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Regional symposium in IRRI SARC with private sector partners -- ‘Transforming rice grain quality and nutrition in South Asia’

7 March 2019, Varanasi, India: The International Rice Research Institute’s South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) organized a regional symposium on ‘Transforming Rice Grain Quality and Nutrition in South Asia’, inviting private sector representatives from the seed industry, milling, crop protection, agri digital and genomic services, traders, and the FMCG sector.  The day-long event saw private sector leaders from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal engaging with IRRI scientists.

“IRRI SARC , through its suite of modern laboratories and training facilities, is advancing the exchange of technical know-how in rice research, to encourage collaboration between partners in the region, as well as for value addition to rice and rice-based agri-food systems.  By collaborating with the public and private sector we will be able to optimise efforts in rice science, research, nutritional enhancement, and market linkages,” said Dr. Arvind Kumar, IRRI SARC Director.

IRRI Tech Transfer furthered IRRI SARC’s objectives by detailing products and services that can facilitate collaboration with private sector organizations, while aligning  with IRRI’s mission goals. Elaborating on the private sector’s larger role in the rice value chain, Dr. Nafees Meah, Regional Representative for IRRI-South Asia said, “There is a need for building resilient rice-based systems that can adapt to climate change and water stresses like drought and floods. Agriculture is transitioning from subsistence to commercial farming across South Asia. Therefore the private sector has an important role for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular better nutrition for consumers.”

Dr. Ajay Panchbhai, Senior Manager of IRRI Tech Transfer said, “IRRI, through IRRI SARC’s Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA), is offering validation and analytical services for assessing rice grain quality; models for research and development collaboration by way of a a consortium; training programs and similarly grain quality and nutritional consultancy services to private sector partners in South Asia.”

A state-of-the-art research facility, IRRI SARC fosters South-South cooperation in rice and rice science as a platform for strengthening public-private partnerships in agriculture, optimising technology, resource inputs, processing and market promotion, risk management, knowledge exchange, and training for key stakeholders. For tackling the varied agri-challenges in the region to optimise research for farmers and consumers alike, it is critical to encourage collaborative solutions with inputs from research & development organizations as well as private and public sectors.

The symposium featured technical sessions on grain quality assessment, sensory evaluation, and novel areas of rice market research, delivered by IRRI experts and grain quality scientists from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, and also from private sector leaders in the agri-food value chain, rice seed industry, millers, exporters, and FMCG.

Dr. Vijay Kumar Rajoli, Rice - R&D Lead for Bioseed Research India Pvt Ltd. highlighted constraints being faced by the hybrid rice seed industry in India, like higher seed cost, less preferred grain quality, and moderate levels of yield gains. He emphasized the need to develop high yielding rice hybrid varieties with acceptable grain quality.

Mr. Afzal Husain, Senior General Manager, Metal Agro Limited said, “There is need to have diversified germplasm to develop suitable rice varieties that can cater to needs of Bangladeshi farmers. More intensive training of key stakeholders in advanced technologies will help in bridging rice production gaps in the country,” he added.

Discussions were also held on opportunities for collaboration on advanced research and training for value addition in rice-based agri food systems, seed and grain quality enhancement, and rice breeding. There was also a visit to CERVA’s suite of modern laboratories for grain quality assessment, nutritional value, and sensory evaluations for grain taste, texture, and aroma; and a field tour to IRRI’s demonstration field, showcasing to private sector partners the genetic diversity of some of the traditional rice varieties being grown.

IRRI SARC is IRRI’s new regional hub for excellence in rice research, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, on 29 December 2018. The centre offers grain quality solutions to industry and other key stakeholders, while focusing also on enhancing food nutrition for end-consumers.

For media inquiries, contact Debjani Samantaray, Sr. Specialist-Core Communications, IRRI India, at