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Yuan Longping: Committed to benevolence and humanity's well-being

Source: 22, 2021

On May 22, Yuan Longping, the renowned Chinese scientist who helped lift countless people out of hunger, passed away, setting off an outpouring of grief among the Chinese public. His passing was reported by numerous foreign media outlets.

Dubbed the "father of hybrid rice," Yuan Longping cultivated the world's first high-yielding hybrid rice strain in 1973. Ever since, the yield of hybrid rice has continued to set new world records, from 300 kg to 500 kg and then 700 kg per mu (about 0.07 hectares). Now, the per-mu yield of the super hybrid rice Chaoyou 1000 developed by Yuan's team has exceeded 1,000 kg. Before Yuan, the world's scientific community believed that rice could not be crossbred.

This ordinary but great man not only helped China, a country with a population of 1.4 billion, solve the problem of achieving food self-sufficiency, but also made important contributions to global food security.

At present, the hybrid rice developed by Yuan's team has been introduced for wide application and trial planting in dozens of countries and regions around the world. In Madagascar, the yields from hybrid rice were up to 300% higher than those of native varieties. In Indonesia, they produced more than double that of local strains. In 2018, trials for growing rice in the deserts of Dubai were, for the first time in history, successfully carried out by Yuan's team.

In many people's eyes, he was a scientist who relentlessly pursued his dreams despite loneliness and hardship. Hybrid breeding experiments are no easy tasks. In the early days of his research, Yuan personally examined more than 14,000 rice ears before he found six natural male sterile plants. At the age of 90, he was still out conducting research, visiting the fields almost every day to observe the growth of hybrid rice.

Yuan was also a benevolent gentleman with an unwavering commitment to the well-being of humanity. Though born into a well-educated family, he witnessed starvation when he was young, which made him determined to devote himself to agricultural research. He spent more than 10 years helping African countries grow hybrid rice and worked tirelessly to tap the yield potential of rice for decades. During the last few years of his life, Yuan was dedicated to the research and development of sea rice. He made every effort to fulfill his lifelong wish — people all over the world having enough to eat.

Yuan Longping has left behind a precious legacy of the little rice seed to the world. "Everyone is like a seed — we should try to grow into good people," Yuan once said. This ordinary but great man is worth remembering.

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