In 2018, IRRI broke new ground with a range of achievements and activities. The institute strengthened its presence in new territories with the openings of the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre in India and the Africa Regional Office in Kenya. We secured landmark
partnerships and funding from important stakeholders, like the Global Crop Diversity Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).In research we expanded the frontiers of rice science through advances in climatesmart tolerances, new populations and parental lines in hybrid rice, and big data for rice breeding.
IRRI continues to be the lead center for the RICE CRP joined by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and hundreds of other partners across the globe. The RICE CRP has been approved for operation through 2021.
Despite budget cuts in the CGIAR Fund in 2018, IRRI’s financial position remains stable, with total assets of USD 83.829 million compared with USD 87.896 million in 2017. The decrease of USD 4.067 million was offset by a corresponding decrease in liabilities and a decrease in net assets. IRRI had a net deficit of USD 2.369 million. However, the liquidity and long-term stability indicators remained above CGIAR benchmarks.
In 2018, IRRI’s grant portfolio was USD 67.464 million, which included USD 4.623 million of RICE CRP Windows 1 and 2 funds for the flagship expenses of our CGIAR partners, AfricaRice and CIAT. IRRI continued to successfully attract significant new donor investments to further its mission as well as to cover gaps due to the reductions in the CGIAR Fund budget in 2018.
In 2017, the Institute began converting its financial reporting to align with the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). Full adoption of IFRS required the restatement of IRRI's 2016 Financial Statements and the 2015 Statement of Financial Position, which had been previously prepared in compliance with established CGIAR financial guidelines. In 2018, IRRI's financial statements became fully compliant. So, IRRI's financial statements are now aligned with international quality standards for financial reporting that are recognized inter alia by donors, the banking industry, partners, and potential collaborators. Further, compliance to this standard allows for comparability with other organizations and enhances the annual audit report.
IRRI’s cutting-edge science is widely reflected in the public record, especially through high-impact journals. For example, in the Plant Biotechnology Journal a new study led by IRRI scientists is predicting genetic regions that influence the glycemic index and texture of rice. Our scientists’ discovery of variations in the SWEET genes that make rice resistant to devastating bacterial blight was featured in PLOS One. In Nature, we reported on the genomic variation in 3,010 diverse accessions of Asian-cultivated rice.
Throughout 2018, IRRI scientists published 223 scientific refereed journal articles, with nearly half of them available immediately through open access. Overall, IRRI’s impact factor is increasing in quality and quantity, with a strong upward trend year after year.
KEY PROGRAMS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Started in 2007, the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) Project, created in collaboration with the BMGF and AfricaRice, is winding down its 10-year goal to uplift smallholder farmers’ livelihoods by the development and delivery of improved rice
varieties tolerant of abiotic stresses. The project’s key achievements include the production and distribution of over 500,000 tons of stress-tolerant seeds to an estimated 18 million farmers, and the establishment of expansive and robust platforms for varietal knowledge enhancement, training, national and regional networks for product evaluation, seed production, and delivery.
Also concluding its Phase III stage in 2018 is the Green Super Rice (GSR) Project, an IRRI initiative in collaboration with the Chinese government and other partners. The development of GSR cultivars, a mix of over 500 rice varieties and hybrids that perform well with less inputs and provide multiple tolerances from biotic and abiotic stresses, are seen as an important adaptation strategy to climate change. Building on the work of the previous phases, Phase III achievements include the development and dissemination of hundreds of inbred and hybrid GSR varieties in various countries across Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa, with more than a million hectares devoted to these climate-smart cultivars.
Top infrastructure advancements this year are the inauguration of the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre in Varanasi, India, and the opening of the Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. These new IRRI hubs will help strengthen and augment our research expertise, technology transfer, and capacity building activities in these regions, as well as facilitate South-South collaboration and multi-sectoral and public-private partnerships.
Operating within our commitments as a public institution, IRRI is developing equitable collaborations with private sector partners in order to harness key innovations that can advance our goals. An agreement with Corteva Agriscience will accelerate both parties’
rice breeding efforts by the sharing of key technologies, while an agreement with Computomics will allow their machine learning AI to access data from our rice geneback and predict potential breeding crosses faster and more efficiently.
A major accomplishment in 2018 in the area of infrastructure was securing perpetual financial support from Global Crop Diversity Trust for the maintenance and operation of the International Rice Genebank. The grant, amounting to a generous USD1.4 million annually in perpetuity (provided we maintain set benchmarks) is a significant achievement for IRRI, as we are the first CGIAR center to receive such an agreement, attesting to the high standards and quality of our genebank operations.
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS
In 2018, IRRI completed the second year of its compelling Strategic Plan, which is designed to transform lives through the global rice sector. The Board congratulates the staff, which has admirably and successfully dealt with the many changes and challenges
that the plan has brought.
In addition to the committed staff and management, the Board earnestly thanks IRRI’s partners, donors, and investors for their amazing support for helping the Institute realize its indispensable mission.
IRRI Board of Trustees