Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has today awarded a $5 million grant to support research to improve rice crops by using new genomic-based tools.
The multidisciplinary team includes 14 institutions and will be coordinated by scientists at the University of Arkansas.
"USDA is committed to unlocking the benefits of genome research," said Veneman . "This grant will support critical research to better understand the genetic makeup of rice with the goal of improving milling quality and resistance to sheath blight disease."
Included in the project will be a novel extension program to engage those in the rice extension industry in agricultural genomics research and to explore the potential of the technology. Extension staff will also educate the public on the merits of applying genome information to improve agricultural crops.
The US department of agriculture predicts global production of rice to reach 401.8 million tons (milled basis) in 2004/05, up 10.8 million tons from 2003/04.
Global consumption continues to outpace production and is expected to grow 5.2 million tons to 417.9 million. Consequently, ending stocks are projected to plunge 16.1 million tons, with substantial declines expected in China, Thailand, and Vietnam, implying stronger prices throughout the 2004 and 2005 trade years.
Rice is a stable crop the world over but principally in Asia where the average person eats rice two or three times a day. The average person in Myanmar eats 195 kg of rice each year compared to their European counterpart who consumes just 3 kg a year.