2022 was marked by a fresh beginning and new accomplishments as IRRI delivered on game changing innovations in rice-based systems, actively participate in the One CGIAR transition, and reopen our headquarters and country offices after 2 years of COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout the year, our scientists and staff remained focused on the core business of research-for-impact and through extraordinary teamwork delivered exemplary scientific and on-the-ground achievement.
As the world wrestles with the climate crisis, IRRI acted on its responsibility to provide solutions
in climate-change mitigation and adaptation. In 2022, we formulated a comprehensive institutional strategy for climate change that spans upstream and downstream activities, which we will implement through a portfolio of bilateral projects and CGIAR Initiatives. By leveraging our strengths in varietal development, crop cultivation, agronomy, spatial analyses, and policy guidance, we are investing in innovative research domains to spearhead the development of next-generation solutions such as methanogenesis (production of methane by bacteria or other living organisms), remote sensing of greenhouse gas emissions, low-carbon farming, rice-carbon credit markets, and policy support for rice-based systems transformation.
With a renewed focus on our four flagship programs and a clear strategy to strengthen our regional work in Asia and Africa, IRRI has been engaging with key stakeholders to understand and align with their priorities to cocreate solutions. The outcomes of projects such as the Regional Great Lakes Integrated Agricultural Development Project for Africa (PRAIDGL), the Support Project for the Transformation of Agriculture in the Natural Region of Bugasera (PATAREB), the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART), the Climate-Smart Mapping and Adaptation Planning (CS-MAP), and others, played a significant role in strengthening the trust among IRRI and its national partners, resulting in additional support and funding.
IRRI achieved remarkable progress with its proposals in 2022, with an 85% success rate
in terms of USD value and a 72% success rate based on scientific submissions to all concerned institutions. It was a significant improvement compared to 2021, which already stood at a high level of 59% and 69%, respectively.
IRRI strengthened its engagement work in 2022 to foster opportunities for collaboration
and funding. Our focus has been on shaping the CGIAR Southeast Asia & the Pacific (SEAP) Regional Hub, specifically through the design and approval of the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food Program. This program has eight innovation packages, designed through a collaborative approach with all 10 ASEAN member states as well as the eight CGIAR Centers active in the region. Two funding organizations—the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)—have already come on board to support the first pilot year.
In November 2022, IRRI demonstrated the value of science diplomacy for action by brokering the new iteration of the “Seed without Borders” agreement that was signed in Thimphu, Bhutan, by 10 countries from Asia and the Pacific. New signatories include the Philippines, Vietnam, and Fiji.
Throughout 2022, we also engaged to consolidate and give a new impetus to our long-standing collaborations with strategic partners including the governments of Bangladesh, Burundi, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines (our host country via its Department of Agriculture) as well as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Council of Partnership on Rice Research in Asia. These efforts reflect our dedication to fostering strong partnerships, securing funding, improving the legitimacy of our science, and maximizing our impact.
While we have had remarkable successes in scientific advancements, we also need to strengthen IRRI’s credibility and visibility in downstream activities, particularly in impact evaluation. IRRI is developing a methodology that assesses the impact of technologies or bundles
of technologies and evaluates the impact of its institutional presence in a particular country or region.
To align our corporate strategy with our mission of improving sustainability, IRRI also signed
on to become a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). To further cement our commitment, a Green Team was assumed, which will serve as an advisory body to the Executive Team. The Green Team will coordinate IRRI’s sustainability efforts and ensure compliance with the UNGC.
The Institute is also working on setting up Greenhouse Gas Accounting to show its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint to mitigate the impact of its operations on climate change. With the recent rise in global interest in sustainability accounting, this initial step will also prepare the Institute for the eventual implementation of disclosures for social, environmental, and governance impact as an integral part of our financial reporting in the future.
In 2022, IRRI announced that its milestone sixth edition of the International Rice Congress will be held on 16–19 October 2023 in Manila, Philippines. Co-organized with the Philippine Department of Agriculture, the Congress is expected to continue to be the largest gathering in the rice world of scientists, government leaders, NGOs, and business innovators, which demonstrates IRRI’s unmatched ability and reputation to convene stakeholders from across the sector. To learn more about the Congress, go to irc2023.irri.org.
As the host country of IRRI’s headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines has been a long-standing partner for over six decades. In close collaboration with the country’s Department of Agriculture and organizations such as the Philippine Rice Research Institute, IRRI has developed an impressive range of technological and institutional innovations specifically tailored to Philippine conditions. In 2022, many of these initiatives are now primed for scaling. The strong relationship between IRRI and the Philippines was underscored in November 2022 when the Institute was honored with and deeply appreciative of the high-level visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who toured the headquarters and met with leadership and scientists to discuss enhancing the country’s rice sector with innovative tools and technologies.
As I look ahead to 2023, I sincerely believe that IRRI is well positioned to take significant steps forward to make transformative change. By ceaselessly striving for excellence in research, collaboration, and impact, we will continue to expand our position as a trusted collaborator, convener, and innovator to address the pressing issues of improving farmer livelihoods, climate change, sustainability, and regeneration of natural resources, food and nutrition security, and social equity. As we move forward, IRRI is poised to continue driving game changing reform in rice- based systems , advancing the frontiers of rice research, and shaping the future of agriculture for a more sustainable and food- and nutrition-secure world.