Working together to advance rice varietal evaluation and release
The International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER) is a global network for the evaluation of advanced pre-variety breeding lines developed by rice breeding programs at IRRI and National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) partner organizations who are involved in rice breeding and research. INGER is an open access initiative commenced by IRRI in 1975 as the International Rice Testing Program (IRTP).
Benefits from INGER
- INGER helps NARES partners to access diverse rice germplasm for fast tracking varietal release; enabling breeding programs to release varieties even if they do not have crossing and selection infrastructure.
- It supports faster access to advanced breeding lines through advanced breeding methods and selection.
- Since IRRI breeding programs continually develop new rice breeding lines through crosses utilizing breeding lines which carry farmer and end user desired characters, NARES partners get access to new genetic combinations annually through pre-tested germplasm. These germplasm are evaluated in the local NARES environments to capture differences in Genotype x Environment x Management practices and select best performing pre-variety breeding lines for nomination to national variety release systems.
- INGER through sharing of higher performance pre-variety rice breeding lines and evaluation in local NARES environments and selections for high performance including higher yields, supports national goals towards rice self-sufficiency and enables updating of rice reserves for need during crises such as floods, droughts, and other natural calamities. This has a significant impact on food security.
- Economists from the University of Yale, Evenson, and Gollin in 1997 estimated that each released variety contributes US$2.5 M annually to the global economy.
- INGER as a long term program continues to support Sustainable Development Goals such as Zero Hunger, Improved livelihood by providing rice varieties with higher performance and climate resilience.
- INGER has trained several thousand scientists directly at IRRI HQ based in Los Banos, or through workshops held bi annually in various advancement in breeding methods and selections. INGER continues to enhance the scientific capacity of the NARES partners through scientific visits and virtual meetings.
- Since its founding, the INGER program has provided more than 70,000 breeding lines developed by IRRI and NARES partners in 600 research stations and 85 countries. INGER has facilitated more than 1,300 varieties in rice producing countries and numerous popular rice varieties which contain IRRI-developed germplasm as one or both of the parents. and enable farmers to get varieties with desired characters and end users to utilize higher quality rice. Several varieties tested through the INGER program including IR 8, IR 64, IR 36, IR 72, IRRI 154, IRRI 156 have been performing very well across several countries.
- NARES partners such as India, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Uganda, Bangladesh have all contributed pre-variety germplasm to INGER for free distribution to the NARES partners. Such a partnership has led to access to pre-variety germplasm to many aspirational development countries and developed countries to strengthen the rice research as a whole and increase genetic diversity of rice benefitting all users along the supply chain.
- In ASEAN alone INGER evaluation has led to over 430 varieties being released. Some of the best performers have been IR 64, IR 72, IR 36 which have been mega varieties and varieties such as IRRI 154, IRRI 156 have performed across countries like the Philippines, contributing to food self sufficiency and security.
- In India, 25% of High Yielding Varieties (HYV) have been due to evaluation under the INGER program. Over 250 varieties with INGER-derived parents have been released in 24 Indian states. India has contributed several hundred rice lines to INGER.
- In China, 246 inbreds and 34 hybrids have been developed using INGER materials directly or indirectly. From 1981–2012, 16.6M hectares planted to INGER-derived materials produced 6.2M tons valued at US$53M. Over 13,000 inbred lines were sent to China for evaluation, over 2,600 lines have been utilized in crosses, and 560 Chinese varieties have been nominated to INGER by China.
- INGER’s impact is even more pronounced in smaller and newer breeding programs. Percentages of varietal releases directly or indirectly traceable to INGER were 73% for Nepal, 72% for Myanmar, 61% for Indonesia, and 51% for Cambodia.
- INGER has helped IRRI generate impact even in countries not covered by major projects such as STRASA.
How INGER works
1. IRRI and NARES public sector institutions contribute advanced lines to INGER. These advanced lines are sent to IRRI by NARES with appropriate Standard Material Transfer Agreements (SMTA) originating from FAO. Breeding materials sent to IRRI for INGER purpose under SMTA from any organization or country are automatically considered for distribution to INGER partners. These entries can not be restricted in any way including for commercialization. If such a set of breeding lines are received at IRRI, due to the basic premise of the INGER, which is open germplasm sharing, IRRI will either request the organization to alter the SMTA or send it back to the organization at the cost to the organization.
2. INGER is a rice germplasm evaluation network. It only distributes seeds in the form of trials for evaluation and does not send individual seed packets for any traits. For individual packets of rice germplasm kindly contact IRRI Gene Bank and not INGER. INGER caters for public sector organizations for rice research and breeding. It does not produce or share seed commercially.
3. Seeds are multiplied at IRRI whether received from IRRI breeders or through nominations from NARES. All seeds are subjected to quarantine required testing at IRRI Seed Health Unit (SHU) for seed health as per Philippines Bureau of Plant Industries (BPI) guidelines and regulations. Download link to IRRI Seed Health Unit here.
4. The trial types are Irrigated, Rainfed, Upland as three predominant ecosystems, Blast, Bacterial Blight, Tungro as predominant diseases types, Brown Plant Hopper as a predominant pest and drought, flood, salinity, cold tolerance selections for abiotic stresses, High level of Zinc in the grain as nutritional enhancement.
5. Data from breeders and SHU are utilized and selections are done for different trial types at IRRI by the Head of INGER. Trial lists are prepared and trial designs are done at IRRI utilizing best practices.
6. IRRI will send a request for NARES partners to request the trial types required each year and provides the list of trial types available each year for sharing from IRRI. NARES partners also can nominate entries to INGER for different trial types however these have to be subject to quarantine and seed multiplication requirements.
7. NARES partners request trials annually for evaluation 6-8 months in advance to assist IRRI in seed multiplication and planning.
8. NARES trial collaborators receive trials only after the IRRI INGER team receives trial request, import permits and acceptance of SMTA and IRRI Open Material Transfer Agreement (OMTA) which contains IRRI specific clauses. All import permits are developed and applied for by the NARES focal person collaborator in each country.
9. NARES partners and Cooperators evaluate the trials under appropriate ecosystems or biotic and or abiotic hotspots to conduct selections for the region. IRRI provides data sheets, trial layout based on the design, for sowing and data collection. IRRI also provides character rating guidelines as per the Standard Evaluation System (SES) developed at IRRI. NARES partners can also attend Rice Production Training courses at IRRI to enhance their knowledge and information apart from interaction with the INGER team. Download SES latest PDF version here.
10. NARES partners use the best lines for direct varietal release as per their national variety release systems or as parents in hybridization or for co-development of lines through crosses.
Obtaining germplasm from INGER
- INGER germplasm is sent under FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). Download the official page here. Several countries are signatory to the Treaty. Download to check if your country is a signatory
- To facilitate the sharing and exchange of the germplasm developed by various organizations across several countries which are not yet released as a variety in the public domain but still under development (PGRFA under development: PGRFA-UD) FAO developed a Multi Lateral System. Download the official page for Text of the Treaty download Multi Lateral System (MLS) here,
- To assist the countries to exchange germplasm under the multilateral system, FAO has developed Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). SMTA allows organizations in countries to record and share germplasm among organizations for research and development purposes with or without extra attached conditions in alignment with the FAO guidelines as the treaty. Download Text of SMTA here.
- Study the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) carefully, and verify that you are able to comply with it. Consult FAO SMTA Guide here. Consult IRRI guide here IRRI SMTA guide. IRRI follows the “Shrink Wrap System as per FAO guide page 55. IRRI will also send a Open Material Transfer Agreement (OMTA) with specific conditions set by IRRI for its Intellectual Property Management as per CGIAR guidelines.
- For nominations to INGER please first communicate first with the Head of INGER under Experts. INGER team will guide you.
- Nomination procedure is here. International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER),
- Please use the SMTA link above and develop an SMTA for your organization with signature from the Authorized person in your organization approving the SMTA. Scan it and send it to the Head of INGER. Only after approval by INGER team proceed to send seed in compliance with quarantine and customs requirements. Please do not send seed without proper quarantine and intellectual property procedures. Individual researchers are requested not to send seed to INGER without prior communication with INGER Head and also without necessary compliance procedures.
- All seed nominated to INGER must be approved by an authorized person in a particular organization for the sharing and distribution to INGER members without any restrictions by the nominating organization. All germplasm must be accompanied by the documented information for claiming the ownership of the germplasm, quarantine and customs compliance information.
- Nominating organizations must be the owners and developers of the PGRFA-UD. All germplasms are property of the organizations not individuals of the organizations. Hence even a breeder will not own the rights to a particular rice breeding germplasm.
- Individual farmers are not allowed to nominate any line to INGER and INGER will not provide germplasm to individuals including farmers.
- Only improved rice breeding lines PGRFA-UD and pre-released improved varieties are part of INGER network. Land races, heritage rice, wild rice, Genetically Modified Organisms, Gene Edited Organisms are not part of INGER.
All requests for INGER trials must come from Authorized person from the organization who is employed by the organization. Requests must be sent at least 6-8 months prior to sowing time with additional time added for obtaining import permits and other clearances.
Students must send nominations through their supervisors only. Junior Scientists must send requests through their supervisors. Consultants must send it through an authorized scientist in the organization where they are consultants. The procedure for request is here. Send request by email together with the following:
- Name of the requester with desiganion and organizational details
- A statement of the purpose for which you need the material. Project proposal brief with names or multi organizations if needed. If the project involves private organization it must be disclosed. IRRI will not send germplasm to private sector under INGER network.
- A statement that SMTA accepted by the authorized person in the organization.
- The person or organization who should be named as recipient in SMTA
- An import permit, if needed
- GMO free certification if required.
- Phytosanitary instructions (commonly included with the import permit)
- Shipping particulars if any. IRRI will generally send seed through double layered cardboard boxes housing the seed packed in sealed plastic bags.
- Shipping address with any special shipping instructions if any