[hahs_63-68] Something a bit different
- From: Charlie McColl <chasmac@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: hahs_63-68@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 09:26:45 +1000
Burdekin rice trial reaping rewards DANIEL BATEMAN | May 23rd, 2012FARMERS are hopeful a booming rice industry can rise again in the Burdekin following a successful trial of the crop grown for disaster- affected Japan.
Rice growers from nuclear and tsunami-devastated Fukushima have been carrying out a rice-growing trial at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Ayr research station over the past month.
It is now more than a year since the Japanese farming land was inundated by saltwater and tainted by radiation fallout on March 11.
More than 20,000 rice farmers living in and around Fukushima had their crops destroyed.
As part of efforts to find an alternative location for growing Japan's food staple, the first harvest of Kochi rice in the Burdekin yesterday was expected to yield about 30kg of the crop.
The Kochi variety of rice is most favoured by Japanese consumers. It will be milled at Blue Ribbon's rice-processing plant in Brandon, which is to be officially opened next Friday, before being taken to Japan next month for taste testing.
A flavour measurement machine will see whether it is equal to or better than rice grown in Japan.
Head of the Japanese delegation involved in the rice-growing trial, Iwaki Warld Tambo project director Takemi Shirado, was confident the Burdekin-grown rice would pass with flying colours.
It is hoped more rice seedlings will be grown at the research station over the next nine months.
DAFF regional agribusiness development manager Gareth Jones said the trial looked to be a success.
He said the Burdekin could soon be seeing the return of its rice industry, exporting to several countries.
Rice growing was phased out in the Burdekin in the early 1990s after local mills were bought out by southern interests.
"There is a lot of interest in rice in the Burdekin, not just because of this project but just people wanting to secure supplies of rice globally," Mr Jones said.
"Obviously rice has been grown here before, and it's just a matter of whether we can grow the varieties the market wants."
Blue Ribbon Rice operations manager Steve Rogers said the Burdekin now had the infrastructure to support a local rice industry.
The Brandon plant processes mung beans, soy beans, chickpeas, navy beans, corn and cowpeas.
"There is already great interest from farmers who want to get into crops that are alternatives to sugar cane," Mr Rogers said.