Our Heritage

The first record of rice cultivation in south eastern Australia was in 1906, when the Victorian Government allocated 200 acres (81 hectares) of land on the Murray River at Swan Hill to former Japanese parliamentarian, Isaburo ‘Jo’ Takasuka.

 
 
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Authentic Japanese Heritage

Jō Takasuka, accompanied by his wife, Ichi, arrived in Melbourne in 1905 from Japan.

Within 18 months, Takasuka had moved to Nyah, Victoria, sowed 35 acres (14ha) of Japanese rice grain on land rented from a local farmer, and entered into negotiations with the Victorian government to acquire a suitable allotment of crown land subject to annual flooding on which to cultivate rice.

Takasuka persevered through floods and droughts to finally produce rice for commercial sale. His first success was in 1911 when test-plots on his property were harvested. Using these seeds, he grew rice successfully on small parcels of rented land for the next three seasons.

In 1914, the Victorian government allocated 200 acres (81ha) of flood-prone land on the Murray River near Swan Hill to Takasuka for the purpose of demonstrating the cultivation of rice from Japan. He sold the first successful crop of seed back to the government and inspired the formation of the Australian rice industry.

To see how Australian short grain rice is grown today, watch our "paddy-to-plate" video series.

 

1800s

  • 1850

    Likely introduction of rice seed into Australian goldfields by Chinese prospectors.

  • 1891

    NSW Department of Agriculture begins trials of "upland" rice varieties in northern NSW.

  • 1906

    Japanese ex-parliamentarian, Isaburo (Jō) Takasuka, begins rice cultivation near Swan Hill, Victoria, using Japanese (Japonica) varieties.

  • 1914

    Jo Takasuka grows the first commercial rice crop in south eastern Australia.

  • 1924

    "Japonica" seed varieties are offered to farmers, establishing large volume exports of Australian rice to Japan.

  • 1928

    The Rice Marketing Board for NSW commences operations. Its role is to receive and store paddy, negotiate with millers on price.

  • 1932-34

    Rice mills are built at Murrami, Yenda and Griffith, NSW.

  • 1950

    The central executive of the Ricegrowers Association forms a new co-operative - Rice Growers Co-operative Mills Limited.

  • 1955

    The Co-operative launches its own branded retail pack of "Sunwhite Rice."

  • 1968

    The Co-operative builds a rice mill at Coleambally, NSW.

  • 1970

    The Co-operative builds a rice mill at Deniliquin – the largest milling complex in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • 1985

    Rice Growers Co-operative Mills Limited and the Rice Marketing Board for NSW undergo a functional merger to become Ricegrowers’ Co-operative Limited.

  • 1986

    The company begins a program of diversification towards value added products including rice cakes, rice bran and horticultural products.

  • 1990

    New SunRice “Sculptures” advertising campaign wins major Australian and international advertising awards, increasing domestic rice consumption by 17%.

  • 1994

    Second mill opens in Deniliquin for brown rice only, later upgraded to a brown and white rice mill.

  • 1995-97

    "SunRice" a joint venture company between Rice Growers Co-operative limited and a Japanese rice milling company successfully launch a new specialty rice variety developed at Yanco for the Japanese rice market – Koshihikari.

  • 2000s

    A decade of debilitating drought sees SunRice diversifying its business portfolio and global sourcing program to ensure continued growth and prosperity of the business, including rice flour, snacks, microwave rice and ready-to-go meals.

  • 2014

    Purchases Blue Ribbon Rice Group’s North Queensland mill and related assets at Brandon

 

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