Super rice yield sets world record
Updated: 2011-09-20 07:26
By Jin Zhu (China Daily)
CHANGSHA - Yuan Longping, China's leading agricultural scientist, realized one of his 80th birthday wishes recently when his super grain brought yields of 13.9 tons of rice a hectare, setting a new world record for rice output.
When he turned 80 last year, Yuan, who is widely known as the "Father of Hybrid Rice", vowed to cultivate a new type of hybrid rice yielding about 13.5 tons a hectare by 2012 and improving to 15 tons a hectare in 2020.
To ensure the accuracy of the yield amount, a team of experts under the Ministry of Agriculture supervised the harvest on Sunday, randomly selecting three of the 7.2-hectare trial field's 18 plots.
The yield exceeded the goal China set itself in 2004 of 13.5 tons a hectare.
Hybrid rice is produced by crossbreeding different varieties of rice. Yuan developed the first Chinese hybrid rice variety in 1974.
His research team reached the target unit yields of 10.5 tons a hectare in 2000 and 12 tons a hectare in 2004, setting world records both times.
"I was delighted as it was very difficult to produce such a high yield of rice in such a large area," Yuan said at a news conference on Monday.
"This year's success showed China is leading the world in super hybrid rice research."
Top-quality seeds, advanced cultivation methods and fertile farmland are needed to increase rice output, he said.
China plants about 29 million hectares of rice every year, with an average output of 6.3 tons a hectare, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
By 2010, super hybrid rice accounted for nearly 25 percent of the total acreage, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture showed.
Farmers in Longhui county, Central China's Hunan province, harvest DH2525 hybrid rice on Sunday. [Photo by Yu Zhiming / Xinhua]
"The increase in rice output will give the country the confidence to maintain its self-sufficiency in grain production, as well as help reduce poverty worldwide," Lu Bu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told China Daily on Monday.
More than 50 percent of the world's population and about 60 percent of Chinese people eat rice.
Meanwhile, more than 900 million people in the world experienced malnutrition and hunger in 2010, up from 800 million in 1995, statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization showed.
"But both in China and other countries, making super hybrid rice planting technologies widespread will take more time due to diverse conditions and a shortage of agricultural professionals," he said.
By 2009, super rice had been planted in India, Vietnam and the United States, among others, and covered 3 million hectares. The average unit yield had steadily increased over several years.
Yuan said he believes the yield could eventually increase to 15 tons a hectare.
"I hope it can be realized by the time I am 90 years old," he said.
Feng Zhiwei and Wang Yanyun contributed to this story.