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Thailand welcomes One CGIAR, seeks more rice research collaboration

Deputy Permanent Secretary Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative (MOAC) welcomed the newly formed One CGIAR in a meeting between representatives of the Thai government and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on 15 October 2020. 

During the meeting, Mr. Chandarasrivongs expressed hope that the new arrangement will bring more resources to agricultural research. The four areas that Thailand would like to seek more support from IRRI in the future are:

  1. Strengthening the training center in Suphanburi to be a regional training hub

  2. Creating a gene bank network in the Mekong Region 

  3. Developing a Rice Storage Network to complement the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve mechanism which is a “virtual stockpile” of rice pledged by signatory nations

  4. Developing technologies for soil remediation and sustainable soil health oration

One CGIAR is a dynamic reformulation of CGIAR’s global partnerships, knowledge, assets, and global presence, aiming for greater integration and impact in the face of the interdependent challenges facing today’s world.  IRRI Director General Matthew Morell assured Mr. Chandarasrivongs that One CGIAR will bring together a holistic agenda across food and nutritional security, climate change, the environment, livelihoods and prosperity, and gender and youth empowerment in agriculture.

Facilitated by Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, a member of the IRRI Board of Trustee, the meeting was attended by 14 delegates from Thailand including Mr. Ratchasub Nishida, chief advisor to Deputy Minister of MOAC and Dr. Chitnucha Buddhaboon, director of the Bureau of Rice Policy and Strategy under the Rice Department. In addition to Dr. Morell, Dr. Yurdi Yasmi, IRRI regional representative for Southeast Asia represented IRRI.

Rice holds significant economic and cultural importance in Thailand. Thailand is one of the world’s top rice producers and exporters. Rice production contributes around 15% to the country’s agricultural GDP, and in 2018 the country exported over 10.3 million metric tons of rice, second only to India. It is the country’s most important food crop, grown by over 60% of Thailand’s 13 million farmers in more than half of the nation’s 50 million hectares of agricultural land.  Rice is also the staple food of the Thai people, with each person consuming an average of 115 kilograms per year, and the country’s rice sector enjoys royal patronage from the Royal Thai Family. Thailand’s native jasmine rice consistently ranks as among the best rice in the world, 

IRRI and Thailand started their collaboration in 1960, the year the institute was established, to improve rice production, plant breeding, and enhance the capacity of Thai rice researchers. His Royal Highness Prince M.C. Chakrabandhu became a founding member of the IRRI Board of Trustees while His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit visited IRRI in 1963 to show their support for the institute. The IRRI Thailand office was established in 1966.

CGIAR is a global partnership of 15 organizations conducting research for a food-secure future. Other organizations under CGIAR include Africa Rice Center, Center for International Forestry Research, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, International Food Policy Research Institute, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, International Livestock Research Institute, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, International Potato Center, International Water Management Institute, The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, World Agroforestry, and WorldFish. These organizations will continue to work together to address food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and improvement of quality of life, gender equality and social inclusion, climate change, and environment and biodiversity.

To learn more about IRRI program in Thailand click here