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China May Succeed in Breeding Higher-yield Super Rice in 2010

A team led by renowned Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping may be able to produce a new type of hybrid "super rice" that boasts a unit output of 13.5 tons per hectare in 2010 at the earliest.

"Yuan was quite confident of achieving the goal," Qing Xianguo, an assistant to Yuan, told a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday. The 78-year-old Yuan was absent as he was not feeling well.

In 2000 and 2004, Yuan successfully bred a super rice that could produce 10.5 tons and 12 tons from each hectare, respectively, after starting his research in 1996.

Qing said Yuan might continue to raise the unit output to 15 tons per hectare. The maximum output for such hybrid rice could reach 22.5 tons per hectare in the central Hunan Province where Yuan usually worked.

"But it is rather difficult to reach the maximum output," he added.

Xu Minghua, Hunan vice governor, told the conference the province, which turns in about 6 percent of the country's grain with farmland that is only 3 percent of the nation's total, would see its grain output hit 30 million tons this year, up 1 million tons.

He said Yuan's hybrid rice technologies had been applied in 333 million hectares of land to boost output by 500 million tons so far in the province. The increased output each year was sufficient to feed 70 million people.

Xu added the hybrid rice would be served during next month's Olympic Games.

Yuan's hybrid rice technologies have been applied across China and in countries including the United States, and around Asia and Africa to boost production capacity there by 20 to 40 percent compared to local rice.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2008)

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