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China Has Great Potential to Increase Rice Output

Yuan Longping, dubbed as the " father of hybrid rice," said that China has great potential to increase its rice output thanks to scientific progress.

"China can rely on its own force to solve the issue of feeding its growing population," said Yuan at a recent symposium in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.

China now has a population of 1.26 billion, and its per capita arable land is about 0.093 hectares. By 2030, China's population is expected to grow to 1.6 billion and its the per capita arable land will reduce to less than 0.067 hectares.

Some American economists therefore came to the conclusion that China will not be able to be self-reliant in terms of grain supply and will need a lot of imports, which will start off global grain shortage and drive up grain prices.

"They underestimated the role of great potential of scientific progress in raising productivity," said Yuan.

According to Yuan, they have been working on a new rice propagation skill concentrating on cross breeding rice subspecies. Selected farmland experiments show that the output of rice grown with the technology is 20 percent higher that of normally grown hybrid rice.

Earlier, China had been successful with the researches of short-stalked rice breeding technology and rice cross breeding or hybrid rice, which had helped greatly increase the rice output per unit.

Thanks to scientific progress, China's total rice output rose from 56.87 million tons in 1950 to 194.7 million tons last year. The growth rate of rice output far exceeded the population growth speed.

Main factors behind the increase in rice output include enlarged irrigation areas, use of more manure, improved planting skills and the use of improved varieties of crops. One-third of the increased rice output is realized via application of improved varieties of crops.

Yuan predicted another breakthrough in rice breeding skill in the early years of the next century by combining normal crop propagation techniques and molecule propagation technology. He added that Chinese agrotechnicians have been cooperating with researchers from Cornell University of the United States in this regard.

(Xinhua 12/02/2000)

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