Yuan Longping gets Mahathir Science Award

Updated: 2012-02-01 00:45


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KUALA LUMPUR -- China's leading agricultural scientist Yuan Longping was presented the 2011 Mahathir Science Award on Tuesday for his contribution in developing hybrid rice, which has lifted millions of people from starvation.

The award was presented by Malaysian former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whom the award was named after. While promoting scientific research for tropical areas in his speech, Mahathir also said he's looking forward to access the result of Yuan's future research.

If research institutions in China and Malaysia cooperate with each other, both countries as well as the rest of the world can benefit, Mahathir said.

Set up by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia in 2004, the award bestowed on scientists, institution or organizations worldwide in recognition of contributions and innovations towards solving problems in Tropical Medicine, Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering as well as Tropical Natural resources.

Yuan was awarded "in recognition of his courage in independent thinking out of the norm in rice breeding resulting in the innovative development of hybrid rice, a staple food of the tropics, that has revolutionized global rice production and sustainability," the Mahathir Science Award Foundation said in a statement.

Yuan Longping, known as the "father of hybrid rice," started developing hybrid rice in the 1960s. Thanks to the achievement of Yuan and other researchers, China's total rice output has increased tremendously. Yuan has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the 2004 World Food Prize and the 2004 Wolf Prize in agriculture.

At the age of 81, Yuan is still working on China's hybrid rice breed, which is known as super rice, and his team achieved the target unit yield of 900 kg per mu (0.067 hectare) ahead of schedule last September.

Yuan told Xinhua that he believed the yield of hybrid rice could eventually increase further to 1,000 kg per mu, a target he hopes to achieve before his nineties.

He said in his award acceptance speech that he will continue to do his best to promote the development of hybrid rice in and outside China, especially in the developing world.

Malaysia has been experimenting Yuan's hybrid rice since 2004.

Abdul Aziz Sheikh Abdul Kadir, a senior member of Academy of Sciences Malaysia, said he hopes the award will serve as a milestone for further cooperation between China and Malaysia in the field.