Rice is the staple food for around half of the world's population; three billion people depend on rice for their subsistence, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Most of the world's rice production is consumed in the developing world: Asia, Latin America and Africa.
As the world's population grows there is a rising demand for rice to ensure food security especially in Africa and the Latin American and Caribbean regions. The International Rice Research Institute estimates that an additional 8-10 million tonnes of rice will have to be produced each year. Another way to increase the amount of rice reaching people is to reduce the damage and waste caused by insect infestation, as this EUREKA project did.
Finding marketable solutions
And while the global demand for rice is growing, one of the main challenges is to protect it from pests during storage. "We designed a novel way to manage pests using technologies that are sustainable, environmentally and user-friendly," she says. "We did this to protect the quality of rice avoiding the use of polluting chemicals that leave residues on rice something that has been common so far."
When Carvalho's team tested the integrated system, they found that the amount of rice that had to be thrown away as a result of fungi and insect infestation dropped by more than 95%. Not only did less rice go to waste, but consumers were happier with a product that had not been chemically treated. Rice that has been stored using the integrated system is given the EUREKA stamp of approval: a seal on the product packaging to tell consumers that the product is the outcome of European research. So far four companies are using the technology.
Navarro says that their integrated approach has three key benefits for the European Union m
|Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski|