Hybrid rice aids global food security

CHINA DAILY, October 16, 2023
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A farmer walks with harvested spikes of rice in the paddy field on April 26. GU PENGBO/ZHOU YUEGUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

China's self-developed hybrid rice has not only fed around 80 million Chinese people, but also 40 to 50 million more people abroad, according to a seminar held in Hunan province on Wednesday.

The seminar was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the successful research of the hybrid rice strain conducted by a team led by Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, known as the "father of hybrid rice".

Bai Lianyang, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an official from the Hunan Provincial Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the hybrid rice has been planted in an accumulative area of 600 million hectares across the country, leading to an increased rice yield of more than 800 million metric tons.

The average yield of the super hybrid rice has also increased steadily from 10.5 metric tons per hectare to 16.5 tons from 2000 to 2017, he said.

More than 17 million hectares of hybrid rice are planted in China each year, helping boost rice output by about 2.5 million tons and feed 80 million more people in the country annually, Bai added.

Hybrid rice technology has also been introduced to dozens of countries around the world, and played an active role in promoting world food security, he said.

With annual cultivated area of hybrid rice overseas reaching nearly 8 million hectares in total, the rice has fed an additional 40 to 50 million more people abroad, he said.

Shen Xiaoming, Party secretary of Hunan province, said the international cooperation around hybrid rice will be deepened and an international communication platform will be built to explore a more open and effective cooperation model.

More countries and regions will gain knowledge about hybrid rice, and plant it, so the rice can bring more benefits to the world, he said.

Different sectors should pull together to achieve breakthroughs in cutting-edge technology around hybrid rice, so that new strains of strategic importance will be cultivated, he said.

Mao Weiming, governor of Hunan province, said hybrid rice has helped China to feed one-fifth of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the globe's arable land. It has also been promoted to five continents and offered Chinese solution to increase grain production globally and solve food shortage in developing countries.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China's grain output has remained above 650 million tons for eight consecutive years, thanks to its strong emphasis on food security.

China's central authorities have repeatedly stressed that "Chinese people should hold our rice bowls firmly in our own hands".