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IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI unite on rice-fish R&D project

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), WorldFish and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) have signed a five-year MoU agreement for joint R&D initiatives on sustainable rice-fish production systems in South and Southeast Asia

The agreement aligns with the CGIAR 2030 Plan which is set to tackle challenges related to sustainability, nutrition, genetics, socio-economics and information and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through greater cooperation between centres.

“This agreement exemplifies a food systems approach to transforming the global rice sector. The combined global research expertise and influence of IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI in the core elements of diets such as rice and fish, as well as land and water systems, make this strategic collaboration essential to a food systems revolution,” said Matthew Morell, director general at IRRI.

Previous individual and joint programme partnerships involving IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI have yielded positive results. Among them include the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food (2004), and an earlier project on fish-rice between IRRI and WorldFish with Bangladesh research and non-profit agencies.

More recently, WorldFish, IRRI and IWMI came together for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-funded Development of Rice Fish Systems (RFS) in the Ayeyarwady Delta project. The project aims to improve the productivity and profitability of rice-fish systems in Myanmar and seeks to benefit small-scale rice farming households, and fishers by diversifying production in rice-based farming systems and landscapes, enhancing the resilience of rice-based farming systems.

Gareth Johnstone, director general at WorldFish, commented, “This partnership helps create better synergies for leveraging our individual research expertise and network strengths to accelerate the sustainable supply of nutritious fish and rice into national, regional and global food systems.”

“We envision a sustainable food, nutrition, and water secure world and this strategic partnership get us closer to that goal,” according to Mark Smith, deputy director general for R&D at IWMI.

Under the MoU, IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI will co-develop and implement R&D activities to discover the impact of rice-fish production systems on environmental, socio-economic, and cultural values on land and waterways. The R&D projects will be developed based on themes which include constructed water bodies, rice-fish landscapes, climate resilience and water, trade-offs and foresight analysis and ICT and big data.