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Hybrid rice seeds yielding hope

By Ma Zhiping in Sanya | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-15 09:55
Yuan Longping, 89, China's "father of hybrid rice",attends the third Sanya International Rice Forum. [Photo by Ma Zhiping/chinadaily.com.cn]

Hybrid rice was first introduced overseas to the United States in 1979. The crop is now grown in more than 30 countries and regions, with the total acreage surpassing 7 million hectares, according to reports from the international rice forum.

Tu Shengbin, an expert on hybrid rice with the Chengdu Biology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, still remembers the hardships of the early days after arriving in Lumbini in southern Nepal - electricity shortages and the terror caused by black leeches covering his shirt, pants and socks during field instruction and training.

"The local farmers turned a blind eye to us when we first arrived in Nepal in 2001. But Chinese experts and technicians are now the most respectable guests among local people, since growing hybrid rice has helped improve their lives remarkably," said Tu. The local rice yield was only between 2.5 and 3.5 metric tons per hectare, but the new rice varieties pushed the output to 7.2 tons per hectare by 2014, he added.

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