Monday, August 9, 2010

World Food Prize intern joined and observed Learning Alliance activities in the Philippines

by Rica Joy Flor and Reianne Quilloy

A World Food Prize intern gave a seminar last August 6, 2010, highlighting a key learning alliance (LA) insight she learned while at IRRI. Callie Schultes, 19, from the USA, described her eight-week stint with the institute as hands-on learning activities from laboratory techniques to documenting the impact side of IRRI’s research. One thing she learned was the importance of exchanging and sharing information between partners (such as farmers, researchers and other stakeholders) to succeed in agricultural research and innovation.

Ms. Schultes is one of the 16 high school graduates who are part of the Borlaug-Ruan Summer Internship Program which aims to give students hands-on experience in well-renowned research centers.  To learn more about the Norman-Borlaug Summer Internship Program and the World Food Prize, you may visit it here (insert link.) She had a joint-program at IRRI where she explored two areas of interest to her, genetics and women.

Her project in the genetics area was in the GAMMA laboratory, to genotype rice varieties from the farmers and experience hands-on exercises on some molecular techniques.  After her laboratory work, she was assigned under the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium for her to observe and document in a small project how research translates to impact.

She was involved in the Message design workshop on hermetic storage, an activity of the learning alliance, linked with the Philippines Rice Self Sufficiency Program. She gave valuable insights that helped make the messages clear for non-technical audiences. She also observed social science activities implemented for documenting impact such as the survey implemented in Camarines Sur. With the help of LA partner, Caritas Diocese of Libmanan through Wilson OriƱo, she visited partners in Libmanan, and had discussions with women farmers on how postharvest technologies might have impact on them. Her involvement in these activities helped her appreciate how important it is to extend research to the end-users.

Set to return to her home base, the incoming Biology student at the Iowa State Univeristy said she will bring with her valuable things she learned from this internship, that while she observed different people doing different things and embarking on different paths—basic and applied research, they all contribute towards the same goals, reducing poverty and helping rice farmers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Enhancing learning alliances through participatory message design and materials development

Another learning alliance activity held on 13-14 July brought partners together to brainstorm about effective ways to communicate hermetic storage in a Message Design and Materials Development Workshop. About 20 participants from NGOs, local government, International Rice Research Institute, and the Philippine Rice Research Institute were present for this activity.
 The workshop aimed to develop unified key messages on hermetic storage, one of the main postharvest technologies of the learning alliance. More importantly, from feedback during the 3rd learning alliance meeting, the need to unify postharvest messages amidst the emerging rice-based projects like the Philippine Rice Self-sufficiency Plan (PRSSP) was highly recognized; hence, the workshop was conceptualized.
 Trina Mendoza, a senior communication specialist, facilitated the activity. Participatory approaches were used in consultation with anthropologist Rica Flor to elicit the crucial elements in materials designing—communication objectives, key messages, and target audiences. In order to do that, information leveling was done by briefing the participants on the key hermetic storage principles and the importance of linking the workshop output to the PRSSP.
A flyer enumerating the benefits of a Superbag was one of the outputs of the activity. This material was translated to Bisaya 
 Outputs of the event were two draft flyers (in English and Visayan language) and a flipchart. Everyone had an opportunity to critique and revise the materials according to the gathered comments.  A week after, a pretesting activity with farmers in Calauan, Laguna, was done to fine-tune the materials.
 This workshop shows how partners in a learning alliance can do more through synergy and learning from feedback. Now that partners have addressed this need for a template, many of them plan to echo what happened to others in the alliance. The materials produced would be a template which partners with the mandate for extension can surely use. In addition to the series of hermetic storage training done this year, here is another activity wherein the project partners can take as a jump-off point for another learning cycle in the process of effectively bringing out hermetic storage technologies.
View the workshop report here 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ADB-IRRI Postharvest Project Planning Meeting conducted

by Trina Leah Mendoza

Partners of the IRRI-ADB Philippine Postharvest Project from different provinces in the Philippines and the Philippine Rice Research Institute, as a key project partner, recently conducted the ADB-IRRI Postharvest Project Planning Meeting last June 1 and 2, 2010 at the Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte.
The 2-day meeting aimed to update partners on the project’s current activities at IRRI and in pilot provinces, plan and agree on activities targeted for the next 18 months, brief partners on steps to creating a business model, and introduce adaptive research and pilot study protocols to partners.

Fifteen partners from key institutions in the three pilot sites of Camarines Sur, Bohol, and Agusan del Norte attended and reported on their progress on participatory hermetic storage verification.

Updates on the activities on hermetic storage were presented. Wilson Orino, program officer of Caritas Diocese of Libmanan, Camarines Sur also provided the results of their adaptive trials. Dr. Caesar Tado, co-project leader from PhilRice, reported on the adaption of mechanical dryers, particularly the new reversible dryers. IRRI anthropologist Rica Flor discussed updates on what the postharvest learning alliance in the Philippines has done. 

A lecture on Business models development was also done with group exercises facilitated by Alfred Schmidley and Rica Flor. The meeting concluded with each pilot site having their set of work plans which will be a jump off point for the 2011 project implementation strategies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hermetic Storage and Flatbed Dryers Training series pilots in three PH provinces

Hermetic storage and flatbed dryers training were conducted at the Bohol, Agusan, and Camarines Sur for the month of April. Participants from the local government, seeds growers, producers and NGOs graced the events.

Lively discussions through open forum and hands-on exercises were conducted to be able to identify actual field problems and concerns were discussed with the help of Dr. Caesar Tado and Engr. John Eric Abon of PhilRice.

Basic principles on hermetic storage were also discussed by Engr. Carlito Balingbing of IRRI. Further, Alfred Schmidley facilitated a discussion on developing business models for hermetic storage which perked the interests of some participants and expressed their interest into piloting their respective business models for hermetic storage system.  In terms of facilitating adaptive research in the same area, the protocol was discussed together with the efficient monitoring and sharing of information that will be generated from the research results. At the end of the training, key farmers and seed growers gave their commitment to facilitate and coordinate with their group members in gathering relevant information and data that will be shared with the postharvest Learning Alliance.
(Edit post)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning Alliance activities for 2010

Forging of partnerships and collaborative efforts have been the forefront of Learning Alliance teams in Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. The IRRI-based team started with plans of activities for each target countries.

For Vietnam, implementation of Posthavest research and extension in coordination with various universities (Nong Lam, Can Tho, SIAEP, VIAEP, and HUAF) are in the pipleline and will start anytime soon.

In Cambodia, collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture through Dr. Pyseth Meas was renewed to be able to continue the Postharvest outscaling efforts.

In the Philippines, Flat bed dryers and hermetic storage training and needs assessment will be conducted in the target areas of Bohol, Camarines Sur, and Agusan del Norte. Partnerships between NGOs, private individuals and farmers' groups were tapped through these activities. Partnership with the Philippine Rice Postproduction Consortium has also been explored.

Exploring different platforms were also prioritized to widen the access to the latest technologies and studies in Postharvest. The team is strengthening its partnership with the IRRI Rice Knowledge Bank and other IRRI-based consortia to facilitate and encourage sharing of good practices and lived experiences.

For the next couple of months, rest assured that the team and their partners will be bent on deliveringPH technologies through efficient outscaling of scientifically-proved technologies, conducting of adaptive research, and quality extension delivery service in the most accessible platform.