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Saline-alkali soil rice provides hope for global food security

(Xinhua)    15:28, October 19, 2020

JINAN, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Yield estimates of saline-alkali soil rice conducted last Friday at three plantation bases across China point to high yield levels.

The largest such base, located in the city of Weifang, east China's Shandong Province, has an annual yield of 625.3 kg per mu, or nearly 9.38 tonnes per hectare, according to estimates of experts.

The rice breed at the base in Qingdao, Shandong Province, has an estimated yield of 11.1 tonnes per hectare, while the rice breed at the base in the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, has an estimated yield of 4.81 tonnes per hectare.

"We planted 1,000 mu of saline-alkali soil rice last year. We increased the acreage to 50,000 mu this year," said Tian Guoqing, general manager of Shandong Binyuan Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd., which is in charge of operations at the Weifang base.

"We will double the acreage to 100,000 mu next year," said Tian.

Earlier this year, the Qingdao saline-alkali tolerant rice research and development center, led by Yuan Longping, a renowned agronomist dubbed China's "father of hybrid rice," launched an ambitious program of planting 100,000 mu (about 6,667 hectares) of rice in saline-alkali soil in three cities in Shandong and seven other bases across the country.

The majority of these bases had estimated yields of more than 500 kg per mu, or 7.5 tonnes per hectare, this year. The base in the city of Dongying in Shandong Province has set a new yield record of 860.95 kg per mu, or 12.9 tonnes per hectare.

Agricultural experts said that the saline-alkali soil rice will boost food security for both the Chinese people and the world, and the favorable yield estimates should be considered a gift to the world on World Food Day.

Speaking via video link at a press conference for World Food Day on Friday, Yuan Longping said he hoped that China could soon reach a saline-alkali soil rice acreage of 100 million mu, which is very likely to help boost the country's total rice yield by 30 billion kg.

"That is equal to the annual grain output of central China's Hunan Province and can help feed over 80 million people, which will be a huge contribution to the country's food security," said Yuan, who turned 90 in September.

Rice is a staple food in China, as well as in many other Asian countries.

China has about 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil, of which about one-fifth could be converted into arable soil.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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