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Farmers find super hybrid rice lacking in yield, disease resistance

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei, Anhui | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-11 07:58

Poor harvest results of a hybrid rice variety, promoted for its supposed super-yield properties, have prompted farmers to think twice about future seed purchases.

Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture, China's leading hybrid rice seed maker, based in Hunan province, was blamed for last year's drastic decrease in the rice harvest in Anhui province.

The company claimed the rice, Liangyou 0293, could yield more than 13,500 kilograms per hectare, but farmers said they found that level virtually impossible to reach in practice, and product labeling from the company about the variety's resistance to disease was contradictory.

Farmers in Wuhe county said they have been planting the highly touted rice since 2008. Average production at that time stood at around 7,500 kilograms per hectare, only slightly higher than ordinary hybrid rice varieties.

Making matters worse, many farmers got almost nothing from their fields last year because crops were destroyed by rice blast, a disease that kills the plants, according to a report by Southern Weekly. The super rice had been touted as disease-resistant.

"Drastic disease in this variety alone seriously affected the whole province's target to increase local grain production last year", said Liu Gen, deputy head of the province's agricultural seed management bureau.

Agricultural experts assigned by the seed management authority said after investigation that the crop had caught rice blast, which kills the plants, due to such factors as heavy rainfall, insufficient sun and low temperatures last year.

"According to our knowledge, the rice blast occurred not only in our variety but also other rice seed products", Peng Guangjian, chief executive officer of Yuan Longping High-Tech, was quoted as saying.

However, experts believe that other rice varieties were minimally affected by the same natural factors.

The disaster-stricken farmers accuse the company of cheating in its promotion of the super rice.

According to the seeds' packaging, the plant's resistance to rice blast is 5.6 on average. A card inside the packaging had a different number - saying resistance was "Level-9 at most" - meaning virtually no resistance to the disease at all, Southern Weekly reported.

"The agricultural authorities of Anhui are now helping the stricken farmers negotiate with the seed company, as it seems the parties concerned can't reach a consensus on compensation," said Liu, the provincial official.


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