Our Work

Formal collaboration ICAR with IRRI dates back to 1974 when ICAR and IRRI agreed on research cooperation. On 15 March 1974, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and N.C. Brady, the then directors general of ICAR and IRRI, respectively, signed the ICAR-IRRI Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for cooperation in research and training. Under this umbrella and in accordance with Article VII of the MOA, the two institutions sign new work plans every 4 years after reviewing the MOA’s research progress and identifying new and future opportunities and areas of research collaboration. 

Consistent with the priorities of the Indian Rice Program and those of GRiSP, IRRI, and ICAR, on behalf of and in consultation with various institutions in India, an exciting and forward-looking research and development agenda for the next 4 years (2013-16) has been developed and approved. 

Signed by the directors general of both ICAR (S. Ayyappan) and IRRI (Robert S. Zeigler) on 29 November 2012, the MOA involves 24 projects (16 ongoing and 8 new) with major efforts in upstream research in areas such as crop genetic improvement and future intensive rice systems. The eight new strategic projects are tied directly to GRiSP, to be led by various Indian research institutions, with additional funding being sought from the Government of India. Following is the list of 24 projects with brief scope of activities mentioned against each:

Programs Title


Germplasm Exchange, Conservation  and Conservation Research

The scope is the conservation and exchange of rice germplasm between IRRI and India.

Genotyping and Phenotyping for gene discovery

Through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), systematically define functions of genomic regions with emphasis on traits for biotic and abiotic stress tolerance.

Epigenetics: Potential roles in controlling agronomically important traits

Use of epigenetics as an approach for gene discovery and genome plasticity towards abiotic stress tolerance and higher yield

Novel Genetics Stocks: Multi-parent advanced generation inter-crosses (MAGIC) among diverse genotypes to facilitate gene discovery for various traits in rice

To disseminate, genetically characterize, and field evaluate prebreeding lines through a selected drought, salinity and submergence network in India. We will examine the transmission pattern of tolerance of abiotic stresses (drought, submergence, and salinity), resistance to biotic stresses (blast and bacterial blight), wide adaptation to different environments, high yield potential, and good grain quality.

Genes and allelies for abiotic stress tolerance

Improving rice yield under abiotic stress challenges and improving the grain macro- and micro nutrients complement by discovering and/or validating novel genes for generating gene based markers

C4 rice

The aim of this project is to produce a large (approx. 5 t ha–1) and sustainable increase in the productivity of rice in all ecosystems by increasing the efficiency of solar energy capture by photosynthesis. To achieve this, the C4 photosynthetic pathway will be introduced into rice (a C3 crop). C4 cereals, like maize and sorghum, typically have grain yields 50% greater than those of C3 crops like rice and wheat. This is because C4 plants have a more efficient photosynthetic pathway that leads to photosynthetic rates that are much higher (>50%) than C3 plants. Further, the improved efficiency of photosynthesis allows reduced nitrogen allocation to photosynthetic components resulting in a 40% increase in nitrogen use efficiency. The carbon concentrating mechanism of C4 allows CO2 to be fixed at much lower internal CO2 concentrations. This allows stomatal conductance to be reduced and this lowers the rate of transpiration and doubles water use efficiency. The project is a large collaborative program involving sixteen separate organizations world-wide (The C4 Consortium). The members of the C4 consortium were confident that we had the scientific ability to deliver our objectives. It will take about 15-20 years of coordinated research carried out at IRRI and in the laboratories of the C4 Consortium to deliver C4 rice to plant breeders in the developing world. Our proposal builds on our current successes; develops ongoing work and incorporates several new research avenues brought on by scientific developments.

INGER & Multi-Environment Testing (MET) of new germplasm

Scientists from all the research institutions and state universities and agricultural research stations in India participate in the germplasm exchange and evaluation activities of INGER. A MET based in the IRRI hub in Hyderabad will be set up in India during the period.

New sources of resistance to biotic tresses/wild rices introgression

Development of cultivars with broad-spectrum durable resistance to major diseases and insects

Marker assisted breeding for multi-stress-tolerant rice varieties

Improving    yield    in    unfavorable    environments    by developing climate adapted multi-stress-tolerant rice varieties that provides an insured yield to farmers

New Rice Varieties for Irrigated and Mechanized Direct Seeding Systems

The project will develop for the target regions of South Asia a new generation of rice varieties and hybrid parental lines which have the following target trait specifications: higher yield potential, adaptation to dry direct seeding and water stresses (partial/non-flooded  irrigation),  heat  tolerance,  grain  quality and straw fodder value.

Increasing the yield potential in rice

  • Pyramid yield related cloned genes/QTLs into elite rice cultivars of India using genomic strategy
  • Develop an array of breeding lines with high yield potential and better adoptability to  transplanted and/or direct seeded conditions

Hybrid rice

Develop hybrid rice parents and hybrids

Mobile phone applications for crop and nutrient management

Available blanket fertilizer recommendations for major rice growing domains across Asia do not take into account the wide range of crop management practices, soil heterogeneity, and varying access to and the different available fertilizer sources. Based on the scientific principles of 15 years of SSNM research across Asia, the objective is the development of a decision support tool for mobile devices that allows the precision management of their fields with the aim to increase farmers’ profits by 100 US$ per hectare and season. Acknowledging the need of rice growers for field-specific crop management guidelines in addition to fertilizer recommendations, the aim is to provide a crop management tool that promotes and integrates decision support for good agricultural practices.

Crop and resource management practices for irrigated cereal systems

Future conservation agriculture (CA) based farming systems must be designed to enhance the productivity, profitability, and resource-use efficiency of the system on a sustainable basis. Hence, the need to understand the short-term performance and long-term consequences of the complex system changes induced by adopting CA in order to design new cereal-based cropping systems that will allow farmers to adapt to the emerging challenges of water and labor scarcity, as well as a degradation of the soil resource base. Research work will continue at the four sites across India in order to (i) assess medium term performance and sustainability of current and proposed new systems and (ii) continue with dynamic optimization of the proposed new management systems. The detailed experimental data collected in the on-going trials will be used for parameterization and evaluation of crop and cropping systems simulation models. Simulation outcomes will be utilized to test new cropping systems options and/or technologies through participatory adaptive research with partners. In addition to the on-station research, strategic research on key emerging issues will be carried out with farmers in strategic research modules under representative conditions in farmers’ fields.

Crop and resource management practices for rainfed lowland systems in  eastern India

Improving & stabilizing yield in unfavorable environments by developing appropriate crop and nutrient management practices particularly for stress tolerant rice varieties

Free Air CO2 enrichment (FACE) and temperature interaction in a rice-rice cropping system

A pressing need for active selection to exploit an opportunity provided through increasing CO2 levels has been advocated to increase rice yield potential. This opportunity however has not been exploited till date due to lack of appropriate phenotyping facilities under field conditions, knowledge on key traits and genes that can facilitate implementing an effective CO2 breeding program and developing lines with enhanced CO2 utilization efficiency, respectively.

Mechanization and postharvest business models for eastern India

Reducing losses in harvesting and postharvest processing and improving quality of paddy, milled rice, and seed to increase incomes of farmers (incl women) and other chain actors

Slower digesting rice varieties

To assess the advantage of using identified rice varieties with a low glycemic index and a high resistant starch content for the management of diabetes

Rural household dynamics in eastern and southern India

The objectives of the project include (a) assessing impacts of new rice technologies and farming practices across gender and social groups, (b) identifying adoption constraints across gender and social groups, (c) estimating the impacts of the new rice technologies and farming practices on poverty dynamics across gender and social groups, (d) and disseminating policy implications to counterparts and policy makers. The main target area of the project is Eastern India, where gender and social inequality remain major concerns.

Real-time rice crop monitoring and forecasting

To develop capacity for crop monitoring in TNAU using a combination of remote sensing, crop modelling and traditional sources of climate and agronomic information for decision support in areas of food security and as an input to potential crop insurance business models.

Impact assessment studies for selected new technologies

The objectives of the project include (a) evaluations of new rice technologies and farming practices, (b) identifying adoption constraints, (c) examining input and technology service provider markets, (d) and disseminating new technologies and farming practices to project counterparts and policy makers. The main target area of the project is Eastern India, where rice production is mainly based on rain-fed agriculture and the majority of the rice farmers are small-scale farmers who live in poverty.

CKB and extension capacity development and delivery  ICTs, Knowledge Management, Capacity development and Delivery in Rice sector

  • ICT effectively used and adapted for extension capacity development and delivery for farmers Development of coherent platform for extension and farmer communication for multiple delivery agents established in at least one state;
  • Up to date extension training materials packaged for Odisha (The repackaging of the Rice Knowledge Management Portal, Odisha State extension and farmer materials updated and the CSISA CKB and IRRI RKB at the State level (piloting in Odisha/ Tamil Nadu);
  • An ICT based innovative field based extension training program piloted for young extension professionals (inclusive of mobile applications) Possible integration of ICT and KM activities with the ongoing extension activities of development departments.
  • Institutionalising these activities with ongoing AICRIP activities of DRR, so that real time knowledge updation is realised

Catalyzing new delivery approaches for agricultural innovations

  • Understand the role of informal seed sector in India and effectiveness of different seed dissemination strategies. Development of innovative strategies for the faster outreach to the target areas for maximum impacts
  • Ensuring seed quality
  • Varietal tracking and impact assessment
  • Catalyze processes that ensure effective seed production and delivery systems for stress tolerant rice varieties Development of decision tools that facilitate accelerated out- scaling   efficiently   deliver   localized   messages   to   large numbers of extension agents and farmers.
  • Work  with  national  system  to  promote  the  appropriate policies for faster release and dissemination of rice varieties Capacity  building  of   agricultural   experts   and   officials involved in developmental activities and those dealing with policy issues

Science Capacity Building

India is a strategic partner in GRISP in contributing science to the new breakthroughs necessary for global food security