US Ambassador Philip Goldberg visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna, hosted by IRRI Director General Dr. Robert Zeigler.
The visit underlined the importance of the United States’ continued support for scientific work that improves the lives of people around the world. Ambassador Goldberg and Dr. Zeigler discussed IRRI’s work to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure the environmental sustainability of rice farming. Ambassador Goldberg was also eager to discuss the impact Typhoon Lando had on rice production about IRRI’s research to mitigate the damage caused by the typhoon.
During the tour, Ambassador Goldberg visited the International Rice Genebank that currently holds over 100,000 rice varieties, which are maintained for the global good and available for research. He also visited IRRI laboratories where scientists gave an overview of current research projects aimed at increasing rice yields in areas prone to environmental stresses (e.g. flood and drought).
One research project of note is the C4 Project, headed by Dr. Paul Quick. The C4 Project’s focus is to enhance the photosynthetic process of rice, increasing the amount of energy a rice plant can use to grow grain. This effort could potentially double average rice yields.
The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations initiated funding for IRRI in 1960, to cover the first years of the Institute’s operations and capital costs. The US government became a donor to IRRI when the US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided a grant in 1965. USAid has since been a major supporter of IRRI’s work in developing agriculture equipment suited for Asia’s small-scale rice farms.
Total US government funding through USAid and the US Department of Agriculture has exceeded $229 million as of 2014.
For more information about IRRI research and development please visit their website irri.org.