Product line 4.3. High-quality rice and innovative rice-based food products

Rationale 

Traits of grain quality strongly influence the adoption of new varieties. Examples of traditional varieties that continue to be widely grown, despite efforts to replace them with higher-yielding lines, are Basmati 370, selected in 1920; Domsiah and Khao Dawk Mali 105, selected in 1958; and Koshihikari, selected in 1960. However, current quality evaluation tools cannot distinguish the variety from the breeding line even though consumers can readily do so. A major constraint to combining high yield with desired quality is the absence of appropriate phenotyping tools to evaluate eating quality. Enhancing knowledge on grain quality will enable informed targeting of the products developed in themes 1 and 2. Specialty products that add value to grains by meeting the increasing demand for products that are minimally processed, nutritionally beneficial, or environmentally friendly further illustrate the need for new phenotyping tools for quality. Specialty traits could penalize eating quality; thus, understanding the basis of different eating qualities will ensure that the right traits are combined with specialty traits so that eating quality is maintained, thus facilitating adoption by high-value markets. Our second approach to increasing income, especially for women farmers and processors, is to determine innovative uses of low-value broken grains. Even with the best postharvest management, some grains will always break during milling. Innovative ways to use these in rice-based products will add more value to milled rice. The proportion of broken grains decreases the price of rice, so, providing a market for those will increase the value and quality of the rice. Specialty traits and innovative rice products that increase the nutritional and commercial value of the crop will be prioritized on the basis of consumer studies (theme 5). 

Activities

A phenotyping platform will be developed for eating quality and specialty traits. Structures and compounds in the grain will be analyzed for development of the platform. Trait-relevant phenotyping data will be associated with genetic maps of existing populations to identify the genes underlying the traits in collaboration with theme 1. Specialty traits such as slow digestibility, high dietary fiber, longer shelf-life, and faster cooking will be prioritized in collaboration with the INQR and theme 5. Grain quality specialists will contribute to regional interdisciplinary task forces in collaboration with theme 2 for the development of varieties for specific end-users, including high-value specialty markets. Broken and chalky grains that fetch a low value in the market will be ground into flour and different applications for the flour developed that include weaning foods, high-energy biscuits for malnourished children, and extruded and bakery products. Women food processors will be trained in making and marketing these products. 

Products

  4.3.1 A phenotyping platform and tools for evaluating quality and specialty traits of grains and rice products
  4.3.2 Specialty rice with good eating quality for high-value markets
  4.3.3 Processing techniques that add value to low-grade rice
  4.3.4 Market analysis and information for developing and targeting specialty rice and rice products

Partnerships

4.3.1: This work is being carried out by IRRI and a number of research partners for defining sensory products, and identifying structures and metabolites in the grain. Samples of rice differing in eating quality are provided by members of the International Network for Quality Rice (INQR). As new phenotyping methods are developed, they are tested by members of the INQR, and disseminated by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the members of the INQR. Genotyping methods, high-throughput methods, and germplasm panels of allelic series of fragrance and chalk genes will be developed at IRRI and delivered to local adapters and disseminators in the INQR. New QTLs/markers for grain quality traits will be developed together with the breeding programs in theme 2.

4.3.2: A number of specialty traits have been prioritized in consultation with members of the INQR. Germplasm and mutants carrying these traits will be developed at IRRI in collaboration with one research partner. Once germplasm and markers are developed, they will be delivered to the members of the INQR to adapt and disseminate them. Specific specialty rice and rice products will be developed in collaboration with food producers.

4.3.3: This work was initiated by AfricaRice in collaboration with the CSIR-Food Research Institute in Ghana. Trials were conducted based on the preferences of consumers in Ghana and a draft recipe book was produced. The recipe book will be updated and the number of products and processing methods, such as parboiling, increased for Ghana and subsequently out-scaled to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa through the rice postharvest, processing, and marketing task force in Africa.

4.3.4: Market analysis and information about demand for specialty rice and rice products will be conducted by partners that include public and private research organizations, consumer advocacy groups, public health organizations, and industry associations, as well as rice value-chain actors. Product development partners will include public- and private-sector researchers, food producers, and rice growers. Other dissemination partners will include links to members of the INQR, rice consumers, wholesale and retail networks, and nutritional service providers. 

Uptake and impact pathway

Phenotyping tools developed in this theme for evaluating quality, specialty, and processing traits will be used in themes 1, 2, and 4, as well as for public- and private-sector breeding efforts, so as to enable the development of high-value varieties. Market analysis will also feed into the same users to help direct varietal development efforts. The products will be locally adapted specialty rice, from which farmers can derive a premium. For value-adding processing techniques, the next users are millers, processors, and marketers, and the final users are consumers. Evidence from the uptake of other specialty cereals, and products from them, indicates that these products will be popular in the global market. 

Financing strategy

Initial funds are available for developing new phenotyping tools for current and new traits of quality until 2014 from ACIAR and the Japan Rice Breeding project, but not for specialty traits. Developing specialty rice and processing methods is a new area of work and additional funding of $3 million is needed to finance this product line from 2010 until 2013. In Africa, support is anticipated from CIDA for products 4.3.3 and 4.3.4.

Box 14. Impact example for product 4.3.3: Developing and scaling-up improved parboiling technology

Parboiling is an important step in rice processing, potentially enhancing the quality of milled rice in physical appearance and nutritional quality. Since 2005, AfricaRice has worked to develop prototypes of improved energy-efficient parboilers and strategies to scale-up good practices related to parboiling, especially aimed at women processors. The parboiling project started with a diagnostic study during which feedback was collected from women rice processors on a parboiler prototype introduced in Benin by INRAB. Through a participatory technology development process and in collaboration with Sasakawa Global 2000, INRAB, and local artisans, an improved parboiler was developed. A video was produced on good parboiling practices. Local artisans were also trained in the fabrication of the improved parboiler to enable women processors to have easy access. The video was used by NGOs and extension services to train women in 80 villages in Benin.

        Through a partnership with the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Abomey-Calavi, the determinants of the adoption of improved parboilers by rice processors were identified. To enable large-scale diffusion of good parboiling practices, the video was translated into more than 30 languages and it reached almost 160,000 farmers by 2010. Impact studies showed that the improved technology enhanced the income and food security of women processors and helped to sustain the environment. The video stimulated experimentation and collective action among rice processors.