Rice production has been attempted in several places and on several occasions in the Northern Australia in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Analysis of these experiences provides useful background to current efforts to establish a rice industry in Northern Australia. The scope of a potential industry is being evaluated by a CRC for Developing Northern Australia project. Rice production could be based upon cultivation of wild rice as close relatives of domesticate rice are native to the region. Conventional rice types are also options but these require adaptation to ensure resistance to the many native pests and diseases of rice in the North because the crop is effectively native to the area.
A further option is to inter-breed the wild and domesticated types to produce a rice type specifically adapted to Northern Australia but with many of the desirable attributes of conventional rice. The value of these different strategies is being assessed in terms of both feasibility and attractiveness. The most desirable traits for incorporation to a Northern rice are being identified with the aim of producing a distinctive rice style for consumers to allow product differentiation and premium prices to be attained.
Wild rice growing in northern Australia's crocodile-infested waters could help boost global food security, say University of Queensland researchers who have mapped its genetic family tree. Valuable traits from the wild rice - such as drought tolerance and pest and disease resistance - can be bred into commercial rice strains, said Professor Robert Henry from the Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation.
This piece was kindly written and contributed by Professor Robert J Henry,Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation University of Queensland.
Network with Professor Henry at this year’s Developing Northern Australia Conference!