China Harvest Season: New rice cultivation method aims to ensure food security

Farmers across China are embracing the autumn harvest. In recent years, technological innovation has become a driving force for rural development. In a once impoverished area in southwest China's Yunnan Province, locals are reaping the benefits of some of these advances first hand. Yang Jinghao reports from Yunnan.

Farmers in this town in Lancang County are harvesting paddy rice. It's the first time that they have cultivated the crop in a different way – growing it in dry farmland instead of paddy fields.

Before that, they had mainly bought the major staple food from market.

LIU SHIBAO Farmer, Lancang County "In the beginning, I was skeptical about the feasibility of the practice and didn't expect much. But it surprisingly turns out a bumper harvest. Besides self-sufficiency, we can probably sell some of it. I'm really happy."

This program is led by Zhu Youyong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

After years of experiments by his team, some 33,000 hectares of paddy rice was grown this way across Yunnan. Some is even planted on hillsides.

Zhu says the method has made cultivation a lot easier, as some procedures like seedling raising are not needed.

ZHU YOUYONG Academic, China Academy of Engineering "Another advantage is that it's conducive for the development of water-efficient agriculture. Take the rice fields here for example, we didn't irrigate them at all and just relied on rainfall. This type of farming is very suitable in areas with insufficient water."

YANG JINGHAO Lancang County, Yunnan "China is both a big producer and consumer of grain. Zhu says this initiative will not only help farmers increase their income; it will also play an active role in ensuring food security."

Initial measurement shows that the yield is about 9,000 kilos per hectare, outweighing that planted in paddy fields.

Zhu says that two key issues were addressed during the process. One is how to make tillering possible in non-irrigated land.

ZHU YOUYONG Academic, China Academy of Engineering "Another problem is that there are a lot more weeds in dry land than in paddy fields, and they also grow faster. With years of experiments, we've developed a new technology that can eliminate the weeds at the beginning."

Zhu is a renowned plant pathologist. Since 2015, he has been dedicated to helping the county bordering Myanmar shake off poverty. He says technological innovation is the key to the sustainable development of the vast rural areas after the elimination of extreme poverty.

The scientist says he hopes his methods can be promoted to more areas and even foreign countries to benefit more people.

Date: 26-Sep-2022
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