BOGOR, INDONESIA — The International Rice Research Institute on April 1 opened an office in Indonesia that will help accelerate rice initiatives under way in the country.

The office opening comes on the heels of a host country agreement between the IRRI and the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD).

The agreement called for the accelerated sharing of research innovations, expertise, and policy support to help Indonesia attain its rice self-sufficiency goals and boost its rice research, training capacity, rice production, and rice-based livelihoods, in the face of climate change and undernutrition in Indonesia.

“We are grateful for the trust the Indonesian government has shown in IRRI’s technologies and expertise,” said Matthew Morell, director general of the IRRI. “We are committed to working with IAARD and national partners to foster future-ready research and policy collaborations and help them deliver their vision of a lasting positive impact in the lives of the farmers and the country’s economy.”

Indonesia has faced declining water resources, labor shortages, changes in land use patterns, and a growing population.

The IRRI estimated that Indonesia will need 38% more rice in the next 25 years, which means that either the average yield of 4.6 tons per hectare must rise to more than 6 tons per hectare to fill the gap or alternate solutions need to be developed.

In his new role leading IAARD as director general, Fadjry Djufry plans to address this gap through the use of precision farming technologies and program collaborations.

“These challenges have been affecting Indonesia’s farmers and consumers for years and have been keeping us from fully attaining our goals for the rice sector,” he said. “For the past 50 years, IRRI’s interventions have helped us overcome these to a significant extent. We want to continue exploring other potential benefits from this partnership and I hope this office can further accelerate our joint efforts to achieve our set targets.”

While in Indonesia, Morell also will participate in the national consultation at IAARD for the ASEAN+3 - IRRI initiative in Indonesia on “Rice Genetic Solutions for Climate Resilience and Value Addition in ASEAN.” This rice germplasm evaluation and testing initiative is expected to generate $0.5 billion a year for ASEAN countries.

“A fresh approach and a recalibration of research and development programs will require the sustained inputs and backing of IRRI’s Indonesia counterparts,” Morell said. “We’re very committed to bringing this to fruition with our partners in Indonesia.”

IRRI’s rice varieties have significantly improved Indonesia’s rice production. The most recently released rice varieties include the Inpari 30 Ciherang Sub1, Inpari 34, 35, 42-43 GSR and INPARI IR NutriZinc. Released in 2018, the INPARI IR NutriZinc, is considered Indonesia’s first variety of zinc rice to address the country’s stunting problem.

It is a high yielding, brown planthopper-resistant variety that provides up to 50% of daily zinc needs and can potentially help reduce the effects of the $2.6 billion annual gross domestic product losses of Indonesia due to micronutrient deficiencies.