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Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 22:03

Chinese scholar says hybrid crops can solve famine


Chinese scholar says hybrid crops can solve famine
This August 19, 2013 photo shows Chinese scientist Yuan Longping working with paddy. (Lu Boan / Xinhua)

HONG KONG – Hybrid-crop breeding is so far "the most effective method" to solve food shortages worldwide, Chinese agriculturalist Yuan Longping said at a public lecture in Hong Kong.

Yuan, dubbed the “Father of the Hybrid Rice”, shared his experience in developing the high-yield hybrid rice and technological findings after receiving the inaugural Lui Che Woo Prize. The prize was created by local entrepreneur and philanthropist Lui Che-woo to honor those who contribute to world civilization.

Yuan was awarded for bringing about sustainable and stable food supply to China and other countries.

Yuan revealed he will use the HK$20 million award to further advance his research.

With the world facing severe famine risks at the moment, and with decreasing agricultural land area across the globe and rapid growth in human population, Yuan said: “Hybrid rice will play a key role in securing food for the world this century.”

Rice is the staple food for nearly half of the world's 7 billion people. Greater yields in rice crops would therefore be a significant solution to the food shortage.

He projected that 60 percent more rice has to be produced in 2030 than in 1995. By planting hybrid rice, China can annually feed 70 million more people, Yuan said.

Yuan has trained more than 4,000 scientists and researchers from about 80 developing countries around the world, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Liberia, according to reports.

Now nearly 57 percent of rice fields in China grow hybrid rice species, according to official documents.

In 1964 Yuan created his theory of using existing naturally mutated male-sterile rice individuals for the creation of reproductive hybrid rice species, and in two years he managed to find a few examples of such male-sterile rice.

In 1973 he managed to establish a complete process of creating and reproducing high-yield hybrid rice species, which yielded over 30 percent more per unit than common ones, putting China in the lead worldwide in rice production.

Four asteroids and a college in China have been named after Yuan. He won the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award of China in 2000, and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture as well as the World Food Prize in 2004.

He is currently the director-general of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center and was appointed as a professor at Hunan Agricultural University. He is also a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

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