Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) PhD candidate Nancy Saji was awarded a scholarship by the NSW Crawford Fund to attend the rice research to production course at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.
“The program aims to teach the participants the fundamentals of rice production, develop hands-on skills relating to rice production and breeding, provide new knowledge about the diversity of rice varieties, and raise awareness of food security,” Ms Saji said.
“We took part in a combination of classroom lectures, group discussions and field sessions. It was a great opportunity to network, hear about agricultural updates and developments from an international perspective and potentially form international collaborations.”
Ms Saji said a highlight was hearing about innovative technologies designed to help local farmers.
“The ‘Rice doctor’ is a diagnostic tool, designed to help farmers identify problems in their crop and offer actionable guidance on how to overcome these issues,” she said.
“Another way technology is being used is through the interactive game, ‘Game of rice’ where rice production net profit can be potentially increased. The program simulates the probable conditions, problems and risks encountered by local farmers and by carefully selecting for appropriate solutions during these adversities, the game teaches the user to earn a higher net profit.
“It was also great to get a better understanding of the current agricultural problems faced by the Filipino farmers, including high production cost, low income and under-utilisation of rice by-products.
“During one of the group activities, my group members and I decided to provide potential solutions to these problems and we created a research proposal video aiming to address these issues.”
“I tried to use my own expertise gained from my PhD project which also aims to utilise rice by-products. Now, one of my group member who works at the department of agriculture wants to make this a reality and he has presented this video as a starting point to his seniors. So I am very excited for a potential collaboration with him in the near future.”