Product line 6.3. Effective systems for large-scale adoption of rice technologies in Southeast and East Asia


Demand is strong for new rice technologies from large numbers of farmers in Southeast and East Asia. This is reflected nationally, for example, in the Philippines with the government’s Rice Self-Sufficiency Program and provincially with the local government and IRRC investment in An Giang Province, Vietnam, which promotes good agricultural practices (GAP) for rice. Indonesia has a concerted government effort to achieve national self-sufficiency in rice. In Laos, IRRI provides support for NAFRI and is actively involved in technology development through support for delivery in the irrigated and rainfed rice ecosystems. Considerable unsatisfied demand remains, however, in Southeast and East Asia for support in the delivery of agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations. Further, the resources, skills, and approaches required to provide such support are lacking. The development of the rice knowledge banks as a resource for extension and farmers is in its early stages, with a lack of strong links between the research scientists and communications or training personnel. The development of information resources, training materials, communication methods, and capacity development is required to facilitate the large-scale delivery of resources. To support the delivery of innovations, this product line will aim to develop the means to underpin and facilitate the large-scale dissemination of rice technologies in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in accordance with national priorities. 


A new team of extension agronomists and business development specialists will be formed to support the design and development of improved business models for large-scale roll-out of technologies, to build awareness, and to develop links to national and regional investments.  This team will support the large-scale diffusion of new technologies and provide links for investments to enhance the dissemination of improved rice systems technologies. To develop awareness of current practices and innovations, an NGO summit will be held to strengthen NGO-IRRI partnerships. Linkages will be strengthened between RKBs and consensus developed among various scientists in the respective institutions. Country RKBs will be linked to a regional network that is, in turn, supported by the IRRC and CURE consortia. Innovative communication media (e.g., mobile technology for SSNM recommendations) will be developed to incorporate emerging technologies.  
        Activities to support delivery of technologies will include (1) the development of innovative diffusion pathways for AWD and SSNM in the Philippines; (2) development of training and extension materials, and technical backstopping for IRRC technologies in the curriculum for 70,000 farmer field schools on integrated crop management in Indonesia; (3) an IRRC Country Outreach Program (ICOP) on NRM of rice in Myanmar in three divisions; (4) delivery of “good agricultural practices” for rice (rice GAP) through ICOP in five provinces in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam; (5) linkages established with IFAD investment programs for out-scaling of CURE technologies for upland and drought-prone areas; (6) delivery of GAP for unfavorable areas; and (7) delivery of technologies for salinity and submergence-prone conditions in the Mekong Delta along with support for capacity in seed processing.


    6.3.1 New models for seed multiplication and targeted delivery systems
    6.3.2 New platforms for delivering agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations
    6.3.3 New models for jointly building extension capacity 


        Partnerships in Southeast Asia in research-extension are diverse. Consortia such as CURE and the IRRC have developed strong partnerships with more than 150 institutions. Examples of these partnerships in the public sector for specific countries include Indonesia (ICRR, ICATAD, Dinas Pertanian), Cambodia (three ministries associated with agriculture and water development), Laos (NAFRI, NAFREC), Myanmar (MAS), the Philippines (PhilRIce, DA, PCCARD, ITA, local government units), Thailand (Rice Department, a range of universities), and Vietnam (CLRRI, provincial DARDs, PPD, various academies of VAAS, universities). Private-sector and civil society partnerships are also many and include, for example, Syngenta, World Vision (Vietnam and Laos), CRS (Philippines), Kellogg, Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders Association, GrainPro, and many private companies associated with the rice value chain (see theme 4). We will continue to build a platform for delivery on three pillars: adaptive research, which has active involvement of end-users (e.g., smallholder farmers, small and large millers), learning alliances, and effective partnerships with key actors in national, provincial, and local extension. Nationally, we actively work to establish effective communication with key policy advisors, and work closely with national extension partners to establish and test innovative pathways for the delivery and dissemination of technologies and processes for improving rice productivity. The establishment of learning alliances early in the development of projects has provided a highly effective pathway for the diffusion of NRM technologies. Effective environmental stewardship of rice agroecosystems for future generations is facilitated through partnerships with FAO, UNEP, local university partners, etc., and is exemplified by the project on agricultural engineering of lowland rice landscapes in Thailand and Vietnam, and our engagement with the SP-IPM program of the CGIAR. We will also work closely with national partners in fostering the development and implementation of “good agricultural practices for rice.”

Uptake and impact pathway

The public sector has a dominant role in the dissemination of production technologies in Southeast and East Asia, though in postharvest options the private sector has a major role. In consequence, IRRI’s support to uptake and impact pathways will be differentiated according to pre- and postharvest production technologies. In common, however, activities will provide support to planning in national and regional programs (an example, RSSP-Philippines). In the Philippines and Vietnam, accredited extension agronomists will support grass-roots extension capacity in farmer intermediary institutions and organizations. 
Large-scale dissemination will build on experience derived from the IRRC’s ICOP dissemination experience that provides linkages between adaptive research and extension. RKBs, along with innovative communication products, will support the capacity development of extension and resources for their training of farmers. To support innovative delivery mechanisms for NGOs, particularly for poorer farmers and women, and potentially for farmer associations to support emerging leadership, a limited grass-roots competitive fund will be established.   
    There will be strong linkages to product development under themes 1, 2, 3, and 4 and also with the IRRC and CURE. Impact pathway monitoring and evaluation will be linked with theme 5.        

Financing strategy

Financial support is currently provided through a number of research and development initiatives—SDC, ADB, ACIAR, and private-sector grants (IFA, IPNI, IPI, Kellogg) for supporting the IRRC; an IFAD grant for CURE; and Philippine government grants for the RSSP. Co-investments are being made through national and provincial extension and development efforts in all countries to which this product line contributes. IRRI has been approached concerning larger-scale investment opportunities with the World Bank for Vietnam, AusAID for Cambodia, and USAID for Cambodia. The IRRI expert technical group will actively seek such links as a subcontractor for the rice component of larger projects. Project funds will be sought to develop the partnerships, and innovative communication and extension approaches required to support large-scale delivery. New funding is required to build up a strong, professional extension support team at IRRI to link science with development efforts on the ground. Further support is required to support the development of communication approaches and information systems.

Box 17. Impact example for product 6.3.2: Alternate wetting and drying irrigation (AWD)

IRRI pioneered research on water-saving technologies to cope with increasing irrigation water scarcity already in the early 1970s with experiments at the IRRI farm under nonflooded conditions to find out the sensitive stages of rice under water shortage. In the late 1980s and the 1990s, field experiments with saturated soil culture and various forms of alternate wetting and drying involved research partners in the Philippines, PhilRice and CLSU. At the same time, water-saving technologies were developed and disseminated to farmers in China, and, in 2002, IRRI started collaboration with Chinese universities (Wuhan University of Hydrology and Electrical Engineering and Huazhong Agricultural University as research partners) and irrigation system managers (dissemination partners: Zanghe Irrigation System and Liuyuankou Irrigation System). This collaboration also involved CSIRO, and was aimed at an in-depth understanding of water × nutrient interactions under AWD, optimizing AWD scenarios, impact assessment of adoption of AWD by farmers, and the role of policies and infrastructure). Learning from this collaboration in China was transferred to target developing countries through IRRI’s networks and consortia.

By the early 2000s, IRRI started collaborating with R&D partners and extension partners with farmer participatory and adaptive research in target countries in Asia through the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium. New partners included the National Irrigation Administration, Bulacan Agricultural State College, and the Bureau of Soil and Water Management in the Philippines. The principle of safe AWD was developed in which 15–30% of irrigation water can be saved without significant yield loss, and farmers started adopting safe AWD in pump-irrigation systems in Central Luzon. Based on these positive results, extension and training materials were developed and tested in the Philippines. Through the IRRC, training for R&D partners, extensionists, NGOs, and other agencies was organized in various provinces and regions of the Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos, Indonesia, and Myanmar. Whereas some institutes in these countries started their own R&D program on AWD (such as NOMAFSI, FCRI, and CLRRI in Vietnam; Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and Rural Development Academy in Bangladesh), more and more agencies with an extension and dissemination mandate became involved. AfricaRice started research on AWD around 2005.

Throughout 2005-10, large-scale diffusion of safe AWD (along with generic sound water management practices) was increasingly facilitated by formal extension and “boundary” partners who took up the technology and incorporated it in their outreach activities:

  • In Vietnam, the Department of Plant Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of An Giang Province (DARD-AG) in the Mekong Delta adopted safe AWD: in 2009, four training courses for district extension workers were organized, 50 demonstration plots were established, and safe AWD was incorporated in the provincial “5 Reductions, One Must Do” program for farmers. By 2010, tens of thousands of farmers were estimated to have adopted the technology. It is expected to result in a 10–30% water savings and 15% yield increase, thanks to a reduction in lodging, which often occurs in direct-seeded rice.
  • In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Cooperation, Barenda Multipurpose Development Authority, and Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) established demonstration plots in farmers’ fields in different ecological zones. DAE trained more than 400 of its staff members on AWD and established 460 demonstration farms in 25 districts. Practical Action, an NGO, conducted demonstrations with 400 farmers, while Syngenta-Bangladesh trained its own 1,200 employees and currently works with 50,000 farmers on AWD. The AWD work in Bangladesh culminated in a national Workshop on “Adoption and Success of AWD Technology for Rice Production” held in July 2009, in which the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture supported AWD and directed DAE to upscale the technology nationwide. DAE and other agencies, including NGOs and Syngenta, have plans to disseminate AWD to more than 50 districts in 2010, covering more than 12,000 ha of boro rice. Tens of thousands of farmers are estimated to have adopted the technology. In-country reports mention an on-farm reduction in water use of 15–30%, which translates into a reduction in pumping cost and fuel consumption, and increased income of US$67–97 per hectare.
  • In the Philippines, a highlight of AWD adoption has been the inclusion of AWD as one of the key technologies to be used in the National Rice Self-Sufficiency Program. The secretary of the Department of Agriculture has issued an Administrative Order directing all agencies concerned to adopt AWD and other water-saving technologies in all water management nationwide. Under the name “controlled irrigation,” AWD has been included in the official Rice Check (Palay Check). It is estimated that, in 2010, more than 60,000 farmers have adopted safe AWD.

While safe AWD is being disseminated and adopted, IRRI continues research on water savings beyond the safe/no-yield-penalty threshold, and investigates impacts of AWD on emissions of greenhouse gases. IRRI stopped basic research on safe AWD by 2005.

Past and projected research to impact pathway of AWD in Asia.






Beyond 2010


First trials on nonflooded rice at IRRI farm

First field experiments on nonflooded rice with partners in Philippines

Joint field experiments in China and multidisciplinary study of water-saving technologies  and their adoption

Background research on AWD beyond safe/no yield penalty and on GHG emissions begun at IRRI farm

Safe AWD extended with residue and nutrient management to reduce global warming potential




First on-farm adaptive trials in the Philippines with training and extension partners

Widespread diffusion of safe AWD by a range of partners in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Bangladesh; training and extension activities in Myanmar and Indonesia

AWD fully mainstreamed in extension efforts by formal extension institutes, relevant NGOs, and civil society organizations in Southeast Asia; AWD tested in light soils and in rice-nonrice cropping systems by partners in South Asia; local training materials developed; AWD tested in target African countries through GRiSP




Concept of safe AWD developed, along with prototype training and extension materials

Training and extension materials translated into Vietnamese, Burmese, various Philippine languages, and Bangladeshi; E-learning training course

Training and extension materials on AWD included in curricula of agricultural colleges, universities, and extension certification schemes

Research partners


CLSU, PhilRice

CLSU, PhilRice,


CLSU, PhilRice,


PhilRice, AfricaRice, NAFRI (Laos),

CSISA-R&D partners in South Asia

Dissemination partners






CSISA-partners in South Asia