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This is a picture of rice cultivation in Yuanyang, Yunnan, China where the Hani Minority used their bare hands to convert steep mountains into terraced paddies.

China cultivated rice since ancient times and this crop was introduced to India before the time of the Greeks. Although Chinese records of rice cultivation go back 4,000 years, China has to wait until 1930 when one of its citizens was born in Qianyang, Hunan Province to earn the noble title “Father of Hybrid Rice.”

After graduation from Southwest Agricultural College, Yuan Longping was assigned to teach crop genetics and breeding at an agricultural school in Hunan Province. He began his research in hybrid rice development in 1964 and subsequently was transferred to the Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 1971 to serve as a research professor. Two years later he achieved a major scientific breakthrough as he successfully developed the genetic materials essential for breeding high-yielding hybrid rice varieties.

Professor Yuan is widely acknowledged for the discovery of the genetic basis of heterosis in rice — a phenomenon in which the progeny of two distinctly different parents grow faster, yield more, and resist stress better than either parent. He produced a commercial hybrid rice variety called Nan-you No. 2, released in 1974. With yields 20% higher than previous varieties, Yuan’s new crop immediately began to improve food availability in China. His work has fed approximately 60 million more people per year in China alone.

Professor Yuan has shared his knowledge and technology with foreign scientists, providing them with crucial breeding materials for the commercial production of hybrid rice in their respective countries. Farmers in more than ten other countries besides China, including the United States, have thus benefited from his work, gaining access to a technology they may otherwise never have enjoyed. There was a the rapid development of hybrid rice in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Professor Yuan’s pioneering research has helped transform China from food deficiency to food security within three decades. His accomplishments and clear vision helped create a more abundant food supply and, through food security, a more stable world. Professor Yuan’s distinguished life’s work has caused many to call him the “Father of Hybrid Rice.”

Professor Yuan’s remarkable achievements in hybrid rice research have previously won him numerous awards and honors, including China’s State Supreme Science and Technology Award, the 2001 Magsaysay Award, the United Nations’ FAO Medal of Honor for Food Security, and the 2004 Wolf Prize in Agriculture. (Source of compilation)


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