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UK-China-Thailand-Philippines-Vietnam research underpins the long-term sustainable future of rice

Read the full announcement with details of the projects funded on the BBSRC website

Today, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has announced a total of 13 projects to be funded through the UK - China - Thailand - Philippines - Vietnam Newton Fund Sustainable Rice Programme, across a range of research areas, to underpin the long-term sustainable production of rice.

Rice grain

Rice is the staple food of over half the world's population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, nine countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize (corn) 5%. 

Projects led by leading UK bioscience researchers and institutions include both bilateral and multilateral teams, involving research teams in China, the Philippines, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam.

Following announcement of the successful projects a grant-holders workshop will be held from 9 -11 January 2017. This will be attended by around 70 leading and early career researchers from China, the Philippines, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam, working on the projects funded under this programme. Also in attendance will be representatives from the funding agencies involved in the initiative, and representatives from the British Embassy and RCUK China teams.

The Sustainable Rice Programme has enjoyed a high profile within the Newton Fund Programme as a whole, due to its innovative mix of regional and country approaches addressing core challenges for global and regional food security in a changing climate and developing resilience to crop pests and diseases.

The programme funders were pleased to see 13 projects funded, addressing a broad range of important issues such as rice quality, resource use and photosynthetic efficiency, resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses, and novel research tool and technology development, all of which will enhance the sustainable production of rice.

Speaking on behalf of BBSRC, Professor Melanie Welham, Chief Executive of BBSRC added: “It is critically important for regional co-operation to address the big questions in food security in the face of a changing world climate. We are delighted that this initiative has successfully brought together funders from all countries and is priming partnerships across this region that will, no doubt, lead to similarly important future research collaborations”.