PhilRice joined the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in commemorating the 50th anniversary of IR8’s official release during the Partners’ and Farmers’ Day at IRRI’s headquarters, in Los Baños, Laguna, November 29.
The semi-dwarf and high-yielding IR8, IRRI’s first rice variety, was released in November 1966 and sparked the green revolution in the 1970s. According to IRRI, it is believed to have saved many regions of Asia from mass starvation.
Tracing the beginnings of PhilRice, IRRI’s Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships V. Bruce J. Tolentino shared how IR8 became instrumental in the establishment of the Institute in 1985.
“IR8 became the cornerstone of the package of technologies that was rolled out as part of the credit system called Masagana 99, a government program that started in 1973 until 1983,” Tolentino said during the 31st anniversary of PhilRice.
“The first act of Masagana 99 was the roll out of IR8. The last pact was the creation of PhilRice,” he added.
Following the success of Masagana 99, then UP System President Edgardo Angara led the group of experts who brainstormed on an idea to create a national rice research institute. In 1985, through an executive order issued by President Ferdinand Marcos, PhilRice was born.
PhilRice Executive Director Dr. Sailila Abdula hopes the Institute and IRRI will continue working together to ensure that science will reach the farmers’ hands.
“We need a strengthened collaboration with IRRI in carrying out this important task. We will build on our more than 3-decade partnership to better assist the Filipino farmers,” Abdula said.
During the celebration, Abdula joined DA Secretary Manny Piñol, IRRI Director General Mathew Morrell, and IRRI Deputy Director General for Research Jackie Hughes in the ceremonial planting of IR8 at the Zeigler Experiment Station.
“We recognize IR8’s contribution in our rice production and we hope that our long-established partnership with IRRI will continue to help our country become rice-secure,” Abdula concluded.