Introductory Remarks on "Integrated Crop and Research Management in the Rice-Wheat System of South Asia"

Welcome and introductory remarks by Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB Vice President, at the book launch of "Integrated Crop and Research Management in the Rice-Wheat System of South Asia", Manila, Philippines

Dr. Ren Wang of CGIAR, Dr. Zeigler of IRRI, and Dr. Ladha, lead editor of the book, representatives from donor partners, nongovernmental organizations and academe, media representatives, and colleagues from CGIAR, IRRI, and ADB, a very good afternoon.

The Book - The Story about a Successful Agriculture Innovation

On behalf of ADB, I would like to welcome you to our headquarters and to the launching of the book entitled, Integrated Crop and Resource Management in the Rice-Wheat System of South Asia. This study is a joint publication of three organizations: IRRI, the Rice-Wheat Consortium, and the ADB.

We are pleased to serve as the host for the launching of this knowledge product. At first glance, the book may appear to focus simply on the development and impact of zero-till cultivation, the resource conservation technologies and the integrated crop resource management in the rice-wheat system of the Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia. However, as one reads further, the book offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the evolutionary process of technological and institutional innovations. More importantly, the book provides us an important insight about the roles that key stakeholders played in the evolution and development of the integrated crop and resource management of the rice-wheat system.

Elements for Successful Developmental Agriculture Research:

Specifically, this book lays out the critical elements necessary for an agriculture research concept to become a developmental revolution: The first is that agricultural research has to be farmer-driven. The technological innovations that developed were the result of listening to, and working with farmers, responding to their particular socio-economic environment.

The second element is that innovations need national leaders, or champions for change. In this case, the champions were the researchers, scientists, and extension staff of the National Agriculture Research and Extension Services, or the NARES. Together, they initiated the Rice-Wheat Consortium. This network became an innovator and supplier of new knowledge, a clearing house for new approaches and methods, and a facilitator and catalyst of research.

The third element is private sector participation in developing the technologies. A unique informal partnership emerged where the NARES and their scientists on one hand worked with the local manufacturers of farm implements and with agribusiness enterprises, on the other, in developing appropriate resource conservation technologies. The book showcased other different forms of interesting public-private partnership schemes that work in agriculture settings.

The fourth element is external support. The resources provided by such support enabled rigorous and multi-disciplinary experimentation. A key message that resonates is that agriculture research for development is indeed worth investing in, and is in particular important to support in the future since it holds the key to solutions for sustainable food security, feeding the world population, resolving hunger and poverty, and conserving our limited natural resources.

ADB's Contribution

ADB has been fortunate to be part of the evolutionary process for the establishment and development of these agricultural technological and institutional innovations. We provided grant funds between 1990 and 2007 totaling to more than $3 million. We are happy to note that ADB, together with the NARES, the international agriculture research centers (notably IRRI and CGIAR), and other donor partners were able to contribute in increasing the farmers' crop yields and incomes, and enabled the development of local manufacturers and providers of resource-conserving farm implements. Altogether, these enabled a more stable rice-wheat system that hopefully will pave the way for a more secure access to food for the present and future generations.

Congratulations to the editors led by Dr. Ladha, and thank you for the important support of IRRI, the CGIAR, and international donors.