Posted by Jennifer on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 7:56am.
Importance of Rice and IRRI
The History of IRRI and IRRI’s Importance to the Rice Industry
IRRI, the International Rice Research Institute is the heart of Asia’s agricultural research. Established in 1960, IRRI headquarter is located in Los Banos, Philippines, and fourteen other offices are spread throughout different countries of Asia. IRRI carries a significant mission of helping to “feed almost half the world’s population” (“Welcome” IRRI). Because of this, they are also called the “home of the Green Revolution in Asia” (“Welcome” IRRI). To accomplish their mission, they dedicate their time to grow rice that does not need much water, create nutritious rice, and develop methods to produce more rice. It is their firm belief that this will thus decreases diseases, poverty, and starvation.
Rice – One of the World’s Most Important Crops Now and For the Future
The importance of rice is what makes IRRI’s mission meaningful all the more. Rice is life and the base of civilization to more than half the world. For most Asian countries, rice stands at the center of each of their culture. Especially in China, rice would get them occupied all year: “ploughing in spring, weeding in summer, harvesting in autumn and hoarding in winter” (“Rice Culture of China” China Through A Lens). Rice is not only the staple food for Asian countries, but the source for rice products such as rice wine, rice soap, rice cereal, and rice cake. As rice has accompanied people for more than 5000 years, it continues to walk with them to the future.
Rice – From the Field to the Table!
Each grain of rice in people’s bowls has come a long way. The fields have to be plowed, fertilized, smoothed and flooded before transplanting seedlings from the seedling beds to the fields by hand. After that, continuous care such as irrigation is needed during the growing season. Then the fields are drained and the plants are cut and tested. “Before marketing, the rice is threshed to loosen the hulls—mainly by flailing, treading, or working in a mortar—and winnowed free of chaff by tossing it in the air above a sheet or mat” (“Cultivation and Harvesting” Infoplease). Finally it is delivered to supermarkets before moms cook them and place it on the table.
Rice in the Philippines – Its Cultural and Economic Value
Rice, as is for other Asian countries, plays a major role in the Philippine’s culture and economy. Rice is one of the Philippine’s indigenous cuisines, and it is their “primary building block of nutritional health.” (“Cuisine and Fashion” Culture and Customs of the Philippines). They often prayed to their rice gods and gave rice festivals such as the Pahiyas festival. The Philippines was one of the top rice-exporting countries for a long time as it produced so much rice from the Banaue rice terraces. Even though they import rice now, lacking major rivers or deltas, many farmers still make living from rice cultivation.
Summary and Reflection on Our Research and Field Trip
To closely feel the importance of rice and IRRI, Brent students have visited the IRRI headquarter. It must have been a novel experience to most of them. After watching a short film that introduced IRRI and the importance of rice, they went out to the fields to plow the land with water buffalos and transplant seedlings. They had to step into a deep mud pool to do the job, but most students did not mind to ruin their clothes to help them. Then the students visited the IRRI museum that was divided into twelve sections each introducing rice artifacts, farming tools, farm machineries, rice products and by-products, illustrations of rice ecosystems, samples of rice seeds from different parts of the world, replicas of rice granaries, farmers’ clothing, insects that are friendly and harmful to rice, photographs of women rice farmers, and representations of rice biotechnology. As it has been for 50 years, IRRI will continue to contribute to fill the world’s need for rice and thus complete the cultures of half the world.
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