In a major agricultural breakthrough, Chinese scientists have managed to grow saltwater-resistant rice which could feed 200 million around the world.
The breakthrough was achieved by Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center who have been experimenting on saline soil tolerant rice strains for long to boost its commercial production, in Qingdao, a Chinese port city bordering the Yellow Sea.
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Using the salt water of Yellow sea after diluting it, researchers have produced 6.5 to 9.3 tons of rice per hectare whereas their target was to produce 4.5 tons of rice per hectare, according to an article published on nextshark.com.
A Chinese scientist at the Qingdao Saline-Alkaline Tolerant Rice Research and Development Centre shows rice last month that can survive high levels of salinity Photo: South China Morning Post/Imaginechina
Known as “Father of Hybrid Rice,” lead Researcher of this experiment Yuan Longping has initiated the experiment, planting over 200 types of rice in 2016. He told the South China Morning Post that the cultivation of salt resistant rice can feed more than 200 million people.
These rice species are getting popular for its potential health benefits, especial flavor, and texture. These species can be rich in calcium and micronutrients as it grow in a saline environment, reports news.xinhuanet.com. Moreover, working as a disinfectant itself, the salt property in the rice may decrease the use of pesticides.
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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.
Meanwhile, another Netherlands-based research organisation, Salt Farm Texel, is experimenting on a variety of salt tolerant crops.
The organisation has been working with many NGOs, breeders and farmers across the world and is demonstrating the potential of saline water and soil resources to for increasing the cultivation of salt tolerant crops.
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Scientists have been experimenting on seawater and saline-soil tolerant rice production for a long time now but salinity, the abiotic constraint, has been yielding plant growth until the recent success.
According to Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), about 1.5 billion hectares of land around the world is salt affected and this number increases with three hectare every minute. However, the unprecedented success has initiated new pathway of food production in the salt affected areas around the world.