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On October 14, this year's $250,000 World Food Prize at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, was awarded to Professor Yuan Longping, the Father of Hybrid Rice in China, who is Director General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, Hunan. He won the prize for developing the genetic tools necessary for hybrid rice breeding, which altered the self-pollinating characteristics of rice, which is known as the 3-line system; as a result, the world's first successful and widely grown high-yielding hybrid rice varieties, with yields 20% above conventional varieties, were developed. These achievements dramatically increased rice yields and grain outputs in China, providing enough food to feed an additional 60 million people each year. The cowinner of the World Food Prize was Dr Monty Jones of Sierra Leone, who until recently was the Senior Rice Breeder at the West Africa Rice Development Center (WARDA). He is now the Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana. In the 1990s, he developed new rice for Africa (NERICA), a form of rice uniquely adapted to the growing conditions of West Africa, by successfully crossing the Asian Oryza sativa with the African O. glaberrima strains to produce drought-resistant pest-resistant, high-yielding new rice varieties, a feat that had never been achieved in the history of rice breeding. He recaptured the genetic potential of ancient African races by combining the African and Asian rice species, with a "win-win" for both, including dramatically increasing yields and offering great hope to poor farmers. This accomplishment is now producing enhanced harvests for thousands of poor farmers in developing countries, mostly women, and with a potential benefit for 20 million farmers in West Africa alone.

FIGURE. Yuan Longpin... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. Yuan Longping and Monty Jones.