CHINA Hainan's hybrid seeds sprout along Belt, Road

CHINA

Hainan's hybrid seeds sprout along Belt, Road

Ma Zhiping in Haikou | China Daily

12:45, March 29, 2019

Farmers harvest hybrid rice at the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base in Sanya, Hainan province, on May 12. (Photo: China Daily)

Island province 'will ensure' that Boao Forum continues to promote cooperation

The international exchanges and cooperative efforts prompted by the Boao Forum for Asia are turning Hainan province into the Silicon Valley of seeds for countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to a Hainan government official.

More hybrid rice seeds cultivated by Chinese scientists at the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base in Hainan are being introduced to ASEAN countries. The total combined area of hybrid rice cultivation in India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia - major rice-growing countries - has reached 4.28 million hectares, said Wang Sheng, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan province.

Wang spoke at a news conference on March 19 before the Boao Forum for Asia 2019 Annual Conference in Boao, Hainan, which ends on Friday.

Since 2015, more than 100 foreign experts and students from countries involved in the BRI have visited Hainan annually to study agricultural technology, including Nanfan's breeding program, which is "playing the role of Silicon Valley for the country's seed industry", Wang said.

Hainan's climate and biological resources have made Nanfan an important national center of seed propagation. Every winter, more than 7,000 domestic agricultural scientists and workers are busy at the Nanfan centers. More than 70 percent of the country's 7,000 crop varieties have been cultivated in the tropical island province, which is building a global resources center, National Business Daily reported.

"With good stress resistance and higher yields, hybrid rice seeds developed by Nanfan's centers are being welcomed in Southeast Asian countries," said Xie Zhenyu, an assistant research fellow at the Research Institute of Tropical Crop Germ Plasm under the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences.

"We have sent farming experts to hybrid rice growing areas overseas, and we give local farmers guidance, training and planning for future development," said Xie, who has worked as an expert in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Gambia.

Under the Boao Forum framework, Hainan has created a series of subforums, such as the ASEAN-China Governors/Mayors Dialogue, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Island Economy subforum, the South China Sea subforum, the Roundtable Discussion for Overseas Chinese Business Leaders and Chinese think tanks, Wang said. "These diplomatic platforms serve as new bridges to promote practical industrial cooperation between BRI countries."

Activities at the Boao forum this year will highlight land and sea interconnectivity between BRI countries. Invitations will be sent to overseas participants to share in building a pilot free trade zone in Hainan.

Hong Kong youth groups will be invited to Hainan to see space satellite launch facilities, deep-sea science and technology, seed breeding and other fields. Invitations will be extended to young people from ASEAN countries, Lancang-Mekong river nations and BRI countries to promote people-to-people understanding, Wang said.

"Hainan will ensure that the Boao Forum for Asia continues to promote greater cooperation in healthcare, tourism, education, technology, tropical agriculture and the seed industry," Wang said.

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