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'Father of hybrid rice' passes away at 91 | Updated: 2021-05-22 12:39
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Related: Worldwide mourning

- World Food Prize Foundation remembers Yuan Longping (Read more)

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Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, renowned for developing the first hybrid rice strain that pulled countless people out of hunger, died of illness at 91 on Saturday.

The top rice scientist in China passed away in a hospital in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, at about 1 pm, according to the hospital and other sources.

Family members hummed songs to Yuan in his final hours, reporters at the site said.

As the vehicle carrying Yuan's body drove to the mortuary, people gathered along the road to say goodbye to him.

On China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, the news has been viewed 950 million times so far, with netizens from all walks of life expressing grief at the death of a great man.

"Three times a day, when we enjoy the fragrance of rice, you will be dearly remembered," said a comment that has been liked more than 600,000 times.

"Deeply saddened by the death of Prof Yuan Longping, my dear Master. He devoted his life to the research of hybrid rice, helping billions achieve food security. You were my Inspiration. May you rest in peace," said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu in a tweet.

Having spent over five decades in hybrid rice research, the academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering has helped China work a great wonder -- feeding nearly one-fifth of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's total land.

Yuan once said he had two dreams -- to "enjoy the cool under the rice crops taller than men" and that hybrid rice could be grown all over the world to help solve the global food scarcity.

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