In May this year, China released its "14th Five-Year Plan for Bio-economic Development" for the first time to promote bio-economic growth across all sectors. As a pillar industry, bio-agriculture plays a key role in tackling food security issues.
Bio-agriculture refers to the cultivation of various crops by using biological methods to control pests and diseases and achieve ecological balance. Biological breeding is one of the most promising fields. The advanced plant-breeding technologies are improving grain yields and making a big difference for farmers across the country.
"Biological breeding techniques are used for breeding of animals, plants and microorganisms," said Chong Kang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "It is a method that allows the development of new plant varieties with desired traits by modifying the DNA of the seeds and plant cells."
"Plant breeds cultivated by new plant breeding technologies are resistant to extreme cold weather, insects, drought, etc.," said Luo Wei, an associate researcher at the Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, adding that yields are also greatly improved due to shorter breeding cycles.
Official data shows that the total number of crop varieties in China has increased significantly, with the coverage rate of improved varieties of major food crops exceeding 96 percent. With the rapid development of plant breeding technology, disease-free crops have been cultivated, which helps to solve a series of problems concerning food security in China.
Food security is all the more important due to the surging uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions. Biological breeding technology plays a key role in developing the modern seed industry and solving the problem of food security, as it breaks the limitation of traditional agriculture.
Gong Binlei, a research fellow at the China Academy for Rural Development at Zhejiang University, pointed out that developed countries are now in the development stage of biological agriculture, while China is still in the stage of transition. However, China is picking up the pace.
According to a recently released report by Allied Market Research, the global seed industry accounted for $58.5 billion in 2021. And the Asia-Pacific held the largest share, accounting for more than three-fifths of the market during the same period. In China, there were 6,118 seed enterprises in 2020, whose total assets exceeded 240 billion yuan ($36 billion), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Data indicates that the scale of growth has been impressive with the assets of 430 firms surpassing 100 million yuan (about $14.9 million). The total sales revenue of the 6,118 companies crossed 77 billion yuan (about $11.5 billion) during the same period. China's breeding sector has great competitive advantages and development potential.
The government's guidance and the huge agricultural scientific research development team in China provide strong support for the development of the biological breeding industry, Gong said.
At the same time, Gong also believed that accelerating the innovation of scientific and technological products, establishing a whole-process product management and supervision system, and optimizing resources will promote the development of the biological breeding industry in China.
(Cover photo via CFP)