Yuan Longping, China’s leading agricultural scientist, realized one of his 80th birthday wishes recently when his super grain brought yields of 13.9 tons of rice a hectare, setting a new world record for rice output.
The rice breed, DH2525 (Y two superior No 2), produced a harvest of 13.9 tons a hectare during its trial planting in Longhui county in Hunan province.
China plants about 29 million hectares of rice every year, with an average output of 6.3 tons a hectare, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
By 2010, super hybrid rice accounted for nearly 25 percent of the total acreage.
Academician Professor Yuan Longping, previously featured in this magazine for his innovation in introducing system of rice intensification to China said that the target of super-rice in this third phase had been achieved by better variety, better method, excellent paddies that provided many advantage of climate and ecology, and good management.
Does the present breakthrough translate into a yield of 13.5 tons per hectare at commercial scale? Yuan did not think so, but 80% at more than 10.5 tons per hectare is realizable according to past experience.
The highest rice yield in the world is in Australia, on average about 9.9 tons per hectare (660 kg/mu), followed by 6.7 tons per hectare (445 kg/mu) in Japan. The yields of China’s super-rice have now reached 550 and 600 kg/ mu, respectively, at large scale, as the result of the first two phases of development.
More than 50 percent of the world’s population and about 60 percent of Chinese people eat rice.
Meanwhile, more than 900 million people in the world experienced malnutrition and hunger in 2010, up from 800 million in 1995, statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization showed.
“But both in China and other countries, making super hybrid rice planting technologies widespread will take more time due to diverse conditions and a shortage of agricultural professionals,” he said.
By 2009, super rice had been planted in India, Vietnam and the United States, among others, and covered 3 million hectares. The average unit yield had steadily increased over several years.
Yuan said he believes the yield could eventually increase to 15 tons a hectare.
Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world population. Rice production per hectare is now available to feed 27 people, and it needs to feed 43 people by 2050. Yuan told reporters that many countries in the world are suitable for planting China’s hybrid rice. If the area of its cultivation is increased by 75 million hectares globally, an increased yield of 2 000 kg per hectare will provide 150 million tonnes extra for feeding 400-500 million more people, and effectively guarantee food security. China is ready to help people bid farewell to famine.
Increased rice and crop yields also helps to increase the per capita income of people in rural areas (richer farmers and farm workers). This helps to reduce extreme poverty.