Shanghai, China, May 22 (EFE).- Prominent Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, known for having developed the first varieties of hybrid rice, died Saturday at the age of 90, state media reported.
China’s ‘Father of Hybrid Rice’ died at 1.07 pm Beijing time in a hospital in Changsha, Hunan province, broadcaster CGTN said citing the medical center.
The agronomist, who was born in Beijing in September 1930, was considered a hero in the Asian country.
His first hybrid rice crops developed in the early 1970s increased production by 20 percent – having the capacity to feed an extra 70 million people, a Xinhua article from 2019 said.
Later, he developed even more productive varieties that repeatedly broke records, going from about 10 tons per hectare in 2000 to over 15 in 2014.
Hybrid rice has since been grown around the world, providing more food security for many countries.
In 2019, Yuan was nominated for the Medal of the Republic, China’s highest honor, for his contribution to the country’s food security, scientific development of agriculture, and increased global food production.
In September of that year, the aforementioned Xinhua article celebrated Yuan for having “helped China work a great wonder – feeding nearly one-fifth of the world’s population with less than 9 percent of the world’s total land.”
“I am now in my 90s and hope that I can live to be 100 years old,” Yuan told Xinhua. “I’m confident in the future of my country, and I want to make more contributions to its prosperity.”
He was also chosen to be the first torchbearer for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. EFE