The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an autonomous, non-profit, agricultural research and training organization with offices in more than ten nations. The Institute’s main goal is to find sustainable ways to improve the well being of present and future generations of poor rice farmers and consumers while at the same time protecting the natural environment. Most of IRRI’s research is done in cooperation with the national agricultural research and development institutions, farming communities, and other organizations of the world’s rice producing nations.
IRRI was established in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. Its research activities began in 1962 and are now estimated to have touched the lives of almost half the world’s population. The IRRI played a major role in sparking the Green revolution on the field of rice when it developed a new breed in the 1960s.
The Institute’s research headquarters includes laboratories and training facilities on a 252-hectare experimental farm on the lower campus of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna, about 60 kilometers south of the Philippine capital, Manila. In addition to rice research, IRRI is also very active in local communities providing educational scholarships; organizing income-generating training activities and arranging other community projects that will help improve living conditions in the poor communities that neighbor the Institute.
IRRI was established to help poor rice farmers in developing countries grow more rice on less land using less water, less labor, and fewer chemical inputs. By helping to greatly boost production and ease the use of farm chemicals during its first 40 years, IRRI clearly showed the importance of rice and agricultural research in helping poor nations develop. The Institute’s importance has been further reinforced by the private sector’s traditional lack of interest in rice research.
The Institute has received many prizes and awards, including the UNESCO Science Prize.
Paradoxically, despite the Institute being located in the Philippines, the Philippines is currently the world's largest rice importer.