The following article was in the latest issue of the Teas A&M Plant Breeding Bulletin July 2011. I asked the editor of the bulletin Wayne Smith and the student featured in the story (Trey Cutts) if I could share it here as I think the information and photos are very compelling.
“Rice: Research to Production” is a 3-week intensive course that took place at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines from May 16th to June 3rd, 2011. Ten U.S. participants were selected to attend the course which is co-sponsored by Cornell University and supported by a National Science Foundation grant. The purpose of the course is to create a new generation of plant scientists that are well networked into the international community and understand the importance of innovative plant science in addressing global problems. The course is organized by Dr. Susan McCouch (Plant Breeding and Genetics Professor, Cornell University), Dr. Noel Magor (Head of IRRI Training Center), and Dr. Hei Leung (IRRI Senior Scientist).
Texas A&M University plant breeding student Trey Cutts, a Ph.D. candidate under the direction of Drs. Jane Dever and Wayne Smith, was selected to attend “Rice: Research to Production” as one of 27 participants representing 15 countries and 10 U.S. universities. The course provided the participants with the following: an understanding of the basics of rice production; familiarity with the germplasm collection at IRRI; appreciation of the research issues of IRRI and its development partners; hands-on skills relating to rice breeding, molecular genetics and genomics; an understanding of how to structure effective international collaborations; and personal contacts and insight as how to work effectively as part of the international research community in the future. By ‘getting their feet wet in the rice paddies of Asia’, participants get an intimate feeling for the rice plant in its native environment. Field activities included rice paddy preparation, transplanting, harvesting and post-harvest methodology. Daily lectures from IRRI scientists discussed a wide range of agriculture topics and disciplines which aimed to create an understanding of addressing global problems in agriculture, energy, and the environment.
Participants were also given weekend socio-economic tours to different rice growing regions in the Philippines including the Banawe Rice Terraces, a World Historic Site. The trip was attended by a representative from Digital Green, a company that combines technology and social organization to improve existing agricultural extension systems. Participants were given the task of digitally documenting local farming practices that could be used for extension efforts in disseminating information.
Participants were trained on cross-cultural interviewing skills and video production. Four groups made short films that documented proper weed control, water management, milling, and seed storage methods that occur in the rice terrace systems. This exercise provided true perspective of hurtles that exist in international agricultural development while providing instruction on the cutting edge technology that helps to ascend these hurdles.
“Rice: Research to Production” offered not only an extensive education of rice science, but also allowed those that attended to see world agriculture from new perspectives. As Dr. Susan McCouch describes, “It’s an invitation to connect your skills and your heart and your mind with something very powerful, which is a group of fun-loving, motivated people trying to work together to address some of the really challenging problems that the world is facing in the years ahead.”
If you are interested in learning more about IRRI, you may want to read posts about my visit there while on vacation in 2010.
- Public Plant Breeding in the Philippines Plant breeding was one of those fields of study & science that I hadn’t given much thought to til I was older than I’d like to admit, especially since some of my closest friends are plant breeders these days! My friend Albert had worked at The Philippines National Institute for Plant Breeding (IPB) in Los […]
- Getting Your Word Out Globally Without Global Costs In my most recent post about “rice world,” I gave a quick view of my visit at the International Rice Research Institute. Since I was going there with a couple of PhDs in plant breeding, I anticipated meeting with scientists (which was exactly what happened in a few other Los Banos institutes)! But I was […]
- How many kinds of rice do you know? It’s amazing to me how many kinds of rice there are. I racked my brain trying to think of the ones I could name last week & came up REALLY SHORT! Long-grain rice is probably what I know best cause it’s what most of the farmers I know grow. Varieties like cypress, some of the […]
- Getting My Bearings on The Philippines Central Plains Another post in my series on Philippine agriculture — this one includes the basics of the Central Plains. As I mentioned before, the host for part of my vacation owns a seed company in The Philippines. We were excited to be going to a field day his company was hosting. I didn’t know what the […]