Phnom Penh November 3, 2020 –Yurdi Yasmi, the regional representative for Southeast Asia of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), paid a courtesy call on the Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires in Cambodia today. During the meeting with Her Excellency Myca Magnolia Fischer, Dr. Yasmi conveyed the institute’s gratitude to the Philippine government for hosting IRRI’s headquarters since its founding in 1960.
Ms. Fischer acknowledged the importance of IRRI’s research-for-development in rice-based agrifood systems. She was also appreciative of IRRI’s programs in Cambodia that includes, among other, sustainable rice production, capacity building, mechanization and climate change. IRRI has been a conduit for linkages between the Philippines and Cambodia on various rice-related initiatives.
“We have a commitment to build the capacity of Cambodia’s agriculture and, in the past, we have provided scholarships for trainings in the Philippines” said Ms. Fischer.
Dr. Rica Flor, an IRRI scientist based in Cambodia, and Ms. Sreyvanna Yath, IRRI Cambodia administrative manager also attended the meeting. Some critical challenges related to agriculture discussed during courtesy call were the ageing crisis in farming and the lack of interest from the youth in agriculture as other sectors, such as manufacturing, offer more competitive opportunities. Many rural parents also expect and encourage their children to find non-agriculture jobs.
Despite this, rice remains the most important staple in the world and is consumed by four billion people underlying the huge potential of the rice-agrifood value chains job market. Agricultural technologies, as well as innovative processes and services, will be important new areas that will open opportunities to engage the younger generation in agriculture more proactively. Additionally, improving agricultural infrastructure such as storage, irrigations, and roads will be crucial as well.
Ms. Fischer and Dr. Yurdi Yasmi committed to continue the exchange of information between IRRI and the Embassy of the Philippines in Phnom Penh and pursue future collaborations.
Both IRRI and the Philippines have common interest in capacity building for agriculture, an area that needs to be strengthened further. Based on an evaluation commissioned by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research in 2011, IRRI’s long standing partnership with the Philippines has contributed an additional USD 52.00 per hectare from 1985 to 2009, representing a significant contribution to rice farmers in the country. Through a Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) rice program, IRRI donated 13 tons of high-yielding rice seeds to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The seeds were delivered to seed growers and members of the Irrigators’ Association and the Community Seed Bank Cooperatives in Leyte and Samar. The DA and its agencies, particularly the Philippine Rice Research Institute, work closely with IRRI on several projects to help improve rice production. IRRI’s work is further supported by other DA agencies, national agencies, local governments, NGOs, universities, and experts in the country
The Philippines also plays a strategic role through the institute’s Board of Trustees, with two ex officio positions set aside for Filipinos: the secretary of agriculture and the president of the University of the Philippines (UP) System. Through a stronger partnership with the Philippines, IRRI can synergize its initiatives in Cambodia.
To learn more about IRRIs’ work in Southeast Asia please click here.