Speech by Ambassador Amanda Gorely
at the Inauguration of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) – Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility
21 January 2016
Thank you for inviting me along today.
As the new Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, I am honoured that one of my first engagements is to represent the Australian Government at the inauguration of the Lloyd Evans Plant Growth Facility at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). I did not have the pleasure of meeting Dr Evans, but am impressed by what I have learnt of him. Naming this building in his honour is a very fitting tribute.
The Australian Government, through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, or ACIAR, engages on a technical level, with Australian scientists active in many elements of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and IRRI’s work. I am pleased to be accompanied here today by Ms Mellissa Wood, General Manager – Global Programs at ACIAR in Canberra, and Ms Cecilia Honrado, ACIAR’s Country Manager in the Philippines.
Through ACIAR, the Australian Government has been actively supporting research in the Philippines since 1983, including support for the research undertaken by IRRI to contribute to a bountiful and secure global rice supply.
The Australian Government is acutely aware of the importance of rice for the world population, as rice is the staple food for more than 3.5 billion people worldwide.
It is a critical food source for poverty-stricken families, and it is imperative that developments in rice production are made to meet the global demands of increasing rice consumption.
ACIAR and IRRI have worked closely together on many projects over the years. Current projects include:
- Identification and validation of functional markers from diverse germplasm to reduce chalk in rice breeding materials;
- Diversification and intensification of rice-based systems in lower Burma;
- Improved rice germplasm for Cambodia and Australia
The Australian Government, through ACIAR, has provided various funding support to the International Rice Research Institute to assist with new and ongoing projects to reduce poverty and hunger through rice science. These include:
- annual core grants as part of our ongoing support to the CGIAR. In 2015-16, our support to the CGIAR system for research programs was A$23 million
- we provide significant project-specific funding, including A$20.88 million to support the Lloyd Evans facility and other infrastructure.
Naming this facility after Dr Lloyd Evans is fitting, given the fundamental research contributions he made to plant and crop science, especially with the establishment of the CERES phytotron, the artificially controlled environment research facility.
Dr Evans’ pioneering research challenged pervading views on the main factors that limit crop yield. He unravelled the influence of environment on crop growth.
His work was of quintessential importance to dryland farming systems worldwide.
These are the conditions that prevail in much of Australia’s wheatbelt. Advances made in Australia are today used to alleviate poverty and hunger in the semi-arid growing regions of the world.
Dr Evans’ work at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for nearly 50 years, his Presidency of the Australian Academy of Science and his contributions at IRRI all highlight his dedication to the plant industry and the scientific community more broadly.
His research publications and book on crop science reflect the breadth and depth of his interest in and understanding of the subject.
The Lloyd Evans Growth Facility will exemplify Dr Evans’ life work.
I am pleased to learn that the facility’s innovative research will contribute significantly to the advancement of humankind’s knowledge and understanding of the impact, and interactions of climate change on rice plant growth.
I would like to wish you well as you continue your work to reduce poverty and hunger, to improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and to maintain the environmental sustainability of rice farming.
Links from IRRI: