BEIJING: Nearly one fifth of China's rice fields, or about 5.56 million hectares, were under cultivation with high-yield super rice by 2008, a result of the promotion of super rice from 2005, the Ministry of Agriculture said Sunday.
The ministry has approved 69 varieties of new super rice strains, and all have an average output potential of 10.5 tonnes to 12 tonnes per hectare, said Bai Jinming, head of the ministry's science and technology department.
The rice output in China averages 7.1 tonnes per hectare, and the world's average is 3.9 tonnes per hectare.
The Chinese ministry began super rice development in 1996, and the cultivation in 2005.
Among the 61 promotion projects across the country last year, the average output reached about 8.75 tonnes per hectare, with the highest output at 13.55 tonnes per hectare for 6.7-hectare rice fields in Midu County of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
In these promotion rice fields, the ministry is helping farmers breed such super rice with the assistance of various technologies, such as more scientific fertilizing methods and advanced disease- and insect-prevention technologies, to increase output.
The ministry said it is making plans (2011-2015) to develop 30 new super rice strains by 2015 and to have 10 million hectares of rice fields cultivated with such high-yielding strains.
Rice is the staple food for more than 60 percent of China's 1.3 billion population.