Father of hybrid rice to keynote the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress

Professor Yuan Longping, China`s national treasure, will serve as keynote speaker in the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress on April 3-5 at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) here.

Longping, an agriculturist, scientist, and educator, is known as the father of hybrid rice, the first generation product of crossing two rice plants with superior qualities.

He contributed significantly to the humanity through his discovery of the genetic basis of heterosis in rice in the 1970s. Heterosis or hybrid vigor is unique to hybrid rice, which enables plants achieve a greater number of spikelets per panicle, and consequently, higher yields.

The first hybrid rice varieties he developed and released in China in 1974, has helped increase the country’s grain production that feeds 22 percent of the world’s population using only seven percent of the earth’s total arable land.

In 1979, his technique for growing hybrid rice was introduced to the United States, which has helped the US harvest 20 percent more rice.

In 2009, hybrid rice production covered three million hectares in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Based on studies, yield of hybrid rice planted in the Philippines registers 15 percent more than the inbred rice.

Under favorable conditions and proper farm management, farmers can attain a maximum yield of 12 t/ha a season. Farmers usually harvest 4 t/ha using inbred rice.

Studies further show that hybrid rice is P15,000- P20,000 more profitable than inbred rice. In spite of the benefits of planting hybrid rice, data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed a four-percent adoption rate among farmers.

Dr. Eduardo Jimmy P. Quilang, co-chair of the three-day activity, said the congress is hoped to help fast track the adoption of hybrid rice through the creation of the Philippine Hybrid Rice Industry Development Board and resolutions and policy recommendations.

Public and hybrid rice companies including PhilRice, Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology, Bayer CropScience, Bioseed Research Philippines, Inc, DevGen, DuPont Pioneer Philippines, SeedWorks Philippines, Inc, SL Agritech Corporation, and Syngenta will showcase the latest technology in hybrid rice to update the farmers and seed growers.

Together with Longping, Agriculture secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Agrarian Reform secretary Virgilio R. delos Reyes, and undersecretary Rosalina L. Bistoyong will also speak in the congress.