VARANASI, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA — International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI-SARC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, held its first training on advanced technologies to evaluate specific nutritional properties of food grain and food products.

Researchers from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), IRRI India and IRRI headquarters were trained on NutriScan Artificial Gut Advanced Technology, an instrument that simulates the human gut during digestion. This enables the in-vitro evaluation of nutritionally-important traits like Glycemic Index (GI) and Resistant Starch (RS).

Low GI rice and rice-based products prevent and manage Type II diabetes, a rising global health concern in India and South Asian countries. Resistant Starch (RS) in food is not fully broken down and absorbed during digestion in the small intestine and instead reaches the large intestine where intestinal bacteria turn it into short-chain fatty acids. Higher levels of RS have health benefits like better bowel health, and improved satiation, keeping us lean and healthy.

The two-day training program was held at IRRI SARC’s Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA). This facility offers regional partners and stakeholders with cutting-edge research and development facilities in order to develop technologies and innovations that add value to rice and thereby enhance farmer incomes.

“It is exciting to see CERVA laboratories launch into action in response to the growing interest among rice researchers in the region to enhance the nutritional properties of rice by targeting low glycemic index trait,” said Regina Ahmed, head of IRRI-SARC CERVA. “We would also like to develop rice and rice-based products with high levels of RS that could deliver its health benefits to consumers. IRRI-SARC looks forward to providing more hands-on technical training programs to more regional research institutions.”

The training was facilitated by Joel Sazakar, application specialist engineer from Next Instruments, Australia, and the IRRI team led by Dr. Regina Ahmed.