Beijing, May 24 (EFE).- Thousands said goodbye Monday in the city of Changsha to Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, known for having developed the first varieties of hybrid rice and who died last week aged 90.
His death Saturday has unleashed a torrent of tributes in the country, which considers Yuan a hero for his innovations in the cultivation of hybrid rice.
Thanks to his research, rice production rose by 20 percent throughout the 1970s, giving it the capacity to feed an additional 70 million people.
“We have come from far away to say goodbye to him. I have come with my son to learn about the importance of him,” a woman who went to the crematorium Sunday told the CCTV state network.
“China and many other people in the world were able to fill their rice bowl thanks to him,” another citizen told China Daily.
Yuan was awarded the 2019 Republic Medal, China’s highest honor, for his contribution to China’s food security, scientific development of agriculture, and increased global food production.
When he turned 89 in September of that year, state news agency Xinhua dedicated an article to him in which it celebrated being able to “feed almost a fifth of the world’s population” in a country where arable land has not exceeded 13.5 percent in recent decades.
Citizens paid tribute to the scientist, whose innovations came a few years after the Great Leap Forward campaign (1958-61), aimed at transforming the traditional agrarian economy through collectivization and boosting steel production, which caused a famine that killed millions.
His recognition in the country gave him the honor of being chosen as one of the Olympic torch bearers during the 2008 games. EFE