Native rice trials begin in a $1.4 million project

Native rice trials begin in a $1.4 million project

A 10-year collaborative research project seeking to commercialise native rice in Northern Australia, and support Aboriginal enterprise, has commenced growing trials.

Three species of native rice will be grown at Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade’s (DITT) Coastal Plains Research Farm and in shade houses at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus. The project aims to see native rice produced as a high value, culturally identified Australian grain giving economic benefit to Indigenous communities and enterprises.

“One species, Oryza australiensis, only occurs in Australia, mainly south of Katherine. The other two species, Oryza rufipogon and Oryza meridionalis, occur in the floodplains in the Top End and across to Cape York in the east and to the Kimberley in the west. These species are being explored for growth, yield and grain quality,” said CDU’s Dr Bellairs.

DITT researchers will provide invaluable support with expertise in rice agronomy and use of their propagation facilities, while Queensland University of Technology (QUT) collaborators have developed protocols to investigate the nutritional properties of the grains. Once preliminary trials are completed, the team will scale up to trial commercial quantities.

DITT’s, Executive Director of Agriculture, Phil Hausler said the project is an exciting opportunity to leverage the Territory’s natural advantages to help develop an understanding of the best management practices for the cultivation and processing of native rice.

"We know agribusiness is one of the economic drivers of the Northern Territory (NT) and this research will assist in attracting and facilitating investment, growing our export markets and supporting Aboriginal business development and employment opportunities,” Mr Hausler said.

The collaborative project led by CDU is funded through the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre, with partners QUT, DITT, and commercial partners Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours (NT), Olive Vale Pastoral Pty Ltd (QLD) and Myera Group (Canada).

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Last updated: 17 November 2020

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