Public sector research on rice must continue, and Wageningen UR has a role to play, argued Professor Louise Fresco this week in Wageningen. The United Nations has dubbed 2004 the international year of rice.
Plant Research International has carried out research on rice cultivation systems which use up to four times less water than traditional systems. Biotechnology research on rice is also promising, continued Fresco, as much has already been done, the results are public knowledge and the rice genome is relatively short. Innovations such as golden rice with in-built vitamin A are just a start. She emphasised, however, that research must concentrate on applications that can be used by small-scale farmers, by far the largest group of rice growers. Fresco concluded her lecture with a plea to Wageningen UR to make a serious contribution to international rice research.