Harnessing genetic diversity to chart new productivity, quality, and health horizons
IRRI provides small quantities of rice free of charge on demand to any individual or organization anywhere in the world for the purposes of research, breeding, or training for food and agriculture.
We share the rice seeds stored in our International Rice Genebank according to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). In the past five years, we have distributed 131,283 samples to 664 recipients in 64 countries. We also gratefully accept contributions of seed to add to our collection.
STEP 1: Get hold of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement. You can write to us so we can provide you one (see contacts below), or you can download the agreement here. It is also wise to examine and learn about the SMTA more.
STEP 2: Choose right type of rice
- If you want an accession from the genebank and you already know its accession ID (it has the format "IRGC" followed by a number), use it.
- If you want a line distributed through the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER), and you know the ID (it has the format "IRTP" followed by a number), use it.
- You may choose genebank accessions by searching in these databases: SINGER, or System-wide Information Network for Genetic Resources, a portal on rice accessions held by IRRI and AfricaRice; the IRGCIS, or the International Rice Genebank Collection Information System, for information on the genebank collections; and IRIS, or the International Rice Information System, a portal for information on rice cultivars.
- If you need help choosing, just send an email giving as much specific detail as possible of what you need, and we will search the database for the most suitable germplasm.
STEP 3: Obtain an import Permit. If your country requires one, obtain an import permit from your national authorities and send it to us.
STEP 4: Send phytosanitary instructions. Send us information or instructions on how the seeds should be tested and treated prior to shipment.
STEP 5: Genetic material organism (GMO) declaration. IRRI takes rigorous precautions to ensure that transgenic material does not unintentionally appear in non-transgenic rice, although we we do not currently test for their presence. We can issue you with a statement to this effect if you need a GMO declaration.
STEP 6: Submit your request. Send your request in writing (by email or by fax ), together with:
- your name;
- the person or organization who should be named as recipient in the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) (and who therefore will be legally responsible for complying with the terms and conditions of the MTA) : A) if you are employed by an organization and are requesting rice as part of your work, this will normally be your organization; B)if you are a farmer or anyone else making a personal request, this will normally be you;
- shipping address;
- any special shipping instructions you may have;
- a statement of the purpose for which you need the material;
- statement that you accept the MTA; and
- if you need the MTA to be printed and signed, even though this will delay the process, please tell us. Otherwise we will follow our normal, faster, less bureaucratic process with an unsigned “shrink-wrap” MTA (if you don’t know what that means, consult our guidance notes on the SMTA)
Send your request and pertinent documents to:
For germplasm in the International Rice Genebank:
Ms. Flora de Guzman
Telephone: +63-2-5805600 ext 2308
Dr. Edilberto Redoña
Telephone: +63-2-5805600 ext 2341
The SMTA is a standard agreement that sets out the terms and conditions under which plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are transferred from one person or organization (“the provider”) to another (“the recipient”) under the multilateral system of the ITPGRFA, (“the Treaty”).
Each use of the SMTA constitutes a contract between the Provider and the Recipient, and is legally binding under normal contract law regardless of their status or what countries they are based in. If you obtain rice from IRRI with an SMTA, the rights and obligations of the Recipient apply to you, while the rights and obligations of the Provider apply to IRRI.
When we send you seed with an SMTA, both you and we must know our respective rights and obligations - what we are permitted to do, what we must do, and what we must not do. The SMTA is a legal contract that defines those rights and obligations, and what will happen if they are not honoured. As a legal contract it can be difficult to understand, especially for the average scientist who is not trained in legal matters. However, we still need to understand as best we can what our respective rights and obligations are.
Attribution: This document has evolved from earlier FAQ developed jointly by the System-wide Genetic Resources Programme (SGRP) and legal experts on the Treaty. It also contains answers to other questions raised by and discussed with our collaborators and the same legal experts.
Disclaimer: We cannot provide authoritative answers, and cannot accept responsibility for any errors. In cases of doubt, definitive interpretations can be given only by the Governing Body of the Treaty, through which the text of the SMTA was negotiated, drafted, and finalized.
Like everyone, we have our limitations. Here are some things we can and can’t do:
- We are not a commercial seed supplier.But if you’re a farmer willing to spend a season or two growing your own seed, we can give you enough to get started.
- For us, wild rice means the wild species most closely related to cultivated rice.
- We can routinely supply only small quantities of seed, typically just 10g of each cultivated variety or type of rice, more for certain special networks and collaborators, less (10 grains) for wild rice.
- If you want us to send larger quantities, we can do it within limits but only if you are prepared to pay and wait while we produce it.
- We cannot guarantee to provide seed of any specific material. Some materials are temporarily unavailable, as we have to produce more stocks to replace what we've given away or deal with any seed health issues that may arise
- In most cases we cannot give any sort of warranty on the genetic identity of the material provided. Although we conserve seed to the highest possible international standards, it is in the nature of rice to be variable, especially the traditional varieties and wild species, and two samples of supposedly the same variety are often genetically different.
- 112,000 types of cultivated and wild rice securely conserved in the T.T. Chang Genetic Resources Centre (GRC) maintained in sufficient quantities to give to you on demand
- A variable set of elite lines specially selected each year for further trials to be distributed to our national partners through the International Network for the Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER)
- A further variable set of varieties, elite and promising lines, breeding lines or research materials held by other IRRI scientists, which are not necessarily securely conserved but which we will supply on demand if we have enough seed
- The SMTA sets out a number of rights and obligations of the Provider (us) and Recipient (you)
- Some of the rice we hold is subject to special contractual restrictions that may prohibit us from giving it to you
- Your country may have laws requiring us to test the health of the seed and certify it with a Phytosanitary Certificate
- Your country may have laws requiring you to obtain send an import permit