Changes to White Rice Seed Import Restrictions to Canada

Maturing rice in lowland production system (Photo credit: luckypic, www.shutterstock.com)
Maturing rice in lowland production system (Photo credit: luckypic, http://www.shutterstock.com)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently updated regulations for white rice (Oryza sativa) seed to allow unrestricted import into Canada for the purposes of propagation and production by commercial producers.

CFIA’s Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) has been updated to reflect the changes for rice seed import.

Import permits and documentation are required for importing rice seed and interested growers should refer to the AIRS website or contact their regional CFIA office for more information.

Background:

Prior to 2011 rice seed import was not regulated by the CFIA.  However, in that year import restrictions were imposed on seed for commercial production until a Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) was completed on the crop. A PRA is conducted to minimize and/or prevent the entry of pests associated with a crop from entering Canada under the Plant Protection Act.  The PRA for white rice has been completed and import regulations and requirements have now been updated.

White rice research in Ontario:

Upland (dryland) and lowland (paddy) cultivation have both been explored in Ontario research projects.

  • Essex County 1998 & 1999, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Ducks Unlimited (10 cultivars evaluated in this study, most were japonica sp. which are better known for cold-tolerance).
  • Ridgetown, Ontario 1974
  • Dunnville, Ontario 1967 research completed by the Ontario Research Foundation (ORF).

Results from these studies suggested that (at the time) with the available cultivars, commercial rice production in Ontario may be limited to areas with more than 3150 heat units (i.e. south-central to southwestern Ontario). Additionally, the cost of production, expected yields and the lack of registered pest control products may be barriers to growing the crop in the province on a commercial scale. However, new research has been taking place at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus over the last two field seasons which may provide more information in the future for growers interested in this non-traditional crop for Ontario.

Additional Resources:

 

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