China Invents Rice That Can Grow in Salt Water, Can Feed Over 200 Million People
Scientists in China succeeded in growing the yield of a strain of saltwater-tolerant rice nearly three times their expectation.
In the spring months, over 200 types of rice were planted at the Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center in Qingdao, a coastal city in eastern China’s Shandong Province. Seawater from the Yellow Sea was pumped, diluted and channeled into the rice paddies.
Researchers initially expected an output of around 4.5 tons per hectare, but surprised themselves when four types registered 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare.
Qingdao-based startup Yuan Ce Biological Technology, which partnered with Yuan’s team, is now selling the new rice as “Yuan Mi” in honor of the scientist.
“Yuan Mi,” however, costs 50 yuan ($7.50) per kilogram — about eight times more than the cost of ordinary rice. It is currently sold in 1-kilogram (2.2 pounds), 2-kilogram (4.4 pounds), 5-kilogram (11 pounds) and 10-kilogram (22 pounds) packs.
Tests on saline-alkali tolerant rice have been going on in China for some time, but the unexpected yield marks its readiness for commercialization.
Research leader Yuan Longping, also known as China’s “Father of Hybrid Rice,” told reporters that cultivation of the strain can feed more than 200 million people, the South China Morning Post noted.