Outstanding contributions of Yuan Longping
That China could basically solve its food problem under the leadership of the CPC has much to do with the high importance attached to fostering agricultural skills and investing in agricultural scientific research. Deng Xiaoping once famously remarked that science and technology are primary productive forces. Increasing the investment in agricultural scientific research is not only an important measure for promoting scientific and technological advances in agriculture, but also the key to improving the grain output.
In the 21st century China entered a period of rapid increase in agricultural investment. The total annual investment in agricultural scientific research institutes nationwide more than doubled — from 2.9 billion yuan in 1991 to 13 billion yuan — in 2005. Meanwhile, the fund allocation of the government for agricultural scientific research increased approximately six times from 1.8 billion yuan in 1991 to 10.8 billion yuan in 2005. Though such an increase is still less than those in other sectors, the investment continues to grow.
In refutation of Brown's prediction, Yuan Longping, one of China's leading agricultural scientists, proclaimed to the world: "China can fully solve its food problem independently. In addition, China can help people all over the world solve the global food problem."
Yuan Longping began research into hybrid rice in 1964, and succeeded in developing the technique of hybrid rice seed production in 1975. In August 1995 Yuan announced breakthroughs in two-line system hybrid rice breeding after nine years' research, and that this technique could be applied over large areas. In August 1998 Yuan started work on super-high-yielding hybrid rice, and was successful in the trial planting of super-high-yielding hybrid rice over small areas. The yield per mu (one mu equals 1/15 of a hectare) was as high as 847 kilograms, opening the way to a large-margin increase in grain output. The fact that the output of hybrid rice shows an increase of 20 percent over that of normal rice makes an important contribution to guaranteeing China's self-sufficiency in grain.
From 1976 to 1999 hybrid rice was promoted on a total of 3.5 billion mu (233 million hectares) bringing about an increase of 350 billion kilograms of rice. In recent years, hybrid rice has been planted in about 230 million mu, and the annual increase in rice output can feed over 60 million people.
A Chinese peasant said, "We have solved the food issue by relying on two persons who have the word "ping" in their names, one is Deng Xiaoping (household contract responsibility system), and the other is Yuan Longping (hybrid rice)."
In his famous book Toward a Well-fed World, Don Paarlberg, an eminent agroeconomist wrote, "Yuan's achievement is a victory over the threat of famine, and he is ushering us into a world with ample food."
Yuan is reputed as the "Father of Hybrid Rice." The strain of rice he developed is called "oriental magic rice," which is not only conducive to solving China's food issue, but also an important contribution to the food security of the world. For his contributions in this field, he has been granted the China National Science and Technology Prize, and honored by France, the US, the World Intellectual Property Organization, UNESCO and the Rank Foundation (Britain).
Yuan Longping once said that his work is focused on answering the question "Who will feed China?" He also said that he had a dream of one day developing shoots of rice which would grow as high as sorghum stalks, and have ears like bunches of grapes.