Building regional security through rice

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20170310 mm itrcGRIFFITH, NSW, Australia – “Australia has an opportunity to contribute to regional security through food.” said Matthew Morell, Director General of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in his keynote address to the International Temperate Rice Conference on March 7th, 2017.

Dr. Morell went on to explain that as global demand for rice grows significantly over the next 25 years alongside global population, the world will be challenged to produce about 25% more rice with fewer inputs of land, water, and labor than we have today.

With 87% of the world’s rice consumed in the region, potential instability in rice production and pricing could pose risks to consumer food security and farmer’s incomes, creating a challenging situation for many of the region's lower socio-economic communities.

“Today, we have the science and technology to develop high-yield rice that is stress-tolerant and more resilient that still meets nutrition and quality standards.” said Morell. “The research and stewardship of Australia's rice sector has contributed significantly to a stable and prosperous industry. Continued collaboration in research, stewardship and capacity building to increase rice production in temperate and high-altitude regions is more important now - in the face of these challenges - than ever before.”

In his time with IRRI, Dr. Morell has been instrumental in shaping the institute’s research and outreach agenda, including IRRI’s leadership on climate change-ready rice, healthier rice varieties, farmer-friendly crop management and value chain practices as well as encouraging the next generation of rice scientists. Prior to that, Dr. Morell was theme leader at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where he led a research program on Future Grains and Plant Oil Production.

Temperate rice - rice varieties that thrive in colder climates - accounts for about 20% of global rice production. With the impact of climate change and more diversified diets across the growing global middle class, temperate rice production is becoming increasingly important to ensure global food security.

The International Temperate Rice Conference brought together scientists, experts and stakeholders from around Australia and the world from March 6-9th, 2017 in Griffith, Australia. With the theme Tradition, Technology, Productivity – A Balancing Act, the conference showcased and discussed recent advancements in rice research, technology, and innovation with an emphasis on temperate rice growing regions.

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