Learning all about rice production in the Philippines

April 30, 2020

As part of our concerted efforts to support and encourage the next generation of Australians in study, careers and volunteering in international agricultural research, the Crawford Fund State Committees proudly support our Student Awards

Our 2020 Student Awards are currently open! They are available for university students from every State and Territory so check out the backgrounder and apply online before 26 June 2020.

These awards allow university students from around Australia to include an international component to their studies, to travel to their host countries to research and explore their chosen topic areas and gain international agricultural research experience and expertise.

Throughout 2019, we have enjoyed sharing the journey of our 2018 recipients of these Awards and their experiences have been diverse and overwhelmingly positive. They are available here.

We now proudly present to you reports from our 2019 cohort who completed their travels and research prior to the COVID-19 travel ban. A sample of reports from each State include Jori Bremer from the University of New England; Nadeem Akmal from the University of Canberra;  Daniel Waterhouse from Murdoch University; Cassandra Davitt from the University of Melbourne; and, most recently Oliver Gales from the University of Tasmania and Rebekah Ash from the University of Queensland.

Nancy Saji, a PhD student at Charles Sturt University, was the recipient of a Student Award for a Rice: Research to Production Course scholarship in 2019.

The Crawford Fund’s NSW and ACT Committees have partnered with IRRI since 2009 to support a dozen scholarships for the next generation of university students to gain a deeper understanding of all facets of rice research and production as part of this short-course held annually and involving attendees from all over the world.

“I was very fortunate and grateful to be awarded a scholarship by the NSW Crawford Fund to attend the rice research to production course organised by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at their headquarters in the Philippines in 2019,” said Nancy.

IRRI is the world’s leading rice research organisation and it works to reduce poverty and hunger through rice science; improve the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protect the rice-growing environment for future generations. We are proud to have our Queensland Committee chair, Dr Kaye Basford, on the IRRI Board and Australian, Dr Matt Morrell, is the IRRI Director General.

Working with in-country partners, IRRI develops advanced rice varieties that yield more grain and better withstand pests and disease as well as flooding, drought, and other harmful effects of climate change.

“The program aimed to teach the participants about the fundamentals of rice production, obtain hands-on skills relating to rice production and breeding, gain new knowledge concerning diversity among rice varieties, and raise awareness related to food security,” said Nancy.

“This course was delivered through a combination of classroom lectures, group discussions and field sessions. Moreover, the course also provided the attendees with a great opportunity to network, hear about agricultural updates and developments from an international perspective and potentially form international collaborations,” she said.

The course also includes a visit to the International Rice Genebank, maintained by IRRI, which holds more than 130,000 samples – including cultivated species of rice, wild relatives and species from related genera. The genebank is the biggest collection of rice genetic diversity in the world.

Nancy visiting the rice genebank where more than 130,000 samples of rice, wild relatives and related species are housed. (Rice image on the right courtesy of IRRI).
2019 course participants from around the world at IRRI headquarters in the Philippines (left) and Australian participants Sam Coggins from the ACT and Nancy Saji (right).

A second scholarship went to Sam Coggins, supported by the ACT Committee and he will be reporting soon.