Caixin
Apr 14, 2015 06:39 PM

Firm Named for Top Rice Scientist Pulls Variety of Seeds after Crop Failure

(Beijing) – A company named after China's "father of hybrid rice" said it has stopped selling a certain seed variety after reports of a large crop failure in the eastern province of Anhui last year.

Shenzhen-listed Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co. announced the decision regarding its Liangyou 0293 variety of seeds on April 13. It said cold weather was responsible for lower rice yields in the Anhui city of Bengbu in 2014.

The company also said it is talking to rice growers, seed wholesalers and local agricultural regulators to work out plans to help farmers control their losses, but did not elaborate on what that aid would entail.

The Southern Weekend newspaper said on April 9 that rice growers in Bengbu planted a total of 667 hectares of Liangyou 0293 in 2014, but suffered heavy losses due to an infection of a fungal disease called rice blast. Farmers said the problem was so serious that some had no yields.

The newspaper said Longping High-tech Agriculture engaged in fraudulent promotions and failed to warn farmers about the risk of infection. The company labeled its Liangyou 0293 variety of seed as grade 5.6 in terms of resistance to rice blast, meaning the likelihood of fungal infection is less than one-quarter. However, a note tucked in the package stated that the grade could go as high as 9.0, meaning the likelihood of an infection rose to half.

Longping High-tech said its labeling is in line with national standards.

The company also cited weather authorities in Anhui as reporting that the average temperature in July and August was 26.2 degrees Celsius, the lowest since 1994. It also said the Liangyou 0293 seed variety had performed well from 2008 to 2013.

Yuan Longping is famous for his research into so-called super hybrid rice. He started work in 1996 and by the end of 2013, he and his team had developed 126 varieties of super hybrid rice that were grown in 46.7 million hectares of paddy in China.

Super hybrid rice originated in Japan, and is superior to other varieties of the grain in terms of yield, quality and resistance to disease.

Yuan's secretary, Yang Yaosong, told the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper that Liangyou 0293 was not one of the varieties Yuan researched.

Longping High-tech Agriculture advertised Liangyou 0293 as "a flagship variety of Academician Yuan Longping's second phase of super rice research" in its labeling. Yuan's photo is on the back of the packages of seeds.

In 2000, Yuan won the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, a top scientific honor given by the government. He was also an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a top government think tank.

Longping High-tech Agriculture said Liangyou 0293 was approved for planting by a committee under the Ministry of Agriculture in 2006 as suitable for use in provinces such as Fujian, Hunan and Anhui.

An agriculture ministry official told the Economic Daily newspaper that Liangyou 0293 is not listed as a type of super hybrid rice.

However, Longping High-tech Agriculture said the seed was certified as a variety of super hybrid rice by the government of the central province of Hunan, where it is headquartered. It reported selling 7 million yuan worth of the seeds last year.

(Rewritten by Li Rongde)

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