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Plan to ensure food security launched

A farmer harvests rice in Congjiang county, Guizhou province on Aug 18, 2021. (LUO JINGLAI / FOR CHINA DAILY)

China will beef up efforts to create higher yields and higher quality production of major food crop varieties, and self-sufficiency in major livestock and poultry varieties by 2030, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said.

It released an action plan to promote the national seed industry late last month in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, where the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base is located.

The plan lays out the necessary theoretical, scientific and technological developments for the industry to improve seed varieties and grain yields, and ensure protection of national germ plasm resources.

Since the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), China's ability to innovate in breeding technology has continued to rise, according to Zhang Hecheng, a CAAS official.

More than 96 percent of the country's crop varieties are considered good quality, and domestically bred varieties accounted for 95 percent.

"Seed stock is important to agricultural modernization and improving lives, and the safety of seed resources is a matter of national security," he said.

Though the security of seed use is ensured in China, the country still lags behind globally in terms of breeding theory and key technologies.

Yields of corn and soybeans have not reached those of developed countries, while the availability of some vegetable seeds remains dependent on imports.

"The need to become self-reliant in terms of science and innovation-driven technology is urgent," Zhang said.

In recent years, CAAS has made significant breakthroughs in key technologies including genome-wide selection, ploidy breeding (a process useful in plant breeding), and genetically modified organisms, which has laid a solid foundation for future research, Zhang added.

Wan Jianmin, a CAAS academician, said the plan will resolve the "critical problems" remaining for seeds. Wan was responsible for introducing 50 major tasks to the plan focused on key crop and livestock varieties, and three specific actions involving innovative research, seed enterprises and the creation of a science and technology platform.

The plan aims to reach the development goals for four major crops-rice, wheat, corn, and soybeans-as well as for grain and vegetable seeds, and livestock, poultry and edible oils, Wan said.

"We will strive to achieve high-yield, high-quality self-sufficiency in food crop varieties by 2030, and ensure the absolute security of the country's rice and wheat," he said.

By 2030, the self-sufficiency rate of vegetable varieties, such as broccoli, carrots and spinach, will rise from the current 10 percent to more than 50 percent, he added.

Moreover, a platform will be built to boost seed industry technology, integrating basic research, technological innovation, variety creation, big data, and industry incubation.

zhaoyimeng@chinadaily.com.cn