On 9 March, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Bayer agreed to support and co-invest in a four-year project 'Scale Direct' that aims to accelerate the global efforts of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on direct seeded rice (DSR) research and development for smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa
The project, titled, 'Improving the quality of life of smallholder rice farmers in Asia and Africa through introduction, on-farm testing and scaling of improved germplasm and climate smart agronomy' was launched through a ceremonial event hosted at IRRI South Asia Regional Centre in Varanasi on 9 March 2023.
It is a comprehensive integration of breeding specific varieties for DSR establishment methods, on-farm validations, DSR specific agronomic practices, and seed systems and enterprise development activities.
The global initiative’s core objectives include:
1. Establishment of a network of institutions and actors to advance seed and varietal development, adaptation, and accelerate the deployment of product concepts, product varieties or hybrids, and required DSR market-suited traits
2. Introduction, validation, and scaling of climate-smart agronomic practices and technologies
3. Strengthening formal and informal seed production, delivery, and entrepreneurship for equitable, gender-inclusive access to climate-resilient products
4. An evidenced-based learning, feedback, and recommendation mechanism for experts and policymakers
Resulting from co-conceptualisation meetings between IRRI, Bayer, and USAID that began in 2022, the project aims to help improve the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of rice production and lead to widespread adoption of DSR practices among smallholder farmers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique.