Aussie envoy lauds IRRI’s climate change research facility

January 22, 2016 10:45 am 

By Saul E. Pa-a

LOS BANOS, Laguna Jan. 21 (PNA) — Australia’s newly-designated Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely lauded on Thursday the newest state-of-the-art climate change research facility as a major boost to global rice production.

Gorely, during her visit at the sprawling International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) complex here, expressed elation on her first out-of-town visit to this premier global rice research institution for the dedication ceremony of the Australian-funded infrastructure Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility (PGF).

The Australian envoy said her government, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), was engaged on a technical level through Australian scientists and experts who have embarked into various consultative international agricultural researches.

The lady ambassador, accompanied by Melissa Wood, general manager for Global Programs for ACIAR and Cecilia Honrado, ACIAR country manager for the Philippines was welcomed by another Australian Dr. Matthew Morell who serves as IRRI’s current Director-General along with the Institute’s top officials.

Gorely cited the Australian government’s support to research through ACIAR in the country since 1983, including funding and technical support for researches undertaken by IRRI in a bid to contribute to a bountiful and global rice supply.

She underscored that “Australia places importance on rice research knowing some 3.5 billion of the world population are consumers of the rice staple and therefore it is imperative that developments on rice production could meet increasing global demands for rice consumption.”

She said ACIAR and IRRI had been close partners in many projects since 1963 such as the identification and validation of functional matters on germplasm to reduce chalk in rice breeding materials; diversification and intensification of rice-based systems in lower Burma (now Myanmar) and improved rice germplasm for various agroecological systems in Cambodia and Australia.

Australia also involved in building scientific capacity, where about 60 Australians have completed degrees, among them three PhDs and three masteral degrees and short training courses at IRRI from 1969 to 2015.

IRRI also disclosed that its International Rice Genebank received 178 types of cultivated rice and 86 types of wild rice from Australian partners in a bid to conserve rice genetic diversity.

Gorely also said that the Australian government, through ACIAR, has provided funding support to reduce poverty and hunger through rice science including annual grants for 2015 to 2016 amounting to Aus$ 23 million and another Aus$ 20 million to support the Lloyd T. Evans climate change research facility and other infrastructures.

The latest IRRI facility was named after Australian plant physiologist Lloyd T. Evans, then chief of the Division of Plant Industry at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) from 1971 to 1978 and president of the Australian Academy of Science from 1978 to 1982.

Evans served as member of the IRRI Board of trustees from 1984 to 1989 and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

Mr. Evans’ son, Dr. John R. Evans, head of the Division of Plant Sciences of the Australian National University was in town for his fourth visit to the country along with the Evans family for the special dedication ceremony and tour of the facility. (PNA)

RMA/ZAT/SAUL E. PA-A/RSM

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