In Australian Government reporting on progress towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), Australia’s 15 RDCs are highlighted as important stakeholders that conduct research to improve the profitability, productivity, competitiveness and long-term sustainability of rural industries.
The long-term sustainability of the Australian rice industry is underpinned by research funded by AgriFutures Australia. SunRice, one of the largest rice food companies in the world and one of Australia’s leading branded food exporters, is focused on the role it can play in making a meaningful contribution to the UN SDGs. In its sustainability reporting, SunRice identifies two priority issues where it can make a significant, industry-wide impact.
The first is water efficiency. Australian rice growers are the most water-efficient in the world, using 50 per cent less water than the global average while achieving some of the highest yields worldwide. SunRice continues to improve the water efficiency of its operations, and achieved an average water efficiency of 0.88 tonnes per megalitre in the 2020 Riverina rice season. The Australian rice industry has a bold plan to achieve rice production of 1.5 paddy tonnes per megalitre by 2030. This is an ambitious and transformative goal, and SunRice has a critical role to play in supporting its achievement and will organise its research and extension efforts towards this target.
The second area is climate resilience and SunRice is working towards zero emissions from its controlled operations and partnering with growers to create a step change in reducing emissions. In FY2021, it generated approximately 30,000 GJ of renewable energy from rice hulls for drying rice in its Vietnam mills, and completed baseline projects for energy, waste and water.