Hybrid rice shows China's agricultural progress on National Day parade

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, October 1, 2009
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A giant model of hybrid rice species became an icon of the nation's agricultural achievement at the parade celebrating New China's 60th year of founding.

Super hybrid rice, the latest masterpiece of agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, enables China to produce grains for another 75 million people a year out of the country's paddy fields.

The float was surrounded by farmer representatives who waved wheatears.

Dubbed the "father of hybrid rice", Yuan developed China's first hybrid rice species in the 1970s, which raised output by 20 percent.

Now, the high-yielding species are planted in more than half of China's farmland and helps raise China's grain output from 113.18 million tonnes in 1949 to 528.71 million tonnes last year.

Before 1949, backward technology and the reliance on hand-planting forced millions of people on the brink of starvation, as China's annual grain output was only 290 kilograms a person.

Food security became the top priority for the government of the world's most populous country.

In the late 1970s, the breakthrough in technology, and the introduction of household responsibility system also helped facilitate the agricultural transformation.

Farmers were allowed to sell their additional grains on the market after fulfilling their quota. The policy unleashed their enthusiasm of growing grains.

In recent years, an array of policy incentives such as the abolition of the 2,000-year-old agriculture tax and various subsidies for farmers have also relieved their burden and boosted agricultural productivity.

Sixty years ago, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Gooderham Acheson asserted the communist Chinese government would be unable to feed the 546 million population since none of its predecessors could make it.

Sixty years later, the 1.3 billion Chinese not only feed themselves on less than 7 percent of the world's arable lands, but also has transformed from a donated grain receiver to a donator, according to the World Food Program in 2006.

China has also become the world's top producer of grain, poultry and aquatic products.

This year, despite the worst drought in half a century, China scored the six consecutive good harvest of summer grain.

At the age of 79, Yuan never finds he is too old to test new species in the rice field. He is aiming for a new ambitious goal of testing yields 30 percent higher than common rice, as food security for the 1.3 billion people can never be overstressed.

"If food security can not be ensured, no one can help us," said Sun Zhengcai, minister of agriculture.

The agricultural foundations are not solid, and our task remains arduous, he said.

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