On April 2, the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Dr. Lourenco Borges Fontes, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at its headquarters in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.

The MOU was inspired by the common objectives to reinvigorate, promote and accelerate research and training on rice and rice-based farming systems and to strengthen natural resources management programs.

The collaboration will initially focus on:

  1. Varietal exchange and improvement for tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, including germplasm collection and conservation
  2. Human resource development for the next generation of rice scientists and extensionists
  3. Development of good agronomic practices for varieties developed for the local rice production systems
  4. Technology and information sharing and policy support

Ms. Achu Arboleda – IRRI Senior Training Specialist with trainees attending the Report Writing and Presentation Skills Training in Dili

Since the signing of the MOU, several joint activities have already been undertaken, including MAF-SoL researcher participation in short IRRI training courses. Two IRRI staff are also currently providing in-country training to MAF-SoL staff.  Other activities such as testing of new IRRI lines in Timor-Leste and technical visits by IRRI scientists are planned for later this year.

The collaboration is a continuation of the existing relationship between MAF and IRRI through the SoL program, now entering the second year of its third 5-year phase.