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Growing rice in saltwater
By Michelle Robertson
Millions of people could benefit from an incredible new breakthrough which allows rice to be grown in saltwater. This could boost China’s rice production by a massive 20%. Thanks to researchers at Yangzhou University, over 200 types of rice have thrived after being planted in an area that was flooded with diluted seawater. Researchers were literally stunned by the results saying, “The test results were way above our expectations.” This news means that vast new areas of cultivation within the country can now be utilised, and this will incentivize farmers to plant rice in zones which were until now unviable.
In addition, this “seawater” rice also has some added benefits. It's naturally higher in calcium and fewer pesticides are needed to grow it as insects do not like the salty conditions. It’s a fantastic result after years of attempts. The lead researcher on the project is Yuan Longping – known in China as the “godfather of rice”. He has been developing hybrid rice varieties since the 1970s, when it became apparent that China was due for a population boom. He says that this may be his greatest achievement.