Qingdao Innovation: Sea rice might provide additional food for millions
Researchers in the eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao have succeeded in growing a salt-resistant strain of rice. The team is led by China's top hybrid rice expert Yuan Longping. Experts have been turning wasteland to boost food production. CGTN's Sun Tianyuan reports.
Growing crops in salty soil on a beach should be impossible. But Chinese scientists have achieved just that. Introducing sea rice, a salt-tolerant breed, that might feed millions of people in the future. The Qingdao Sea Rice Reserch and Development Center has been working on this hybrid rice since 2014.
LI JIMING, HEAD OF MOLECULAR BREEDING GROUP QINGDAO SEA RICE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER "By planting hybrid rice on saline-alkali land, we can find out if the rice has salt-tolerant genes. Then we put those genes into the new seeds, which give the new sea rice the advantages of hybrid rice, and the feature of saline-alkaline tolerance as well."
The special breed can also be grown in other salt-stressed land. Plant experts have set up experimental demonstration bases nationwide - even in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - 4,000 kilometers from sea.
LIU JIAYIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR QINGDAO SEA RICE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER "China has a hundred million hectares of saline-alkaline land. We plan to transform 6.6 million hectares for rice cultivation, which can produce a further 30 billion kg of rice per year to feed 80 million people."
An international trial that began in October last year in the desert of Dubai has broken local harvest records. Experts say they hope the project can turn the desert region into an "oasis" of rice one day.
DR. HENDA MAHMOUDI, CROP PHYSIOLOGIST INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR BIOSALINE AGRICULTURE "It's very good collaboration with Chinese research institution, they're trying to find out the better hybrid rice species and better saline alkali tolerance and this is one of the solution."
SUN TIANYUAN QINGDAO "Experts caution there is still a long way to go to prove the commercial viability of the breed. But still, the rice has given hope to people. And maybe one day it could be a way to boost food production worldwide. Sun Tianyuan, CGTN, Qingdao."