We lost “Father of Hybrid Rice” - Squadron Leader (Rtd) M Sadrul Ahmed Khan

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Yuan Longping
China’s Yuan Longping “father of hybrid rice”, died on Saturday 22 May 2021 at the age of 91.

The Chinese agronomist was famous for developing the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s and regarded as a national hero for boosting grain harvests and helping to feed the world’s most populous countries. It is said that the founding father of China Mao Zedong gave birth to the Chinese nation and Yun Longping gave food to the nation. Both of them are from Hunan Province.

Yuan Longping was born in September 1930, after completing his graduation from Southwest Agricultural College, he began his career as an agrarian researcher. He was driven to increase rice output in China because of the hunger he had witnessed in the 1960s.

As early as 1964, Yuan came out with the theory that a male sterile grain could be crossed with other plants to boost yields, after so many experiments, finally, in 1973 he successfully cultivated the first hybrid rice. Mass cultivation of this crop began in 1976 and proved as a revolution in China’s rice production. As much as 50 percent of China’s total number of rice paddies grow on Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice species and these hybrid rice paddies yield 60 percent of the total rice production in China. Due to Yuan’s hard work, China’s total rice output rose from 56.9 million tons to 194.7 million tons

China first exported hybrid rice to the United States in 1979 and it has a technology cooperation agreement with several developing countries which are sometimes termed as “rice diplomacy”, including the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Madagascar and so on.

Yuan’s philosophy was “Developing hybrid rice for the benefit of the people of the world”. Since the 1980s, Yuan and his team have trained more than 14,000 hybrid rice technicians in nearly 80 developing countries. At present, more than 40 countries and regions in the world, including India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the USA, Brazil and Madagascar. The acreage under cultivation has reached 800,000 hectares annually; with the average yield per hectare about two tons higher than that of conventional varieties.

Yuan’s hybrid rice solves Bangladesh’s food crisis. So far, 160 Chinese varieties of rice are registered in Bangladesh, with an annual acreage of 900,000 acres.

China is the largest hybrid rice seeds exporter to Bangladesh, China has also brought advanced seed production technology. Each year, China produces 9000 acres of seeds locally. Compared with the conventional rice varieties in Bangladesh, the yield of hybrid rice in China increased by more than 20%, which played a great role in combating the food crisis of Bangladesh.

China is supporting Bangladesh in new breed development and technology Every year. Several training courses on hybrid rice technology has been arranged by the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture, BADC, Rice Research Institute and various seed companies.

Father of hybrid rice Yuan was honoured with many awards. Four asteroids and a college in China have been named after him. Yuan won the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award of China in 2000, the Wolf Prize in Agriculture and the World Food Prize in 2004. In 2019, Yuan was awarded the Medal of the Republic.

We mourn the death of Yuan Longping a great friend of Bangladesh. His theory and hybrid seeds had given us the “Green Revolution” dreamt by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. we believe developing and strengthening Yuan’s hybrid rice research such as saline water-tolerant rice strains can significantly contribute to ensure food security in Bangladesh.

Squadron Leader (Rtd) M Sadrul Ahmed Khan

Writer: Squadron Leader (Rtd) M Sadrul Ahmed Khan is a member of Bangladesh Awami League, Finance and Planning Affairs Subcommittee. He also Served as Deputy Serjeant-At-Arms in Bangladesh Parliament (2009-18) . During his military career, Sadrul served in different capacities in BAF Bases and Units. He was a recipient of Chief of Air Staff Commendation Certificate. He served in Bangladesh Army as military police and discharged peacekeeping duties at united nation operation in cote-de-ivoire (UNOCI).

After his voluntary retirement from the military, Sadrul joined Bangladesh Awami League and wishes to involve in nation building activities. His hobby is tree plantation and marathon running.

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