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The importance of the rice crop for global food security cannot be overstated

it is consumed daily by around half of the world’s population for whom it is an essential source of calories. Most of these consumers reside in Asia where population is increasing and availability of land for rice production is diminishing. There is a clear need to improve yield per hectare  dramatically on existing land and to improve responses to challenges posed by the changing climate, for example the increasing severity and unpredictability of stressful events such as drought flooding and heatwaves (IPCC, 2007).