In 2006, Maria Otilia Carvalho, a researcher from the Tropical Research Institute of Portugal had an ambitious goal: to cut the huge losses of rice a staple food crop for half of humanity due to pests, without using toxic pesticides that are increasingly shunned by consumers worldwide. She realised she could not do it alone and turned to EUREKA to support an international collaboration to address a looming threat to world's rice supplies. Harvested rice is constantly under menace from pest insects and fungi - to avoid the pests, farmers and producers treat the rice with chemical pesticides, which leave residue on rice, potentially harming rice workers and consumers. Even the bigger problem is that insects are developing resistance to chemicals, slowly rendering it useless.
Carvalho was one of several scientists scattered around the world who were working on alternative, eco-friendly methods to protect rice in storage. None of the methods on their own could match the effectiveness of chemicals, but Carvalho thought that pulling them all together into one 'integrated pest management' system might wean the industry of pesticides and provide a safer, cleaner food product for the world's market.
She decided to bring researchers from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Greece, Israel and the USA together to find a sustainable, long term solution for the problem. She was awarded a EUREKA grant in 2006 for a project that involved rice farmers and scientists to find a more eco-friendly way to protect rice and other crops. Five years later, the solution they developed is already being put to use in India, and other developing countries are considering adopting the new system as well.
A Rising demand
"This sort of research takes a long time, sometimes a lifetime," says Shlomo Navarro, a collaborator on the project and an entomologist at Food Technology International Consultancy Ltd., in Israel. "The EUREKA grant offered a tremendous oppo
|Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski|