Prize Category 1: Sustainability Prize
Specific Area of Focus: World Food Supply: Safety and Security
Yuan Longping is awarded the inaugural LUI Che Woo Prize 2016 in the Sustainability category, with the specific area of focus of “World Food Supply: Safety and Security” for his scientific achievement in developing high-yielding hybrid rice, which has contributed significantly to the enhancement of the security of world food supply.
Professor Yuan Longping, known as the "Father of Hybrid Rice", is recognised worldwide for his scientific breakthrough in breeding high-yielding hybrid rice, the widespread cultivation of which in the rice fields of China has helped transform China from food deficiency to security in just a few decades.
Breeding hybrid crops for greater yields is a natural concept. However, before Professor Yuan's pioneering work, it was widely accepted that this approach could not succeed for a self-pollinating crop like rice. Professor Yuan nonetheless initiated his research on developing hybrid rice in 1964, and, against all odds, finally succeeded in creating unique genetic tools that made hybrid rice feasible after nine years. In 1976, his hybrid rice, with 20% higher yield than traditional rice species, was put into commercial production in China.
Since 1976, Professor Yuan has continued in his efforts to perfect the technology, as well as the quality and robustness of the hybrid rice produced. At present, nearly 57% of rice fields in China grow hybrid rice species. It is estimated that the increased output by planting hybrid rice can annually support 70 million more people in China over the inbred rice varieties. Professor Yuan's hybrid-rice breeding and production technology has also been shared with and enthusiastically adopted in quite a few other countries, such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United States and Vietnam, many of which with high famine risks, thus significantly enhancing the security of their food supplies.
Yuan Longping, rooted in Dean County, Jiangxi Province, was born on 1 September 1930 in Beijing (then known as Beiping). He graduated from Southwest Agriculture College, China in 1953, and is currently living in Changsha, Hunan. The Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, and the Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center, Yuan is the hybrid rice research and development creator in China and the world’s first scientist successfully utilizing heterosis of rice, winning him the honour of “Father of Hybrid Rice”.
Developing Hybrid Rice for the Welfare of the People all over the world is Yuan’s lifelong wishes. He not only has been endlessly researching the new technology on how to use rice heterosis and enhance rice yield, but also has unreservedly imparted hybrid rice technology to the world to help overcome food shortages and hunger. Since 1980, he has trained more than 3,000 scientists and researchers from about 80 developing countries and has served as a chief consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Yuan has made outstanding achievements and received 19 local and international awards and honours, including China’s first Special-class National Invention Prize in 1981, first State Supreme Science and Technology Award in 2001, Special-class National Science and Technology Award in 2014, the UNESCO Science Prize in 1987, the World Food Prize and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 2004. Yuan’s excellent work on hybrid rice has benefited and will continue to benefit more people in the world.