Three rice scientists honored for boosting nation’s agricultural development

Three projects on rice are winners of the State Natural Science Award for 2017, a testimony to the nation’s growing research capabilities in fundamental science, Xinhua reported on Jan 10.

They include Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice innovation team, bioengineer Li Jiayang’s team, which discovered the molecular mechanism that decides the quality and yield of rice, and frigid rice breeding by Pan Guojun with the Rice Research Institute of Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences in northeastern China.

China is committed to feeding 20 percent of the world’s total population with less than 8 percent of the global arable land. Therefore, food security always guides the country’s agricultural development.

Last year was a big year for Yuan Longping and his team. The maximum yield of sea rice on saline-alkaline soil developed by the team has reached 620.95 kilograms per mu (0.07 hectares), a historic high.

In October 2017, super hybrid rice, known as Xiangliangyou 900, achieved an average yield of 1,149.02 kilograms of rice per mu of farmland, setting a new world record.

Last year, Yuan’s team launched 31 super hybrid rice test fields in 13 provinces and cities.

Now, China is planting 240 million mu of hybrid rice per year, 57 percent of the total coverage of rice fields. The annual yield of hybrid rice is increasing by 2.5 million tons per year, which could feed 70 million people per year.

Li Jiayang’s discovery has allowed scientists to create an ideal rice crop that is nutritious and tasty and produces a high yield. The new discovery has spurred a new agricultural revolution.

“The new discovery has made China one of the world leaders in agricultural biology research. Just like assembling a computer, scientists could combine related genes to create better rice,” Li explained.

Frigid rice breeding has long been dominated by Japan, and Pan’s team, which created high-quality frigid rice with higher yields, has greatly promoted development in this area.

The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stated clearly that China’s food security must be ensured, so that the people always have control over their own food supply.

By constantly innovating technologies, these Chinese scientists are making real efforts to protect food security.