Singapore pledges $8.2m to Asia rice science for the next five years

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Singapore pledges $8.2m to Asia rice science for the next five years

Related tags: Rice, International rice research institute

Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) has said it will invest $8.2m in a joint research program that aims to ensure food security and future rice demands are met throughout Asia.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) are conducting the research program in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Singapore now joins research and development partners worldwide in the Global Rice Science Partnership, a global strategic plan for rice research, led by IRRI.

IRRI’s deputy director general for research, Dr Achim Dobermann told FoodNavigator-Asia: “The Global Rice Science Partnership brings together more than 900 rice research and development partners worldwide in a strategic and visionary plan to increase the impact of rice science to ensure food security, address poverty and ensure rice is grown in an environmentally sustainable way.”

He added: “We are delighted to see Singapore stepping up as a regional leader with this investment in international rice research.”

Project leader Professor Prakash Kumar from NUS’s Department of Biological Sciences said: “This grant will enable our teams to help improve yield and disease resistance in rice, as well as adapt the crop to rapidly changing environmental conditions.”

The overall aim of the program is to ‘develop elite and improved varieties [of rice] for sustainable rice production’​ throughout Asia, according to the NRF.

A global issue

The NRF said: “With rice a staple food for over three billion of the world’s population and its production hitting saturation point, there is an obvious need to find a solution to the ever-growing demand. Given Singapore’s total reliance on imported rice, it makes sense for the republic to contribute to the stability of rice production by researching on the development of improved varieties.”

IRRI’s Dobermann, said: “We need to be thinking beyond national borders to help tackle food supply issues and Singapore is showing real leadership within Asia by doing just that.”

According to IRRI research, the world needs to produce 8-10m tons more rice than it does every year to ensure a reliable supply of rice globally whilst maintaining affordable prices.

The investment is part of the NRF’s pledge to support ‘future food demands’.

NRF has also pledged investment in aquaculture genomics research and development, to increase Singapore’s food fish production as well as a project to develop virus-controlling biotechnologies to achieve cost-efficient and sustainable aquaculture.

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