Yuan Longping, an agronomist who discovered the most productive rice varieties that have made significant progress in the fight against hunger, died in hospital on May 22 at the age of 90. People's Daily, China's state-run news agency, reports that Yuan was hospitalized after falling in March and eventually succumbing to multiple organ failure.
Born in Beijing in 1930, Yuan's love of reading was nurtured at an early age by his parents, both of whom were teachers, according to The New York Times. Although various political controversies and controversies caused his family to wander, his education was permanent. He studied at Southwest Agricultural College in Chongqing, China, since 1949, when Communist rule began in China. Yuan was interested in agricultural genetics, which was considered very controversial at the time, due to concerns about how the environment would be affected by genetically modified crops. After graduating, he taught agriculture at the Hunan Academy of Agricultural Science, where he remained until the 1980's.
After Mao Zedong, who then led the Communist Party of China, founded the Great Leap Forward in 1958 and put the industry first, and food from those who seemed to be politically inconsistent was destroyed, the country found itself starving. It is estimated that starvation deaths from 36-45 million in 1962, according to the NPR. In his letter, Yuan remembers seeing many corpses on the street every day and wanted to make way for farms to be more productive, reports The Times.
Yuan compared domestic rice with wild varieties and in the early 1970's, developed the first hybrid rice crop ever produced, which produced a 20 percent increase in yield using the same amount of land. It was adopted by Chinese farmers, providing food security to tens of millions more people. Rice was used to alleviate food shortages in Asia and Africa, saving countless lives from starvation. According to the Associated Press, one-fifth of current rice production comes from Yuan's new emergence.Yuan is survived by his wife and three sons.