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Rice field to relic: Honor for Yuan Longping
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China's most famous "farmer" is expected to receive an unusual gift as the rice field where he developed the hybrid rice is going to be named a national cultural relic site after him.

Yuan Longping [File photo]

Yuan Longping worked in the Anjiang School of Agriculture in Hunan Province to develop the high-yielding strain of rice.

Confirming the news, Shan Jixiang, director of China State Administration of Cultural Heritage(SACH), was quoted by China Daily as saying: "When people talk of cultural relics, they usually relate them to something ancient."

"But since China has undergone rapid changes in the past three decades, any place or institution that helped that transformation can be a cultural relic... And the farm where Yuan grew his hybrid rice is one of the best examples of such a place," China Daily reported.

"Along with the rice field, the school, too, is likely to be listed as a cultural relic site," said Xiao Dong, a researcher with China Academy of Cultural Heritage.

"After the recognition comes through, we plan to transform the school into an international center for hybrid rice agriculture to keep alive its tradition, as well as to pay tribute to Yuan's great contribution."

The "father of hybrid rice" crossed different strains of paddy in the 1960s and 1970s to come up with a variety that increased the yield by up to three times at a time when the country's exploding population was raising fears of food shortage.

(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2009)

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