IRRI, Corteva ink agreement on rice research as firm launches in Asia Pacific

Tarra Quismundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2018 08:32 PM

Officials of IRRI and Corteva sign an agreement for a 4-year collaboration on rice breeding research on the sidelines of the 5th International Rice Congress in Singapore, October 15, 2018. Handout

SINGAPORE - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and agricultural firm Corteva Agriscience on Monday signed an agreement that would support rice breeding research to bring innovation from laboratory to farm faster as part of efforts to ensure food security amid population growth and climate change. 

This as Corteva, the agriculture division of US firm DowDuPont, launched its Asia-Pacific operations at the 5th International Rice Congress here, touching base with agriculture experts, officials from government and international non-profit organizations, and representatives from the academe, among others. 

Under a four-year agreement with an undisclosed price tag, IRRI, based in Los Baños, Laguna, and Corteva will exchange technologies on rice breeding, including the development of resilient rice varieties. 

“We would like to get what we call impact acceleration, meaning the capacity to translate innovations developed by IRRI into products that are useful to rice farmers,” said IRRI Tech Transfer head Remy Bitoun in a press conference Monday afternoon.

Peter Ford, Corteva’s Asia Pacific head, said the partnership aims to “develop new and better solutions for farmers,” including technology geared towards improving farming productivity and profitability. 

The pact leverages Corteva’s core business- a line of recognized seed brands and crop protection products- with IRRI’s rice development research for the benefit of farmers. 

“Rice is a natural priority crop for us. We’re absolutely committed to the Asia-Pacific region and to continuing our innovation and our leadership in rice,” said Ford. 

The pact will also give Corteva a “non-exclusive research license” to elite genetic material being developed by IRRI, said Bitoun. 

In introducing Corteva at the conference, its Vice President for External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer Krysta Harden explained how the origin of the company’s name- 'cor’ for ‘heart’ and ‘teva’ for 'nature'- captures what the company is. 

“The heart of nature. Some say earth- that is the meaning, the oomph of who we are as a company,” said Harden. 

Corteva Agriscience’s for External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer Krysta Harden delivers a keynote address at the 5th International Rice Congress in Singapore, October 15, 2018. Handout

She said the firm aims to educate farmers “so they can be more profitable, so they can produce the food we need.” She noted how, by estimates, food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050, when global population is expected to hit 10 billion. 

Harden, who comes from a family of peanut growers in the US, cited the impact of climate change on farming: “It’s hard to know what kind of impact you have when your business partner is mother nature.” 

Given this, the company makes sure to be grounded on land- that is, business strategies are based on inputs from farmers themselves. 

“It’s making sure we’re working with farmers, we’re listening to farmers. We don’t just make decisions in boardrooms around the world, we do it in the farm… We go out, we listen, we talk to them, we understand the partnerships we need, we make sure we do this right,” she said.