Getting Your Word Out Globally Without Global Costs

In my most recent post about “rice world,” I gave a quick view of my visit at the International Rice Research Institute. Since I was going there with a couple of PhDs in plant breeding, I anticipated meeting with scientists (which was exactly what happened in a few other Los Banos institutes)! But I was in for a surprise and a pleasant one in fact. Since I work everyday in communications, meeting with some of the communications team at IRRI was something I jumped into full force! In fact, I was so excited that the next time I got online, I posted a blog linking to the video we watched giving an overview of IRRI.

So what did we talk about?

While I know a lot of meat and potato people, Gene reminded me of 2008 when prices surged overnight grocery stores and warehouses like Costco. And we discussed the reality is that rice is one of the foods that sustains the majority of the world’s poor and a significant percentage lives on less than $1 a day.  Then I recalled news crews showed riots in developing markets of Africa and Asia. And with population growth, he said there will be 3.5 billion rice consumers in 2025.  Wow.

IRRI’s mandate is to research and develop improvements in rice.  Gene said there is a vast reservoir of knowledge to tap.  And his challenge is how to share that information broadly.And when you have people throughout the world growing rice, how do you get that information into people’s hands? And layer in that the challenge is to disseminate that info globally on a limited budget? In terms of managing financial and environmental resources, is it really a good idea to have warehouses of books? Especially when the research was paid for in part with public research funds?

While we talked about a variety of communications topics, it was the use of digital storage to economically and effectively distribute material through various online channels that interested me the most! Some of the things I was intrigued by the way this leverages free storage rather than IRRI servers:

  • Sharing 350 their books online via Google Books — They did a lot of the scanning in order to insure high quality graphics which can be important in scientific materials.
  • Flicker for photos using both public & private folders — that way they can share lots of photos widely while also saving the really good cover shots til IRRI has used them.
  • Videos on YouTube to tell stories broadly and on a timely basis.  And they can be used in presentations.

Gene talks through the use of the different channels, including the success of 1 million page views in the video below.  There is additional information in IRRI’s magazine Rice Today as the team published an article on “Rice Science in the Digital Age”

This is the fifth in a series of posts on Phillipines ag info picked up during a recent vacation.

  • First post was on my farm geekness that gets me out & about in agriculture while on “vacation.”
  • My second post was about plant breeding in Los Banos
  • The third post was on getting my bearings on the geography & agriculture.
  • Fourth was the piece on the field day celebrating Allied Botanical’s 25th anniversary.
  • Fifth discussed the role of rice in cultures, the different types and the research IRRI does on rice in broad terms.
  • And I posted the video we watched at IRRI here.  More to come later.
  • OH and for fun, you may want to see Bboy picking coconuts!

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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6 Responses to Getting Your Word Out Globally Without Global Costs

  1. Michael March 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Here’s the scoop on wild rice.
    Wild rice is any of the four species of plants that make up the genus Zizania (common names: Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats), a group of grasses that grow in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The genus is closely related to true rice, genus Oryza, which is also a grass, and shares the tribe Oryzeae. Three species of wild rice are native to North America:
    I see wild rice in my trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It will shell out into your canoe as you travel through it. Since it’s “wild” it is harder to harvest commercially. It’s seeds mature at different speeds on the came plant and will shatter off into the water quite easily when ripe.

    • Janice March 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

      WOW! Thanks for the info! That’s truly great insight. Any chance you have photos or anything to show me what you mean?

      My thought was more around what is actually included in the box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice and other products. I had understood from someone else that was actually a cultivated and not a true wild rice.

      • Michael March 29, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

        I’ve heard that some wild rice is grown in California.
        In northern Minnesota native Americans still harvest the old fashioned way. As one person poles the canoe through the shallow water, another uses two poles, one to bend the rice over the canoe and one to gently beat the ripe rice into the canoe. They can come back for several weeks and get more.
        Sorry, no photos. You could check the web. I’ve seen books on wild rice harvest herein bookstores.
        I was in Wild Rice Lake last summer. I remember it as a real hassle to paddle through. Still it’s a place not everyone can go to. You have to pay an admission price in sweat to get there. No roads.


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