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Portrait of Rice

Doctoral student Mark Lundy is helping rice farmers grow more with less thanks to a “Golden” opportunity.

Lundy, who studies International Agricultural Development and Horticulture and Agronomy, has seen first hand how rural farmers in developing countries depend on rice to feed families, earn a living and stave off poverty. With the help of the William G. Golden, Jr. and Kathleen H. Golden International Agriculture Fellowship, Lundy is researching ways to increase rice production while reducing herbicide use.

“There are practical reasons for not using pesticides, such as the economic benefit to farmers,” Lundy said. “And environmental reasons, including the fact that overuse of pesticides can contribute to water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity.”

Rice, a grain that is a dietary staple for more than half of the world’s human population, is often grown in sub-optimal conditions around the world, which can drastically impact the success of crop yields. For that reason, “a little bit of improvement goes a long way,” Lundy said. “Knowing how to improve the productivity of rice puts you in position to help farmers and the poor in any area of the world.”

The Golden fellowship honors Bill Golden, ’50, M.S. ’57, who dedicated his life to improving life for the less fortunate, training better agriculturalists and increasing food production in developing nations, particularly Southeast Asia. After Bill’s death in 1978 from a plane accident, his wife, Kay, and friends established a $114,000 endowment at UC Davis to support graduate students in rice production technology whose work both contributes to knowledge of rice growing and improves the lives of farmers. Since then, the endowment has supported 44 students and grown to more than $900,000.

“There is a lot of work to be done in this world,” Kay Golden said, “and I hope to support students who have a mission.”