ITR Conference highlights importance of global collaboration

Photo credit: Brett Naseby

The 2017 International Temperate Rice Conference, held in Griffith NSW, has highlighted the importance of ongoing collaboration between the world’s rice growers, scientists and researchers to sustain the global rice industry.

Taking place from Monday 6 – Thursday 9 March 2017, the conference brought leading rice industry experts from around the world together to share their knowledge and tackle the biggest issues facing the industry, namely water productivity, sustainability and variety development.

In his welcome address, Conference Chair Russell Ford, Manager of Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL) highlighted the significance of the event in bringing the rice growing community together.

“I believe it is important that we continue this tradition and keep temperate rice at the forefront of our discussions,” he said.

“It is within this climate that we have seen some of the greatest creativity and ingenuity in rice growing, and it is events like this that bring the temperate rice community together, that will ensure the continued advancement of our field.”

Attended by close to 250 delegates from Australia, Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Spain, Japan, Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, China and the US, the conference was designed to not only showcase the latest research and developments in areas like breeding, extension, agronomy and precision agriculture, but to also foster partnerships and encourage networking between delegates.

Keynote speakers Dr Matthew Morell, International Rice Research Institute, and Dr Steve Linscombe, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, addressed the delegation, echoing the theme of collaboration when discussing sustainable development goals and strategies to make temperate rice more competitive, while Professor Melissa Fitzgerald, University of Queensland, talked about the biochemistry and genetics of aroma.

In the conference’s closing keynote address, former rice breeder Dr Laurie Lewin highlighted the common theme of collaboration expressed throughout much of the conference program, affirming the ability of events like the ITR Conference to bring the industry together.

“The International Temperate Rice Conference embodies that idea of collaboration and shared learning between all sectors of the rice industry,” he said.

“By working together, we can achieve much more than in our little country silos.”

Providing on-farm and field experiences for delegates throughout the conference was a high priority, with formalities beginning with a Farm Tour to Drew Braithwaite’s property in Benerembah.

The 120 participating delegates were able to see the latest weed management, nutrition and seeding techniques as well as drone technology and new rice variety trials.

The event concluded with a trip the Rice Industry Field Day at ‘Old Coree’ Jerilderie, where ITR Conference delegates joined with local growers to take part in a day of field walks, business and innovation forums and machinery displays.

Celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin was also on hand to entertain the 400+ attendees with a cooking demonstration at lunchtime.

The ITR Conference is held every few years by a different rice growing country, with Brazil set to host the next gathering in 2020.

“It has been a great privilege to host the ITR Conference in Australia in 2017 and to see so much support from local and international delegates alike,” said Mr Ford.

“We were able to share the fantastic work our Australian growers, scientists and researchers have been doing with our international peers, and gain new insight into the future of the industry from them in return.”

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