China's "father of hybrid rice" is planning to expand its production of sea-rice at a newly founded research center in Qingdao, a port city in the eastern province of Shandong, local sources said Saturday.
Within three years, the sea-rice research and development center, headed by scientist Yuan Longping, is expected to expand the yield of sea-rice to 200 kilograms on each "mu," the Chinese unit equivalent to 666 square meters, according to local authorities in Qingdao's Licang District, where the new research body is located.
Wild sea-rice is sometimes found in saline-alkaline soil at the junctures where rivers join the sea. The plant is resistant to pests, diseases, salt and alkali and does not need fertilizer. But its unit output is only around 75 kg.
The Qingdao research center will use gene sequencing to cultivate new strains of sea-rice that will yield more rice and grow with saline water.
With start-up funding of 100 million yuan ($14.86 million), scientists will start their experiment on a 2-hectare saline-alkaline marsh land just north of the Jiaozhou Bay in April. The project will eventually draw an investment of 2 billion yuan.
Over the past decades, Chinese scientists, led by Yuan, have worked out new approaches to significantly increase the yield of rice, a staple food for 65 percent of the Chinese.