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Bayer partners with IRRI to advance technologies for direct-seeded rice in Asia

Singapore/Philippines, March 01, 2018 – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Bayer have signed an agreement confirming Bayer’s participation in the Direct Seeded Rice Consortium (DSRC) led by IRRI.

The DSR Consortium is developing a comprehensive, science-based, agronomic package adapted for direct seeded rice production in Asia, making direct seeded rice accessible and widely available to rice farmers, thereby enhancing the economic and ecological sustainability of rice production in Asia.

Manual puddled transplanted rice (PTR) is the predominant method of rice production in Asia. Despite benefits associated with this method including good weed control, PTR is a highly resource intensive (labor, water and energy) practice. Puddled flooded rice systems are also a major methane emitter – an important greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Drudgery involved in manually transplanting rice seedlings in paddy soil, a job which is largely done by women farmers, is also a concern. This contributes to the unwillingness of young people to enter the profession. All these factors are making PTR less sustainable, less profitable, and less attractive to farmers.

Direct seeded rice (DSR) has emerged as an efficient and economically viable alternative to PTR as it saves scarce and expensive resources such as labor and water, and reduces GHG emissions. Recently, DSR has been widely practiced in many Asian countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Many other countries including South Asia are going through this transition from manual transplanting to mechanized DSR. In future, with labor and water becoming increasingly scarce and expensive; alternative rice establishment methods which are labor and water efficient, such as DSR, will be the preferred method of rice cultivation.

IRRI has developed a unique technology platform and expertise that will be used to address technical questions and produce a science-based package of technical recommendations and good practices for the development of direct seeded rice in Asia. Closer public-private sector collaboration, as well as inputs from the private and NGO sectors, are required to enhance innovation and optimize a science-based integrated approach on all aspects of direct seeded rice technology. The new DSRC aims at providing a new momentum for such multi-sectoral collaboration to address complex issues related to direct seeded rice.

“Bayer is pleased to partner with IRRI to promote direct seeded rice in Asia. Rice is gold for the smallholder farmers in Asia – it is more than just food for them; it is also their livelihood. In line with our smallholder farming initiative, we are happy to join the DSRC, and contribute to the development and promotion of direct seeded rice production through various innovations such as our SeedGrowth offering, mechanization and digital farming solutions, as well as linking up value chain partners and service providers to the farmers who would have no access otherwise,” said Simon-Thorsten Wiebusch, Country Group Head for Southeast Asia, Crop Science, Bayer who also sits on the Advisory Board of the DSRC.

“Innovation in technology is essential to nourish the world in a safe, inclusive and sustainable way. To improve food security and sustainability, all stakeholders - public and private - must work together and share their expertise. Our new Public Private Partnership, the DSR Consortium, will contribute to improved resource management that will benefit rice farmers and the environment. It will also provide an effective, science-based assessment of new technologies relevant to direct seeding, and impact acceleration of the most promising technologies,” said Dr Remy Bitoun, Head of IRRI Tech Transfer.

The DSRC platform aims to improve crop management practices to maximize the advantages of direct seeded rice. In addition, the DSRC will publicize science-based information on DSR rice technology, including better information to help policymakers define national rice development strategies. Capacity building activities and training activities will also be conducted for both the public and private sectors.

Under the agreement, Bayer will provide access to Bayer-owned genetic materials (hybrids), seed and drone technologies, as well as in-kind activities for DSRC research and testing.

The DSRC will also contribute to the Sustainable Rice Platform’s objectives.

About the International Rice Research Institute

The International Rice Research Institute is a nonprofit, autonomous, nonpolitical, international organization established in 1960 under international treaty, with a mission to reduce poverty and hunger through rice science, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers and ensure environmental sustainability through collaborative research, partnerships and strengthening of national agricultural research and extension systems.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2016, the Group employed around 99,600 people and had sales of EUR 34.9 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.2 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.4 billion. For more information, go to