussion with farmers, and initial crop cut data, the average grain yields of BINA 11 and DRR 42 are around 5.5–6.0 and 5.0–5.5 tons per hectare, according to Dr. Narayan Banik, IRRI agricultural research and development specialist based in Odisha. 

The principal secretary also showed interest in seeing more progress in addressing fallow lands based on cropping systems with green gram, mustard, maize, and sunflower layered with mechanization, improved technologies, and best agronomic practices. Ahuja, in particular, focused on the skill improvement and capacity building of the stakeholders and the DoA extension staff, using the Transfer-Operate-Transfer model supported by simple print materials. He assured stakeholders of his department’s support for continuing and upscaling such efforts across Odisha in the future and suggested continuous interactions and regular updates.

Ahuja commended IRRI for its consistent support extended to Odisha farmers, not only through developing stress-tolerant rice varieties but also demonstrating their performance in farmers’ fields.

 

STRASA honors partners

posted May 10, 2016, 11:39 PM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎   [ updated May 10, 2016, 11:44 PM ]

by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar

BHUBANESWAR CITY, ODISHA, IndiaKey partners and outgoing senior staff of STRASA were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the successful implementation of STRASA in their regions. They were Dr. Dinesh K. Sharma, director of Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) in Karnal; Dr. Tilathoo Ram (in left of photo) , rice breeder, Indian Institute of Rice Research in Hyderabad; and Dr. Mohammad Abdul Bari, outgoing country and project manager in Bangladesh.

Dr. Sharma has provided leadership and support for the development, validation, and dissemination of rice varieties and pertinent technologies for salt-affected areas. Dr. Ram has had substantial involvement in the development and promotion of drought-tolerant rice. Dr. Bari was acclaimed for his notable leadership and dedication to STRASA and his exceptional strategic input into the project, leading to its remarkable success in Bangladesh. His initiative and aspiration to help needy farmers and his inspiration and support for staff and partners are much admired.

The awarding was held during the closing ceremony of the phase 3 second annual review and planning workshop of STRASA held at the
Mayfair Convention in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha state in India, 27 April 2016. Dr. S.L. Krishnamurthy  (in left of photo), senior scientist at CSSRI, received the award on behalf of  Dr. Sharma. Meanwhile, Dr. Bari (second from right, photo below) received his plaque from Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail (left of photo below), STRASA overall project leader and IRRI principal scientist, and Dr. Uma Shankar Singh (center), STRASA regional coordinator for South Asia and IRRI senior scientist, during the  planning meeting of a project associated with STRASA, the EC-IFAD-funded project, Improved Crop Management and Strengthened Seed Supply System for Drought-prone Rainfed Lowlands in South Asia, 28 April 2016.   Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, IRRI senior scientist and rainfed lowland agronomist for South Asia (second from left), who facilitated the EC-IFAD meeting, with some meeting participants, Dr. M.C. Dhara (third from right) and Dr. Ram B. Yadav (extreme right) looked on.

Farmers benefit from STRASA delivery of climate-smart rice

posted May 10, 2016, 12:08 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎

By Maria Rowena M. Baltazar



ODISHA CITY, BHUBANESWAR, India—The project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), is the platform for coping with current food security challenges.

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is very grateful to the STRASA leadership and partners in this very large network encompassing dozens of scientists and dozens of research programs across the region to develop and deliver products to needy farmers,” said Gary Atlin, senior program officer, Agriculture Research and Development, Global Development for the Gates Foundation, in his remarks during STRASA's recent review and planning workshop. 

He said that the average age of rice varieties in farmers' fields of eastern India is 28 years. So, these varieties need replacing fast to cope with the effects of climate change. “STRASA's dissemination team is using pioneering approaches to speed up the delivery of its products,” Dr. Atlin said. “We are very proud to be supporting this project.”

STRASA held its Phase 3 second annual review and planning workshop on 25-28 April at Odisha City's Mayfair Lagoon Hotel. 

The first two days were dedicated to project evaluation and planning based on the major objectives—tolerance for drought, submergence, and salinity and seed delivery. There were also sessions on cross-cutting activities including biotic stresses, grain quality, and nutrition.

Other pertinent topics included monitoring and evaluation; gender; varietal tracking and adoption; targeting and monitoring through GIS; and communication, awareness, and information sharing. The latter part was held as a plenary session on the second day followed by a session on STRASA's products and advancement strategies.

The plenary session of the Annual Review and Planning Meeting was held on the third day. The inaugural program was highlighted with remarks from Mr. Manoj Ahuja, principal secretary (agriculture), Government of Odisha; Prof. Surendranath Pasupalak, vice chancellor, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology; and Dr. J.S. Sandhu, deputy director general (crop science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

“Strong ownership and leadership from all of you make STRASA work,” said Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, STRASA's overall project leader and principal
scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “How we move varieties from one country to be released in another without further testing has not happened in the world before. This variety sharing is now a reality in South Asia,” he added, thanking the group for this milestone work.

“The success of STRASA is built on decades of hard work starting from the 1970s until today,” said Ismail. “The challenge for us is to keep this work progressing to provide solutions for the bigger challenges facing agriculture today, with a clear need for nutritious rice and profitable rice-based systems, which can survive worsening climate and soil conditions. The varieties being developed through STRASA provide an excellent entry for these system-based solutions.”

In his inaugural address, Dr. Gurbachan Singh, chairman, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, underscored the many activities that IRRI and India’s national agricultural research systems have achieved and continue to work on, from varietal development to rice biofortification. “STRASA has contributed significantly to boosting rice production while providing opportunities for all its participants and stakeholders to make better choices,” Singh said. He is looking forward to more project successes in bringing stress-tolerant varieties to farmers and in helping solve complex climate change-related problems.

Discussed at the plenary session were outputs and updates that came out of discussions during the first two days as well as progress in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The work in South Asia was presented by Dr. Uma Shankar Singh, STRASA South Asia regional coordinator; Dr. Baboucarr Manneh, STRASA coordinator in Africa, gave the African updates.

The last day of the event was capped with the planning meeting of a project associated with STRASA, the EC-IFAD-funded project, Improved Crop Management and Strengthened Seed Supply System for Drought-prone Rainfed Lowlands in South Asia. This was followed by the STRASA Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Workshop for South Asia. Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, IRRI senior scientist and rainfed lowland agronomist for South Asia, facilitated the EC-IFAD meeting. Dr. Hope Webber, M&E specialist and IRRI senior scientist, conducted the M&E workshop.

Wrapping up the event, Dr. Uma Shankar Singh thanked the 175 participants who attended the four-day event. He also acknowledged the hard work of the different STRASA teams and staff and the partners who contributed greatly to the project’s accomplishments to date.

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