At present, as much as 60 percent of China's total rice grow Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice species. More rice so produced is enough to feed 60 million people. Worldwide, 20% of rice comes from the rice species created by hybrid rice following his methodology.
The "Super Rice" Yuan is now testing yields 30 percent higher than those of common rice.
A famous economist claimed the Yuan’s achievement as a victory over the threat of famine and that Yuan was ushering us into a world with ample food.
Born in 1930 and a graduate from the Southwest Agriculture Institute in 1953, Yuan began his teaching career at an agriculture school in Anjiang, Hunan Province.
He came up with an idea for hybridizing rice in the 1960s, when a series of natural disasters and inappropriate policies had plunged China into an unprecedented famine that caused many deaths.
Since then, he has devoted himself to the research and development of a better rice breed.
In 1964, he happened to find a natural hybrid rice plant that had obvious advantages over others. Greatly encouraged, he began to study the elements of this particular type.
In 1973, in cooperation with others, he was able to cultivate a type of hybrid rice species which had great advantages. It yielded 20 percent more per unit than that of common ones.
The next year their research made a breakthrough in seeding. They successfully developed a set of technologies for producing indica (long-grained non-glutinous) rice, putting China in the lead worldwide in rice production. For this achievement, he was dubbed the "Father of Hybrid Rice."
At present, as much as 50 percent of China's total rice fields grow Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice species, yield 60 percent of the rice production in China. Due to Yuan's hard work, China's total rice output rose from 5.69 billion tons in 1950 to 19.47 billion tons last year, about 300 billion kilograms more have been produced over the last twenty years. The annual yield increase is enough to feed 60 million people.
The "Super Rice" Yuan is now working on yields are 30 percent higher than those of common rice. A record yield of 17,055 kilograms per hectare was registered in Yongsheng County in Yunnan Province in 1999.
He has gone abroad every year to provide guidance. He also sent scientists to India, Viet Nam, Myanmar and Bangladesh to work as advisors. Between 1981 and 1998, the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center under Yuan Longping held 38 training classes with over 100 participants from 15 countries. With the help of Chinese scientists, the acreage of hybrid rice in Vietnam and India increased to 200,000 hectares and 150,000 hectares respectively in 1999.
The FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) 1991 statistics show that 20 percent of the world's rice output came from 10 percent of the world's rice fields that grow hybrid rice.
He is currently the Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center and has been appointed as Professor at Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha. He is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2006) and the 2006 CPPCC.
Yuan worked as the chief consultant for the FAO in 1991.