Yuan Longping’s hybrid Rice still flourishing home & abroad

CHANGSHA: Song Chunfang still remembers his teacher Yuan Longping, known as the “father of hybrid rice,” telling them to speed up the promotion of hybrid rice in Madagascar before their trip to the country in October 2020.
In Song’s memories, the revered rice scientist, who cultivated the first high-yield hybrid rice strain, liked to talk about the basic conditions of planting hybrid rice in different countries whenever he opened a map of the world.
“Yuan was so savvy to every detail, such as the local climate and soil conditions,” recalled Song, director of the industry division of Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center. Yuan Longping, renowned for developing the first hybrid rice strain capable of eliminating hunger for large numbers of people, died of organ failure at 91 on May 22, 2021.
The late agronomist helped China to work a great wonder — feeding nearly one-fifth of the world’s population with less than 9 percent of the world’s total arable land, according to the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center.
In April 1979, Yuan presented his paper to an international academic conference on hybrid rice in Manila, sharing China’s experience in hybrid rice research with the rest of the world, said the center.
Over four decades, research teams working on hybrid rice have been promoting the technology overseas. So far, Yuan’s hybrid rice has been grown in more than 60 countries, with a total growing area of 8 million hectares outside China, according to the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center where Yuan worked.
“We are not the only institute in China that assists foreign countries in planting hybrid rice, and Yuan would call other organizations to learn more about the status of the assistance they were providing,” Song said. Though the team’s plan to visit Madagascar fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hybrid rice flourished in Madagascar last year.
Established in Madagascar in 2019, the African sub-center is the only overseas sub-center of China’s national hybrid rice engineering technology research center, and it is functioning well. Chinese experts in the sub-center set up a service chain including the provision of seeds, relevant training and technical guidance. More than 100 skilled local trainees were given online courses to become hybrid rice experts who can better serve the needs of local farmers.
So far, the sub-center has evaluated and approved three hybrid rice varieties in Madagascar, with two other varieties suitable for growing in most regions of the country expected to gain approval this year. The bright blueprint is not only unfolding in Madagascar, but also in other parts of Africa.
In Nigeria, China is developing the hybrid rice industrial chain and carrying out relevant technical training in cooperation with the local government. Meanwhile, in Angola, the targeted screening of drought-tolerant and regenerative rice varieties is underway. Huang Dahui, former vice head of Longping high-tech international training college, which is accredited by Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, has been to more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America over the past two decades. At his busiest, he visited five countries in one year.
–The Daily Mail-CGTN
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