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Agrobiodiversity / / Agronomy for climate-smart agriculture in Latin America

Agronomy for climate-smart agriculture in Latin America

If you are about to enroll in or conduct your Ph.D. research, you could be part of a new generation of rice scientists with a Global Rice Science Scholarship (GRiSS).

Unpredictable climate is challenging farmers in Latin America (LAM) with changing, complex, and extremely variable conditions for agriculture. This affects irrigated rice as well as rainfed and upland rice. In fact, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has shown evidence that climate accounts for 30% to 40% of the production variability in some rice regions in Colombia.

Joint 4326121964_e4f166621a_befforts on multi-environment trials with detailed physiological evaluation, studies on the adaptation of elite lines, historical data analysis, and crop modeling in Colombia provided important inputs for initiating the development of a system to better manage rice under highly variable weather scenarios.

This system includes breeding in terms of relevant climatic factors, crop modeling to predict crop performance in a given weather scenario, modeling to predict the appearance of diseases, soil digital mapping, and computational analysis of massive amounts of data coming from farmers. For this reason, new approaches/profiles are required in order to support rice research on how to be more efficient producing rice in LAM.

A profile/scholar with the capability to understand the influence of agronomic, physiological, and environmental factors on rice yield, reasoning behind the analysis of large amounts of data, and Site-specific influence on rice production has become necessary to provide important insights in to the critical factors that affect rice yield. This could be achieved through the analysis and validation of data from ongoing projects of Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

At CIAT, we believe that important insights into agricultural research will come from harnessing agricultural data, physiology, and agronomy to generate new knowledge on agricultural constraints, and identify opportunities for major increases in rice production. This information can be used by breeders for developing new targeted germplasm that can perform better in certain regions and therefore moving beyond blanket technological solutions toward a system of dynamic site-specific management, which is sensitive and responsive to climate, soil, and local conditions.

We want to develop a large case study, targeting two contrasting production systems in Latin America (a site with high yield potential and a site with high yield variability). For each site, the scholar will use tools such as empirical big data modeling, plant modeling, and controlled experiments in order to:

  • Identify target-prone environments and present a hypothesis of the factors that limit yield using mainly historical data.
  • Validate this hypothesis with field experiments.
  • Suggest interesting plant traits or combinations that should be looked into by breeders.

About GRiSS

The GRiSS offers young scientists the chance to be experts in a scientific discipline relevant to agriculture and to have a broader understanding of global issues that affect rice science for development.

The GRiSS is a great opportunity for scientists who are in the early stages of their career and are working in a national agricultural research and extension system in a developing country.

All GRiSS are awarded on a competitive basis for developed- and developing-country candidate participation. A Selection Committee composed of the head of training or his or her counterpart from the research institution involved, the head of the research unit and program involved, and concerned scientists will evaluate candidates based on certain eligibility requirements.

How to apply

Go to this link and click on ‘Apply now’ 

For more information about the elegibility requirementes please go to the link: or write to the email

Applications must be submitted on or before 30 November 2014. All candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

Written by: Karina Feijoo


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  • Reinhardt Howeler: Thanks, Keith. It was a pleasure writing this book as it brought back so many good memories of working with cassava, both in Latin America and in Asia. I was lucky that the Nippon Foundation suggested that I write this book and financed its publication. They also wanted a simplified version for farmers and extension workers that could be translated into various languages. The English version of this new book is now going to press in Hanoi, while the Khmer and Vietnamese translations are also ready for printing and the Thai and Chinese translations are still being worked on. In case you are interested in the English version, let me know. My email address is still And let me know where you are working now and what you are doing. Reinhardt
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