Yuan Longping, scientist symbolising Chinese food security dies at 91

Shanghai: Yuan Longping, the agronomist who is known for boosting rice harvests in China during the Cultural Revolution era with hybrid varieties, died on Saturday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. He was 91.

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Yuan died in a hospital in Changsha, the capital city of central Hunan Province, at about 1 p.m. local time, Xinhua said, citing the hospital and other sources it didn’t name. The report didn’t specify the illness that he succumbed to.

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Yuan was recognised as the “father of hybrid rice” in China and was among the first batch in 2019 of “Republic Medal” recipients, the highest order of honor in the country. He cultivated the world’s first high-yielding hybrid rice strain in 1973, which was later grown on a large scale in China and other countries to substantially raise output.

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Food security and self-supply efficiency remains a top priority to the Chinese communist regime as the economic boom in recent decades increased and diversified demand. Yuan’s research has “pulled countless people out of hunger,” Xinhua said.

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Yuan was the honorary chairman of Shenzhen-listed Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co., a seed maker controlled by Chinese conglomerate CITIC Group. One of his sons, Yuan Dingjiang, is vice chairman of the company.

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