Message from Bob Zeigler, Director General Emeritus, International Rice Research Institute

Message from Bob Zeigler, Director General Emeritus, International Rice Research Institute

Welcome to the World Rice Conference! I am delighted to be part of the effort to create a holistic experience for the entire world rice sector. I am convinced that the time is right to bring the trade, industry and policy components of the rice sector together with the research community. After all, research enables the growth in rice production upon which the rice trade depends. Rice is the world’s most important food staple; but the world is undergoing dramatic demographic and climatic changes. How global rice supplies meet these challenges will depend on adoption of research outcomes, industry engagement, government policies and a vibrant trade.

We know that rice production is under threat from rising sea levels and dwindling fresh water supplies in important rice producing areas. Crop management practices and rice varieties themselves will have to adapt to these and other realities, including shifting pest and disease distributions. Likewise, urbanization and changing consumer preferences demand that rice varieties of tomorrow be healthier and fit with emerging middle class diets and life styles. Rice breeding has a tremendous opportunity to shape new rice varieties by applying the stunning advances in rice genetics and genomics. And, the profound growth of communications technology and big data at plant, field and regional scales are transforming how farmers manage and market their crops.

I believe that we have a unique opportunity to examine how science and technology can inform policy makers about the opportunities that will affect rice production. Likewise, the realities of the rice trade, marketing and consumer demand can help shape the directions of how advances in our basic understanding of the rice plant and its interactions with the environment are ultimately applied to rice improvement and crop management. Knowing how much Jeremy Zwinger and the overall team running the World Rice Conference care about keeping the focus on the future of research, it strikes me on how important of opportunity coming together at this event can really be.

I invite rice researchers from all disciplines to join us for this first ever event that brings together rice research, government policy makers and the rice trade and food industry under one roof.

So, please register and submit an abstract. And, I look forward to seeing you in Manila in November!

Bob Zeigler