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Hybrid rice seeds yielding hope

By Ma Zhiping in Sanya | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-15 09:55
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Chen Jie, a researcher of hybrid rice from Sichuan Mianyang Academy of Agricultural Sciences and chief agrinomist for the China-Uganda Agricultural Cooperation Industrial Park, Lubenge, Luwero district, Uganda, shows farmers how to tell the growth conditions of rice roots at the park. [Photo by Hero Hamuza for China Daily]

A farmer named Delima, who has grown hybrid rice in the southern Philippines for more than 10 years, said, "Seeing per hectare yield being increased from 8 tons to 11 tons, more of my villagers have been convinced of the 'magic technology' of Chinese scientists and turned to growing hybrid rice."

Tu, the hybrid rice expert at the Chengdu Biology Research Institute, said, "We give the local people 'fish' and teach them how to 'fish' as well."

Tu travels more than 100 days each year, staying for research in Sanya for part of each winter and moving between countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations the rest of the time. He said more than 2,000 Chinese rice scientists from around the country, especially those from Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, are likewise devoting themselves to promoting hybrid rice among overseas farmers - showing them how to grow hybrid rice, how to produce hybrid seeds and how to process the grains.

Hainan's tropical climate and rich biological resources have made it an important national center for seed propagation. Each winter, more than 7,000 domestic agricultural scientists and workers are busy at the off-season breeding centers. Statistics from the Hainan provincial off-season breeding administration show that 19,950 crop varieties, or about 70 percent of the country's new crop varieties, have been cultivated in the past 70 years in the tropical island province, which is building a global animal and plant resources center as part of its free trade zone development plan.

Wang Sheng, an official with the Hainan provincial government, said arrangements have also been made to invite experts and students from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to China. Since 2015, more than 2,000 foreign experts and students from BRI countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia have visited Hainan to study agricultural technology, including off-season breeding programs.

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