Developing new resilient rice strains for farmers

Vietnamese farmer

Food security and the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions are major global challenges and rice production affects both areas. Rice is one of the most important staple crops, but the burning of hundreds of millions of tonnes of rice straw causes widespread and severe air pollution.

This Newton Fund project aims to develop alternative uses for rice straw and move it from a problem to a resource. It is part of the Newton Fund UK-China-Philippines-Thailand-Vietnam collaborative research programme. The team has established a state-of-the-art crop improvement platform based on genomic studies with a key group of rice cultivars. They are using this platform to make rice straw more attractive for animal feed and biofuels production, as well as to improve the resilience of rice crops to salt and drought stress.

The project has identified commercial rice cultivars with good quality straw characteristics such as improved digestibility, higher starch and lower silica content, for applications in animal feed and biofuel production. It is training Vietnamese rice breeders, academics and students in the techniques involved in improving rice cultivars.

It is a great privilege to be supporting the efforts of our colleagues in Vietnam and the Philippines in their work to find attractive applications for rice straw that will take it away from being burned and generate enhanced livelihoods for farmers.

Professor Simon McQueen-Mason

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2017

Developing Rice Resources for Resilience to Climate Change and Mitigation of Carbon Emissions

Project leads: Professor Simon McQueen-Mason, Biology Department at the University of York, UK, Professor Nguyen Van Tuat, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Vietnam, Professor Nguyen Tri Hoan and Dr Duong Xuan Tu, Field Crops Research Institute, Vietnam

Project partners: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research and Council Ministry of Science and Technology, Vietnam

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