A new strain of hybrid sticky rice bred after using nuclear radiation and bio-engineering technology has reached crop yields of 10,500 kg rice per hectare.
"If the new strain was seeded on 50 percent of China's existing sticky rice paddy fields, they would add output by more than 1 billion kg a year," said professor Yang Rencui, director of the Crop Heredity Breeding Institute of the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
Sticky rice is the raw stuff of many traditional Chinese dishes, such as glutinous rice dumplings, a festival food made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, which is brought on dinner tables in May on China's lunar calendar.
Yang said it has taken the institute eight years to develop the new strain. The market demand for sticky rice is rising every year and the plantation area is expanding.
China has 1.3 million ha. of fields growing sticky rice. Over the past few years, the institute's new strain has replaced 70 percent of paddy fields for long-grained non-glutinous rice.
China is a leader in the world's "super rice" research, with more than 20 super rice strains cultivated. It announced it had developed the first super high-yield hybrid rice strain in 1999, when crop yields reached 10,500 kg of rice per hectare steadily. The Ministry of Agriculture said earlier this year that China sowed 60-million-mu (4 million hectares) of hybrid rice in 12 provinces and regions this year.
(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2005)