GUWAHATI, Aug 23: Philippines –based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Director General Dr. Matthew Morell on Thursday highlighted the innovate-catalyze – transform framework of IRRI wherein IRRI innovates new technologies and utilises partnerships as a catalyst to transform peoples’ lives.
In a high level meeting with officials of Assam government, World Bank and the Assam Agriculture University (AAU) here on Thursday, Morell went on to say that productive linkages with stakeholder institutions including the private sector can be a promising tool to transform Assam rice farmers’ lives. “Such an approach has been successfully tested by IRRI in many countries of the world. Policy development support to governments is another area in which IRRI has successfully ventured in the recent past,” he said.
Morell further stressed on the role of IRRI to address the issue of malnutrition by developing the micronutrient (Zn, Fe) rich varieties, climate resilient stress tolerant varieties, challenges to produce more on less land, the importance of cropping systems approach rather than mono-cropping and suggested that the state should focus building upon its strengths. “The state has many products including varieties of rice which can be branded nationally and internationally like Assam tea,” said. For this, he harped upon the criticality of the concerted outreach efforts. He acknowledged the immense support which IRRI has received from the state in terms of supporting the APART.
Morell reached Guwahati, and attended an introductory meeting with the officials of World Bank financed Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) project.
The meeting was organised by Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services (ARIAS) Society with directorate of agriculture, Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and International Rice Research Institute.
The key officials of Assam government who were present in the meeting were MS Manivannan, director agriculture, Vinod Seshan, state Project director, ARIAS Society, Prabin Hazarika, director (horticulture and food processing) and director of research, Assam Agriculture University, Dr A. Bhattacharya.
From IRRI side, apart from Director General, key officials who remained present were Dr. US Singh, director, IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), Varanasi and Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, coordinator South Asia-and project leader APART project -IRRI.
In the meeting, agriculture director MS Manivannan mentioned that historically Assam has been a rice growing state but rice cultivation now suffers from a number of challenges including floods, draughts, pests and diseases attacks, moisture management and storage. He sought the support of IRRI in solving these challenges.
In his address, state project director ARIAS Society, focused on the issues of land conversion from agri to non—agri and the ways to combat this, traditional rice milling methods in Assam. He further went on to say that common service centres as aggregation and primary processing hubs by Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) are now emerging in the state. He further highlighted that agro entrepreneurship, particularly in rice value chain is another area which the state is focusing. He also stressed on the need of quality laboratory/testing facilities and sought IRRI’s support on the issues.
Morell would be in the state for next four days wherein he would meet the key officials of Assam government and also visit the Assam Agricultural University at Jorhat.