IRRI puts up learning center on rice

The IRRI Riceworld, a learning center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, Laguna, is visited each year by more than 30,000 students, teachers, farmers, researchers and policy makers from all over the world.

Dedicated to rice farmers all over the world, the IRRI Riceworld is a permanent exhibit of artifacts and implements from rice-growing countries. It serves as a learning center about rice production and research and the importance of rice in global food production.

Inaugurated in 1994, the center, according to Johnny Goloyugo, IRRI information specialist, shows the different ways rice is grown, the geographical zones where rice is planted, the challenges involved in improving productivity and the problems associated with sustainable rice production in various eco-systems.

Exhibits at the IRRI Riceworld start with the history and origins of rice. Its centerpiece shows carbonized rice grains and hulls dating back to 2,500 BC.

The carbonized rice grains were found in archaelogical excavations in Ban Na Di and Non Nok Tha in northeast of Thailand.

The next section is a photo exhibit about rice cultivation and the different ecosytems where rice is grown, from irrigated and deepwater to upland areas. It is followed by a display of different clothes worn by the farmers.

Other exhibits explain the importance of friendly insects in controlling rice pests, the value of conserving rice seeds to maintain genetic diversity, and why scientists are looking at the role of methane emissions from ricefields in global warming.

A major part of the IRRI Riceworld is devoted to more than 200 rice farming tools for different stages of cultivation: plows, carts, scythes, knives, a mud-carrying drag sledge, rice bundles, and others.

Rice machineries developed at IRRI, including a stove fueled by rice husk, are also on display at the center.

Admission to the IRRI Riceworld is free.