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Swiss Ambassador to PH meets with IRRI to discuss opportunities for collaboration

09 March 2021 ~ Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to the Philippines H.E. Alain Gaschen and his delegation made a “virtual” visit to IRRI to learn more about the institute’s global research and cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Swiss partners from academia and the private sector.

Due to Covid-19 global pandemic, Ambassador Gashen and his delegation, composed of Sr. Embassy Projects Officer and Assistant to the Ambassador Diana Pearl Chan, and Sr. Economic and Trade Officer Kent Primor, made the courtesy call through an arranged teleconference. 

They were warmly received by IRRI Director General Jean Balié and Research Director for Planning & Delivery Ajay Kohli. Also joining the meeting were Oliver Frith, Head of Business Development, and IRRI lead scientists Martin Gummert, Renaud Mathieu, Bjoern Ole Sander, Alice Laborte, and Melanie Connor. 

The Government of Switzerland has been a longtime partner and collaborator of IRRI in many key research areas. Since 1984, SDC has funded and supported over 30 projects and initiatives around the world, totalling over USD 50 million. 

Jean Balié introduced Ambassador Gaschen to IRRI and its work, the new OneCGIAR system, and listed key IRRI-SDC collaborations. Ajay Kohli followed with an overview of IRRI’s research across rice-based agri-food systems. IRRI lead scientists Martin Gummert, Alice Laborte, and Ole Sander delivered presentations on the SDC-funded CORIGAP project, the ongoing partnership in RIICE, and proposed collaborations in Methane Emission Reduction in Rice and Securing Asian Mega-Deltas.

After the presentations, Ambassador Gashen delivered his own message of thanks to the presenters and IRRI. The Embassy and IRRI committed to strengthen collaboration in the Philippines, particularly in relation to data analytics and remote sensing for potential applications in crop insurance, knowledge advocacy, and education. Ambassador Gaschen also highlighted the Embassy’s interest to facilitate export of sustainably produced rice from the Philippines to Switzerland under the Switzerland-Philippines Free Trade Agreement.

“The tireless work of IRRI and the various researchers, while unseen by the public, is crucial especially in these COVID times, to finding possible solutions to address hunger, malnutrition, poverty reduction, as well as highlighting efforts on improving sustainability and preserving biodiversity.” remarked Ambassador Gashen.