Sustainable rice production in China

Drought is one of the biggest threats in today’s world, and global warming is not a positive note.

The most affected areas include China, the world’s largest producer of rice, which is turning to sustainable rice that can grow in saltwater. Millions of hectares of wetlands in Southern and South‐eastern Asia are technically suitable for rice production, but have very low yields because of salinity, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The scarcity of freshwater required for rice cultivation led Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist known for his experiments on hybrid rice varieties, to develop new types of rice that can be grown also and above all in saltwater, which usually stresses plants and makes photosynthesis more difficult.

His research was carried out near the Yellow Sea coastal city of Qingdao, where 200 different types of modified rice were planted to investigate their reactions in salty conditions.

What was achieved went far beyond expectations. Scientists expected to produce 4,5 tons of rice per hectare but the crops delivered up to 9 tons per hectare.

This saltwater‐tolerant rice has been named “Yuan Mi”, and its current price is 50 Yuan per kilogram (€6,35), which is eight times the price of normal rice.

Despite this, its producer has already received orders from more than a thousand customers and nearly six tons of rice were sold in August. The merit seems to be attributable to its intense flavour.

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