Chinese agriculture scientists have bred new rice varieties named "Green Super Rice (GSR)" for developing Asian and African countries to reduce hunger and increase local farmers' income.
Supported by the Chinese government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project has bred 78 GSR varieties for 18 countries with a total grown area of 6.12 million hectares since its launch in 2008, hoping to benefit 30 million resource-poor smallholder rice farmers in Asia and Africa.
GSR varieties are superior rice varieties that can produce high and stable yields under fewer inputs. They need less chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water, and are more tolerant to pests, diseases, drought, salinity, submergence and other abiotic or biotic stresses, said Li Zhikang, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences.
The research team led by Li has developed an efficient molecular breeding strategy by which the selecting period of new varieties can be cut down from 8-10 years to 4-6 years.
With a better tolerance for tough conditions, GSR varieties can achieve an average 0.89-1.83 tonnes increase per hectare, which means 230.9 dollars per hectare for a rice farmer, according to a survey conducted in the Philippines.
"China has a very strong rice breeding and rice genetics effort, and the GSR project has shared germplasm resources from Chinese research institutes to many Asian and African countries," said Gary Atlin, senior program officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "China has provided really wonderful support for rice research and development all over the developing world."
Source: Xinhua News