Professor Kaye Basford from The University of Queensland
Professor Kaye Basford from The University of Queensland
23 April 2013

The way we grow rice could help combat worldwide food shortages, says Australia’s new board member on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Professor Kaye Basford from The University of Queensland has been appointed to the IRRI Board of Trustees, joining 14 other members from 11 countries around the world including Germany, Japan, USA, Philippines, China and India.

She is the only Australian on the board.

Professor Basford said she was honoured by the appointment and would draw on her own research at the interface between quantitative genetics and biometry (applying statistical analysis to biological data) as it has led to major benefits in plant improvement programs.

“With new sustainable rice farming techniques, we can work with public and private sector to help improve the yield and quality of their rice in an environmentally sustainable way, and help governments formulate policy to improve the equitable supply of rice,” said Professor Basford.

“Our mission is to become a global leader in rice germplasm development, future production systems and education to alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition and make rice production more sustainable.”

“I am looking forward to learning more about the research programs that are being undertaking at IRRI, and contributing to setting policies and strategies to reach our goals,” she said.

Professor Basford succeeds Professor Beth Woods, DDG of Queensland Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu offered his warm congratulations to Professor Basford on her appointment to such a significant international research organisation.

“This reflects Kaye’s international standing as a leading academic and researcher in biostatistics and agriculture,” he said.

“Her appointment to director of the board of distinguished academic and government leaders in the field further enhances UQ’s already high international reputation in agriculture and food sciences, as evidenced by our international rankings.”

Throughout her career, she has attracted competitive research funds from government and industry bodies, and is the leader of the Queensland Node of the high-profile Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG).

In 1998, Professor Basford was awarded the highest possible accolade from the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology – the Australian Medal for Agriculture.

She was also awarded a Fellowship with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering for having developed statistical methods that are used world-wide to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of crop breeding programs.

As well as working as a professor at UQ, Professor Basford is the President of the UQ Academic Board and was Head of the School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, one of the schools that merged to form the School of Agriculture and Food Science. Professor Basford is also immediate Past President of the International Biometric Society.

To find out more about IRRI, please visit

Fast facts about rice

• Rice is the staple food for more than 3 billion people who eat it everyday
• Asia, where about 90 percent of rice is grown, has more than 200 million rice farms, most of which are smaller than 1 hectare.
• IRRI estimates that an additional 8-10 million tons of rice needs to be produced every year.

Media: Carolyn Varley, UQ Communications, 07 3365 1120 or