About 65 percent of Chinese depend on rice as a staple food. Yuan Longping, renowned Chinese developer of hybrid rice, has set a new world record. A hybrid rice project headed by Yuan has achieved an annual yield of 1,537.78 kilograms of rice per mu (about 0.07 hectares) of farmland, authorities announced Saturday in Xingning City in south China’s Guangdong Province. The amount of the double-cropping rice is equal to that produced over three seasons in the past, marking a big breakthrough, said Luo Xiwen, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. “This is the fifth generation of hybrid rice technology,” Yuan told Xinhua. “The quality of the rice is as good as Japan’s renowned Koshihikari rice.” The project was launched in 2015.
Known as China’s “father of hybrid rice,” Yuan began theoretical research about 50 years ago and continued to set new records in the average yields of hybrid rice plots. Born into a poor farmer’s family in 1931 and a graduate from the Southwest Agriculture Institute in 1953, Yuan began his teaching career at an agriculture school in Anjiang, Hunan Province. He came up with an idea for hybridizing rice in the 1960s, when a series of natural disasters and inappropriate policies had plunged China into an unprecedented famine that caused many deaths. Since then, he has devoted himself to the research and development of a better rice breed. China’s Ministry of Agriculture officially launched a hybrid rice breeding program in 1996. Four years later, a first-phase target of 10.5 tonnes per hectare was achieved by Yuan’s research team. The fourth-phase target of 15.4 tonnes per hectare was reached in 2014.