A city with a heart for rice

 Flaminia Lilli   |  

Singapore is well known for its food culture, which contains a fusion of cuisines from all over the world.

The bustling city-state prides itself on having highly regarded culinary events every year that attract top local and international chefs. These events are very popular among Singaporeans, who are always interested in learning new recipes and participating in cooking workshops.

In November 2012, the IRRI Fund Singapore participated in Asian Masters, a major annual culinary event in which celebrity chefs share their savoir-faire with the public in hotels, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques.

IRRI Fund Singapore partnered with Lam Soon and joined the Masterchef Workshop held at Great World City, where a demo cooking and tasting workshop using Lam Soon’s Naturel Organic Brown Rice attracted quite a large audience.

This is part of the role of IRRI Fund Singapore: to hold public awareness events on the importance of rice and rice research as well as to attract potential donors. All the money raised by the IRRI Fund goes to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to support its work with hundreds of research and development partners across Asia.

The Asian Masters was a perfect avenue to further share IRRI’s work with Singapore’s public and realize that rice is always a staple close to the heart of any Asian country.

Investing its future in rice
Today’s youth are the producers of tomorrow’s food. Thus, making them interested in and appreciative of how rice is produced can never be overemphasized.

Students and teachers had a chance to grow rice through Singapore’s first-ever Rice Growing Competition launched in June 2012.

IRRI Fund Singapore organized this contest with Science Centre Singapore in conjunction with the 2012 World Food Day. With its theme, “Agricultural Cooperatives—key to feeding the world,” the competition sought to equip teachers with content knowledge in life sciences, particularly rice biology and geography, as well as with the skills needed to initiate rice growing as a project in their schools.

Fifteen teachers from 10 schools were given rice seeds supplied by IRRI for them to grow. The amount of rice grains harvested was a key judging criterion of the competition. Other criteria were a 5-minute presentation on the process of cultivating rice crops in school and a creative task involving rice.

The participants presented their projects for final judging on 5 November. The winners of the competition were Dr. Goh Yan Yih’s team from the Anglo Chinese School and Ms. Angelene Tan’s team from Dunman Secondary School for their acumen in growing rice and doing creative Rangoli artwork.

“Singapore is a cosmopolitan city and some of us have never seen a rice field, let alone experience growing a rice plant,” shared Lim Tit Meng, chief executive, Science Centre Singapore. “Through this competition, Science Centre wishes to cultivate local appreciation for the rice we eat every day and build awareness of issues related to food security, including an escalating world population.”

Each team displayed much enthusiasm and creativity in growing rice. Students from the Anglo Chinese School, led by their teacher, Dr. Goh Yan Yih, grew rice with hydroponic and aeroponic systems, whereas the team from Dunman Secondary School used styrofoam boxes. Eventually, both schools were rewarded with a science study trip to IRRI to be held in 2013.

“We are excited to host the winners of this first rice competition,” said Leo Chen Ian, executive director of IRRI Fund Singapore. “Folks from Singapore will get the first-hand experience in growing rice and learn about rice ecosystems, at the oldest rice research institute in Asia. This brings an appreciation of rice to a whole new level.”

Ms. Lilli is the partnership development manager at IRRI Fund Singapore.

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