News: Results from Rice Training, July 2014

Visiting Molecular Marker Applications laboratory

Visiting Molecular Marker Applications laboratory

With Crawford Fund support, Aaron Preston, a PhD Student from Charles Sturt University, participated in the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) “Rice Research to Production (RR2P)” course in May – June in the Philippines.

The RR2P is an broad course that covers all aspects of the rice cycle from production, research and evaluation, as well as a focus on developing the next generation of scientists and extension workers.

“The course is an amazing opportunity for any young research student who is interested in rice development or international agricultural research,” said Aaron.

Tilling paddy with carabao

Tilling paddy with carabao

The course gave students a range of experiences, from being knee deep in mud, levelling a rice paddy with a water buffalo, to visiting state of the art laboratories analysing the genetics of rice.

In this course participants were thoroughly immersed in all aspects of genomics research including the germplasm collection, analysis and implementation activities. Aaron said, “to see the development of research from inception to the introduction of a product that has a real, lasting and significant impact was incredible.”

Participants saw firsthand the difficulties faced by subsistence rice farmers, which gave Aaron an appreciation of the challenges and importance of developing rice varieties to feed a rapidly growing world.

Constructing a rice nursery

Constructing a rice nursery

“Through my interactions with other students I learnt about the difficulties and challenges they face within their countries in regards to agriculture. The interviews with farmers from Banawe and Nueva Ecija highlighted the challenges faced by subsistence farmers, as well as the importance and difficulties in agricultural extension,” Aaron said.

The course also provided professional development opportunities. Participants interacted with renowned experts and a diverse group of students from around the world. Aaron said he “was given advice on how to write grant applications, as well as how to develop and cultivate career pathways and collaboration.”

The benefits of this training will extend beyond the duration of the course, especially as a result of the opportunity the course afforded the participants to establish professional networks.

The Crawford Fund is sponsoring Aaron to attend the 2014 Crawford Annual Conference.