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New knowledge improves rice quality

Los Baos, Philippines -- A major international initiative is being launched to try to boost the income of the worlds millions of poor rice farmers and at the same time provide consumers with more nutritious, better tasting food.

New scientific knowledge is allowing rice researchers to develop better quality rice varieties that could fetch a higher price from consumers, especially increasingly affluent rice consumers in Asia.

The main aim of the new International Network for Quality Rice is to help rice breeders around the world develop varieties with improved quality traits such as better taste, aroma, and cooking characteristics as well as higher levels of nutrition. Once provided to farmers, the new varieties are expected to command a higher price among consumers, especially those in Asia, who, as they become increasingly affluent, are seeking and paying for better quality food.

"Much of this research would not have been possible ten years ago because we simply did not have the knowledge or the understanding of quality that we do now," Robert S. Zeigler, the director general of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute, said. "It really is a very exciting time to be involved in such research, especially because we can take the new scientific knowledge generated by activities such as the recent sequencing of the rice genome, and use it to improve the lives of the poor by providing either better quality food or increased income."

The quality rice network which was formed electronically in 2006 met for the first time last month during a three-day workshop entitled "Clearing Old Hurdles with New Science: Improving Rice Grain Quality" at IRRI. The event attracted 71 cereal chemists and other experts from more than 20 nations.

"Its very clear from the great response we got to the workshop that rice quality is becoming a very hot topic in rice research almost everywhere," the convener and head
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Contact: Duncan Macintosh
d.macintosh@cgiar.org
632-580-5673
International Rice Research Institute
7-May-2007


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