Issue 1
Monday, 04 March 2019
Charles Darwin University
RIEL researchers Dr Sean Bellairs and Dr Penny Wurm
RIEL researchers Dr Sean Bellairs and Dr Penny Wurm

Northern Australia set to go wild about rice

By Danielle Lee-Ryder

Charles Darwin University has joined a $505,000 collaborative project set to lay the foundation for a Northern Australia rice sector. 

The project, which is being funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, could see the production of more than one million tonnes of specialty rice annually.

The project is being led by the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland and includes Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Rice Research Australia, Olive Vale Pastoral and Savannah Ag Consulting.

CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) researcher Dr Sean Bellairs said the project was the first of its kind in Australia.

“This project will take a broad look at the whole Northern Australia rice supply chain and really zero in on the opportunities for development of native rices and other specialty adapted rices,” he said.

“It will identify the challenges and what research and development needs to be done by industry and researchers to solve those challenges and facilitate growth across the industry.”

RIEL researcher Dr Penny Wurm said CDU’s involvement in this project was in wild harvesting and the potential cultivation of native rice in partnership with Pudakul Aboriginal Culture Tours and NT’s Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

“One of CDU’s roles will be to investigate what benefits will flow to Indigenous Territorians in particular.”

The 18-month research project will evaluate various Northern rice industry scenarios and the potential for commercial use of genes from Australian wild rice to support the breeding of rice for increased local and global production.