Interest sprouts in Yunnan’s hybrid rice south of the border
Nearly two decades of research and development by Yunnan province’s agricultural institutes and companies to produce high-quality hybrid rice is cultivating interest across South and Southeast Asia.
“Its unique hearty flavor appeals to many people. The crop is also short in height, which is an advantage in windy terrain,” said Lu Yixuan, a researcher at the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
According to the provincial department of science and technology, there are nearly 67,000 hectares across Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh currently growing hybrid rice first developed in Yunnan.
In recent years, more than 1,000 agricultural technicians from Yunnan have visited these countries to teach farmers how to correctly grow the rice.
As of 2014, hybrid rice accounted for 30 percent of China’s rice-growing land, with more than 9.07 million hectares nationwide.
It is produced by crossbreeding different types of rice and is prized for its high output. Yunnan’s hybrid rice, the region’s experts said, can be harvested several times a year.
“Yunnan rice has strong roots and resistance to pests. We have also developed a few types of perennial hybrids that can survive the winter, which most rice cannot,” said Hu Fengyi, a researcher at the Yunnan Agricultural University.
One major reason why Yunnan hybrid rice has spread south of the border is the connectivity brought about by Road Initiative.
“The initiative has pushed Yunnan to the frontline of China’s national economy,” said Long Jiang, director of the department of science and technology of Yunnan. “Through the plan, the rice developed in our province is now going global.”
Rice developers in Yunnan have established agricultural technology parks in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia, and demonstration bases in Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, Long added.
“The average output of Yunnandeveloped rice in these countries is
Belt and 6,000 kilograms per hectare, in large part because of our technology,” said Long.
Wu Xuehua, a deputy director at YunnanJinrui Seed IndustryCo Ltd, said the company has stationed its technicians at its demonstration fields in Laos andMyanmar to teach rice-growing techniques.
In Mandalay, Myanmar, Jinrui recently signed an agreement to share its farming techniques with local farmers.
As part of the deal, the farmers are required to grow the company’s hybrid rice, for which Jinrui will purchase it at 2.2 yuan (34 cents) per kilogram, far higher than the average price of 1.4 yuan to 1.6 yuan per kilogram in Yunnan.
“Our rice grown overseas is high demand in China,” saidWu.
Hu, the researcher at Yunnan Agricultural University, said there are currently more than 330 hectares of perennial hybrid rice fields in Yunnan and that the province plans to introduce this type of rice overseas in the near future.
“Perennial rice has generated a lot of benefits,” said Dai Luyuan, vice-president of the Yunnan Association for Science and Technology. “Not only has it brought down costs and but it is able to prevent the loss of soil.”