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Hybrid rice taking trip overseas

Xu Wei
Updated: Jan 8,2016 8:14 AM     China Daily

China’s National Rice Research Institute is looking to tap into seed markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America as it promotes its hybrid rice varieties over the next five years.

Cheng Shihua, director general of the institute, said it will promote its hybrid rice seeds in emerging markets.

“We have conducted a number of tests on new rice varieties in rice paddies overseas. More often than not, our hybrids produce 30 percent higher yields than local varieties,” he said.

The Hangzhou-based institute, which emphasizes genetic studies of rice and genome research for improving rice yields, grain quality, pest resistance and stress tolerance, is set to launch a joint venture seed company in Indonesia to develop new hybrid rice varieties for farmers.

Cheng said the institute will partner with Chinese seed companies to promote its technology overseas.

“We need to ensure that the rice companies make a profit and that local farmers improve their yields,” he said.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the institute will go further than simply setting up demonstration centers for Chinese technologies, he said.

“We need to establish ourselves in the local seed markets, and this will offer us a starting point to establish ourselves further in the agricultural sector,” he said.

He said the cost to export Chinese rice seeds to foreign markets remains high, so the institute wants to develop local rice varieties overseas with a local labor force.

The concept must go through a very complicated administrative approval procedure from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We are hoping that the approval procedure will be simplified in the near future,” he said.

Development of local rice varieties overseas will also help China improve its own rice research, as it will help enrich its rice gene pool, he said.

Hu Peisong, deputy director general of the institute and a researcher in rice genetic studies and genome research, said the country still lags behind other major rice-producing countries in the world in terms of improving grain quality.

He said the institute will put more focus on the improvement of rice quality over the next five years in order to meet the nation’s growing demand.

“International academic exchanges with Southeast Asia and India are also getting more frequent, and that will help the country improve its rice quality as well,” he said.

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