A new agreement to promote sustainable agriculture in developing countries was signed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The organizations will share scientific and technical knowledge, promote capacity building activities, and assist in government strategizing, with an emphasis on benefiting small-scale farmers and women.
“With over 3 billion people across the globe eating rice every day, rice is critical to global food security,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General. “Ensuring sustainable rice production is a key contribution to the global goal of ending hunger. By teaming up with IRRI, already a long-standing partner, we will be able to scale up, complement and amplify our work towards reaching this goal.”
The stated goals of the FAO are to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition, eliminate poverty while promoting economic and social progress for all, and sustainably manage and use natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Currently, two major rice-related FAO efforts are underway. First is the Asia and Pacific’s Regional Rice Initiative, and second, the Partnership for Sustainable Rice Systems Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are sharing technology, agricultural and pest management practices, and strategies to increase rice resilience and production efficiency.
“The world faces very significant changes over the next few decades to produce the volume and quality of nutritious food to feed a global population heading for 10 billion people,” said Matthew K. Morell, IRRI Director-General. “Addressing these issues relies on global partnerships, and today, IRRI is delighted to be reaffirming through this Memorandum of Agreement our commitment to work with FAO to enhance sustainable rice-based production and food systems through awareness raising, capacity development, knowledge exchange, and evidence-based analyses for policy support.”
IRRI is a nonprofit research and educational institute founded by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and the Philippine government in 1960. Its goals are to reduce poverty and hunger through rice science, improve rice farmer and consumer health and welfare, and ensure the environmental sustainability of rice production. Today, IRRI has offices in 17 countries and collaborates with a variety of research partners including the food security research partnership CGIAR. Working with the United Nations Environment, IRRI developed the Sustainable Rice Platform to promote resource efficiency, sustainability, and affordability through policy development and voluntary market transformation initiatives.
By working together, the FAO and IRRI seek to increase availability and use of improved and adapted rice variety seeds. To increase nutrition and improve the income of small-scale farmers, they will develop and commercialize rice by-products. Through farmer field schools and other forms of outreach, they will better educate farmers in best-practices, including pest management. They will also work to improve working conditions for rice farmers and improve women participation and entrepreneurial opportunities.