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A rice future for Asia

Whether it's rice farming or rice research, very few of Asia's best and brightest young people are interested in a career in an industry that has been a foundation of the Asian way of life for generations. Few rice farmers want their children to be rice farmers, and even fewer young Asians are choosing careers in rice science, despite its vital importance to the region.

However, an innovative project being launched this week in Thailand and the Philippines marks the start of a major new effort to encourage young Asians to consider a future in rice.

"It's a sad fact of life in modern Asia that many young people in the region don't think of rice as offering an exciting or promising career, so they focus on other industries and other careers," says Robert S. Zeigler, director general of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI, together with the Thai Rice Foundation under Royal Patronage (TRF) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), is hosting ten Thai teenagers and nine young Filipinos for a week of activities designed to boost their interest in rice and science.

Dr. Zeigler says it's vital for Asia's future development that the rice industry attract the region's best and brightest young people. "Rice and agriculture are still fundamental to the economic development of most Asian nations, not to mention their cultural and social identities," he added.

Working together with the TRF and PhilRice, IRRI is hosting a five-day rice camp (24-28 April 2006) at its headquarters in Los Baños for the Thai and Filipino students who are aged 16?8. During the five days, the students ?all of whom have been selected because of their interest in, or knowledge of, rice ?will learn the very latest scientific techniques in rice research and, more specifically, be convinced of how rice research can provide a brighter future for rice in the region.

"We want them to understand that rice research is not some
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Source:International Rice Research Institute


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