University of the Philippines Los Baños

The University of the Philippines at Los Baños has always been a firm partner and ally of the International Rice Research Institute in its research mission, hosting IRRI’s headquarters and providing a steady and reliable stream of scientists and scientific training since the Institute’s founding in 1960.

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Even before IRRI's founding, the Rockefeller and Ford foundations had started discussing the possibility of setting up the Institute at the campus of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA), which would later become UPLB. 

With the strong support of the Philippine government,and because of the UPCA’s excellent quality of instruction and research in the agricultural sciences, the campus was selected as the best place to set up IRRI.

In 1959, UPCA leased land to IRRI. The current lease extends to the year 2025. The relationship between the Philippines’ top university in agriculture and the life sciences and the world’s premier research center on rice continues to flourish and bear fruit.

UPLB and IRRI have a rich common history, packed with milestones that resonate throughout Asia and, increasingly, to other parts of the world in which rice is grown and consumed.

From the Green Revolution in the 1960s to the second Green Revolution that has started brewing in Asia’s unfavorable rice environments, IRRI continues to make a difference toward securing food and farmers’ livelihoods, and its excellent conduct of science continues to borrow significantly from the expertise that UPLB produces.

"IRRI is part of UPLB, UPLB is part of IRRI," said Fernando Sanchez, Jr., UPLB Chancellor, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility at IRRI Headquarters (January 2015)

UPLB's strong culture of research and development started after the founding of the UPCA, its first college, in 1909.

UPLB developed many of the country's most important innovations on improving food production and promoting environmental sustainability. The R&D mandate of UPLB is carried out in collaboration with member institutions of the Los Baños science community that includes IRRI. Both are members of the Los Baños Science Community Foundation Inc. (LBSCFI), a group hosted by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

UPLB-IRRI collaboration

Highlights of collaboration

  • Since 1962, IRRI has supported more than 1,300 UPLB students, faculty members, and staff members—more than half of whom were MS degree students, 29% were PhD students, and 12% BS students, interns, or on-the job trainees through full scholarships or research support for theses or dissertations and were supervised by IRRI scientists. Almost 1 out of 3 of those supported by IRRI were female.
  • Today, around 50 IRRI staff members have been appointed as adjunct faculty members at UPLB, serving in committees for the evaluation of PhD and MS students.
  • UPLB, IRRI, and PhilRice have committed to jointly promote and accelerate research and training in rice, rice-based farming systems, and rural development; and to continually improve coordination and management of collaboration in the Philippines.
  • 25% of the current IRRI workforce are UPLB alumni

Collaborative projects

IRRI shares resources, such as farm machinery, with UPLB as needed. It has also donated scientific equipment and vehicles to the university, as well as shared the expertise of its staff members who provide technical guidance and advice to UPLB students.

In 1990, a council was created to strengthen collaboration between UPLB and IRRI and coordinate joint projects, two of which are described below:

  • The UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management helped assess IRRI’s containment facility for biotechnology research. A special greenhouse for transgenics research is being used by both IRRI and UPLB staff under a genetic engineering program for rice.
  • Gender concerns among national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) were discussed through IRRI’s research project on women in rice farming systems, which started in 1986.

Current collaboration

Completed collaborative projects (as of 2014)

UPLB alumni as pillars of IRRI

Some Philippine national scientists have served IRRI as international staff members or consultants. Among them were:

  • Gelia Castillo, UPLB professor emeritus and IRRI consultant
  • Ben Juliano, cereal chemist
  • Ben Vergara, agronomist and administrator

UPLB alumni who are or have been staff members or consultants at IRRI include:

  • Marcos Vega, former deputy director general or DDG (1971-86) and the first Filipino to be appointed as such at IRRI
  • Fernando Bernardo, former DDG for international programs (1986-99)
  • William Padolina, former DDG for partnerships and operations
  • Ben Vergara

tolentino-contactV. Bruce J. Tolentino

Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships
Co-chair, IRRI-UPLB Joint Management Committee
+63 (2) 580 5600 ext. 2705 or 2213