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Seed sharing initiative and climate change-resilient technologies to address food and nutrition security in Asia and Africa

VARANASI, India (14 June 2023) - Officials from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) to discuss the facilitation of the deployment of new rice varieties and technologies to more farmers across the world.

Coordinated by IRRI Deputy Director General for Research Ajay Kohli, ISARC Director Sudhanshu Singh, and IRRI Asia and Africa Advisor for Research and Partnerships Uma Shankar Singh, BMGF Global Growth & Opportunities Director Purvi Mehta, and Agriculture Development-Asia Senior Program Officer Siddhartha Chaturvedi met with IRRI scientists at ISARC in Varanasi.

The focal point of discussion was how ISARC and BMGF can work towards expanding Seeds Without Borders, a seed-sharing agreement, to more countries to quickly move high-yielding, nutritionally rich,  and stress-tolerant rice varieties so that more farmers across the globe, particularly in Africa,  could have access to the better quality of seeds of new improved varieties. 

Facilitated by IRRI with support from BMGF, Seeds Without Borders is a regional seed policy agreement that speeds up the distribution of modern rice varieties across countries in South and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam have signed this agreement.

ISARC scientists updated the BMGF Team on the status of research and development work on single and multiple stress-tolerant rice varieties, Zn-rich rice varieties, low and ultra-low glycemic index rice varieties suitable for diabetics, climate-resilient management technologies, innovative seed multiplication, and out-scaling strategies to take them quickly to the large.

More farmers could be benefitted through the seed-sharing initiative by expanding the agreement to more countries particularly in Africa, according to Dr. Mehta. She said Seeds Without Borders is one the best initiatives of One CGIAR through which multiple stakeholders can work towards the shared goals of poverty alleviation and hunger-reduction.

Dr. Mehta also urged IRRI scientists to work collaboratively to address the issues and challenges related to climate change along with ensuring food and nutritional security. She expressed her appreciation for the research and development work conducted at ISARC in collaboration with IRRI headquarters in the Philippines.