Chinese technology, experts help Madagascar triple rice yield
Published: Dec 10, 2019 08:38 PM

Yuan Longping (2nd R) , the "father of hybrid rice", inspects a demonstration field with other experts at Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, Oct. 22, 2019. The third-generation hybrid rice developed by Yuan Longping, the "father of hybrid rice," and his team underwent its first public yield monitoring from Monday to Tuesday and achieved high output. The final yield of the tested variety, G3-1S/P19, came to 1,046.3 kg per mu (about 667 square meters), based on two plots of land in Qingzhu Village under the city of Hengyang in Hunan. (Xinhua/Chen Zeguo)

As the world pioneer in hybrid rice technology, China has helped the Republic of Madagascar grow the grain for 13 years with remarkable results - yields have tripled in the African country, the head of a leading Chinese hybrid rice firm in Madagascar told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Even though Madagascar has a 400-year history of growing rice, yields were less than 2.5 tons per hectare in the past. But they soared to 7.5 tons per hectare under instruction of Chinese agricultural experts and companies, Zhang Lijun, manager of the Madagascar agricultural industrial park of Hunan Province-based Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture Co, told the Global Times. 

Chinese agronomist Yuan Longping, known for developing the first hybrid rice strains, is praised as the "father of hybrid rice."

"The highest yield of the hybrid rice could reach 10.8 tons per hectare in Madagascar," he noted, adding that hybrid rice seeds and sowing methods from China made this happen on 20,000 hectares of rice paddies. 

"Our sowing method of hybrid rice doesn't require transplanting as the Madagascar farmers used to do. One farmer could only transplant rice seedlings on less than 0.1 hectares per day, but now the farmer could seed 0.2 to 0.3 hectares per day using our method," Zhang said.

He noted that about 20 Chinese experts and staff now work in the agricultural industrial park.

Chinese hybrid rice technology helped local farmers increase their incomes by $300 - $400 per hectare per year, according to Zhang. 

Now, Madagascar has become the country with the largest planting area and the highest yield of hybrid rice in Africa, and the first African country to realize the development of the entire industrial chain of hybrid rice breeding, seed production, planting, processing and sales, China Radio International reported.

On Monday, the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center and Guangdong Province-based property company Country Garden's agriculture division signed a cooperation deal with Madagascar's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, to help the African country realize rice self-sufficiency by 2024. 

From 2000 to 2018, China-Africa trade in farm products increased from $650 million to $6.92 billion, with an average annual growth rate of 14 percent, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu.

By the end of 2018, Chinese enterprises had invested more than 15 billion yuan ($2.13 billion) in Africa, with 115 agricultural projects worth more than 5 million yuan, covering more than two-thirds of African countries, according to the ministry.

"China is willing to share its experience and practices in food production and vows to support Africa in achieving food security by 2030," said Han.

In the next three years, China will hold training courses to train another 10,000 agricultural experts in Africa. 

The value of agricultural trade between China and Africa is expected to exceed $10 billion within 10 years, reported on Monday.

Chinese companies will invest $50 million to build an agricultural industrial park in Madagascar, with an annual production of 4,000 tons of hybrid rice, the report said.

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