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Agricultural Technology Extension System Needs a Boost
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China's current agricultural technology extension system should be restructured and companies working in this particular field required to shoulder more responsibility for the building of a new socialist countryside, Huang Peijin told during the ongoing Fourth Plenary Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), which began on March 5 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Huang is a deputy to NPC from central China's Hunan Province.

In order to solve the inherent problems of rural areas and agriculture systematically, the central government has recently brought forward the strategy of building a new socialist countryside. Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report on Sunday that the country "will increase it's ability to put scientific and technological advances to practical use and step up efforts to disseminate agricultural technology and improve agriculture-related technical services."

Huang is a prominent agronomist specializing in the production of hybrid rice seed and chairman of the Board of the Grand Agriseeds Company. He has given attention to the practice and the extension of high technology in agricultural development.

"The primary requirement of building a new socialist countryside is to improve agricultural production," he said. "And a major measure to ensure food security and increase the income of farmers is to use high-tech to develop modern agriculture."

Huang takes the example of hybrid rice -- China owns the independent intellectual property rights of the hybrid and leads the world in this field. "If we want to ensure our grain supply, the most economic and effective method is to improve the yield."

As early as 2000, Yuan Longping, the 'father' of hybrid rice, had successfully bred a super hybrid variety. Huang is Yuan's student and also the gold medal winner of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for his seed production method of super hybrid rice. However, up until now the acreage of super hybrid rice is only around one-tenth of the country's total rice planted area.

Nowadays, the grass-roots of agricultural technology extension, which used to be wholly financed by government, is in the hands of companies keen to make technologic advances and open up new markets.

Huang's company cooperated with a township agricultural technology extension station in Hunan's Shaoyang City last April to provide rice seeds and related technical services through a contract.

Good results were generated, he said. The yield of common hybrid rice per mu (about 0.067 hectare) is 500 to 600 kilograms but that of super hybrid rice averages 700 kilograms. As a result, a farmer can get 150 yuan (US$18.7) more per mu -- encouraging news for farmers.

Meanwhile, Huang, together with other NPC deputies, will propose a bill in the NPC session, requesting legislation on an agricultural cooperative organization in order to develop an intensive growth model.

( by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 8, 2006)

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