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New hybrid rice breed sets auction record of US$1.73m
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Liangyou 1128, a new breed of super middle rice, was auctioned for 11.8 million yuan (US$1.73 million) on September 15 at a trade fair in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, setting a record for hybrid rice auction prices, according to a report from the Changsha Evening News on September 16.

More than 50 Seed Operation and Production companies lodged spot bids for 23 of over 200 new hybrid rice breeds, with total sales proceeds reaching 30 million yuan (US$4.39 million).

According to the report, this is the first time that hybrid rice breeds have been sold at auction in China or elsewhere in the world.

Purchasers are usually primarily concerned with seeds winning approval from relevant Crop Variety Assessment Committees. However, the most popular seeds at this trade fair are all still awaiting for approval. The deals were more like futures transactions as they will become effective only after approval.

Among the 23 new breeds under the hammer, four were early rice, another four were late rice, and 15 others were middle rice.

The bidding for Liangyou 1128 was most intense, going through eight stages and finally selling at 11.8 million yuan (US$1.73 million). Liangyou 1128 has won the reputation of the highest-yielding seed of the year – planted in large areas in Hunan Province, its theoretical output reaching 1134.9 kg per mu (just over 17 tonnes per hectare) in Longhui County.

Academician Yuan Longping, "Father of Hybrid Rice", attended the trade fair and expressed his enthusiasm for hybrid rice seed industrialization and commercialization. He explained that around 240 million mu (16 million hectares) of hybrid race is planted every year, accounting for 50 percent of total rice planting areas and increasing crop yields for 70 million people.

However, good seeds still require acceptance by the market. The auction was a successful pilot – seed-breeding experts would now focus their research, breeding, and commercialization not only on science but also on market demand.

(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing, September 16, 2008)

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