Charles Darwin University (CDU) has been successful in its bid, as part of a consortium with five other universities, for $35 million in national funding to develop Darwin and other regional centres as major agri-food hubs.
The Australian Government recently agreed to fund the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which is expected to include a $1.8 million project for CDU to develop commercially viable native rice as an agri-business.
CDU Research Institute for the Environments and Livelihoods (RIEL) researchers Dr Sean Bellairs and Dr Penny Wurm said the expected value of the CDU native rice project would be more than $200,000 in funding a year for the next decade.
“It’s very exciting as now that we have the support, we could potentially put Darwin on the map as a major producer of a range of native rice,” Dr Sean Bellairs said.
He said that RIEL also would undertake further research on how to protect the rice while propagating it in the wetlands.
“The NT Government’s Department of Primary Industry and Resources will also be providing invaluable support with their expertise and use of their propagation facilities,” he said.
Dr Wurm said the project aimed to produce the rice on land near Fogg Dam owned by Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours, a long-term partner with CDU researchers.
“Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours are very popular with tourists wanting to experience Aboriginal culture and produce,” she said.
“They have suitable land to use and hope to feature the rice on their menus and at the visitor centre.”
Dr Bellairs said the CRC was a collaborative program for projects that worked across the food supply chain and incorporated innovations in protected cropping, advanced manufacturing, smart logistics, and food science to underpin high-value industries in agri-food hubs across Australia.