For the INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, which as director I have the privilege to represent, this is a day of pride, of gratitude and of renewed dedication. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an honor of such consequence that those upon whom it is bestowed cannot but be subdued by a deepened sense of their responsibilities to mankind and stimulated by an active need to find new ways in which to serve. Thus, the Award simultaneously endows the recipients with historic recognition and confronts them with a subtle challenge.
For all who share in our endeavors, the fact that the International Rice Research Institute was selected for its contribution to "international understanding" is a most meaningful and satisfying circumstance of the honor. As is evident from its name, an international theme was implicit in the role of the Institute from the start. There was never any doubt that the problems that called such an institute into being were international in scope, nor that the talent needed to attack them would exceed national boundaries, ignoring such irrelevancies as race and creed.
In the audience today are most of the Institute's top scientists, representing seven nationalities. Each was invited to join the organization for reasons completely outside national and ethnic origins, but concerned instead with such appropriate distinctions as education, experience and ability. The resultant heterogeneity enlivened rather than hindered the program.
Similarly, in the Institute's housing area the successful commingling of races and cultures is a fascinating and observable fact. There, some 60 children, playing together in the apparent absence of any segregation principle other than age group, offer further proof that much of man's pride and prejudice is unnatural and is due largely to the conditioned responses of young minds molded by the dictates of traditional social environments.
In an even wider range of geographic diversity, the Institute's present training programs in rice production and rice research together include participants from 20 different countries, not only of Asia but of Africa and Latin America as well. After living and working together for periods of six months to two years, such persons return home not only as exponents of modern rice technology but also as agents and catalysts for improved international understanding.
Indeed, international understanding seems to be a valuable if inadvertent by-product of the Institute's efforts to improve world rice production. As our scientists travel abroad and as other, particularly Asian, scientists visit them here, cooperative projects are initiated, ideas are exchanged and mutual respect develops.
There is a further gratifying aspect of the Institute's inclusion in today's ceremonies. As an organization founded and located in the Philippines, employing and largely dependent on the services of Filipinos, beholden to the Government of the Philippines and to its educational adjuncts for vital cooperation, and identified in innumerable ways with the daily life of this Republic, the International Rice Research Institute can conceive of no prize more fitting than the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
On the subject of the Institute's host country, no accolade is complete without warm mention of the Institute's neighbors at the College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines, nor without a special tribute to their dynamic leader. The willing efforts and invaluable assistance of the dean and his colleagues have meant for the Institute a sum total of professional and congenial cooperation without which the accomplishments of the International Rice Research Institute would be notably less. Indeed, if those who had a hand in selecting the site of the Institute about 10 years ago were to repeat the search, clearly our choice should be the same.
The environment could not have been more rewarding. Today it is evident that the Philippines has set an example for the world of how a disciplined, well-organized national effort can bring to the point of self-sufficiency in rice a country formerly dependent on the importation of that prime commodity. The achievement would not have been possible, of course, without the complete backing and the intense interest of the President, without the coordinated efforts of government agencies and of progressive civic groups nor, let us remember, without the courage of the farmers to break away from the past.
It seems fitting, furthermore, that we of the Institute remind ourselves that no such venture as our succeeds without initial and continuous support, and that the International Rice Research Institute would not be represented at these celebrated proceedings today—would not, indeed, exist at all—were it not for the two foundations that not only endowed with reality the vision of such an institute but also were responsible for the very conception of that vision. Our debt to the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, who continue to provide the funds and the moral backing essential to the Institute's operation, is too immense for repayment except in terms of gratitude and of dedicated performance now and in future.
The coming decade promises to be even more challenging for the Institute than the last. IR-8, the so-called "miracle rice," soon will be replaced by varieties equally high-yielding but with greatly improved grain appearance and eating and cooking qualities. Those varieties in turn will be succeeded by others with even more desirable characteristics. Supporting such plant improvement will be innovations in management practices and in farm machinery, the whole backed by concentrated attention to the economic problems arising from consistently high rice yields.
Such advances will not concern the Institute alone but increasingly will be shared by other research stations through Asia, and elsewhere. We earnestly hope, nevertheless, that for many years to come the International Rice Research Institute will be known as a center of excellence to which the developing countries may look for stimulation and inspiration, no less than for new data and scientific findings. We hope that our hundreds of "graduate" (if such they may be termed) will serve as nuclei of constructive agricultural change, and that the benefits of the "rice revolution" will adequately feed and significantly enrich the lives of the rice-consuming and rice-growing peoples of the world.
The challenge is constant, for future advances in food production even at their combined maximum cannot indefinitely keep abreast of the needs of a rapidly expanding world population. Man must soon resolve to control his own numbers, or face extinction. Certainly, his reason will prevail and he will continue to inherit the earth!
In the meantime, to make our planet abundant in every form of human food is a critical necessity. Toward that need the International Rice Research Institute rededicates its efforts and, in the process, resolves to continue to further the cause of human understanding.