Changsha, Hunan Province, China, Thursday 6 September 2018 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio was hosted by the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre located at Mapoling, Furong District, Changsha, Hunan Province where he was addressed by scientists.
Welcoming the President and delegation the “Father of Hybrid Rice” in China and principal scientist, Professor Yuan Longping, said that the centre and staff were very privileged to host President Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Professor Longping said that the centre was established in 1995 and it was the first research institute specialised in hybrid rice development both at home and abroad.
President Bio and his team were also told that since Professor Yuan Longping proposed the technical route for super hybrid rice breeding, which is combining ideal plant type with inter-subspecific heterosis in 1997, the centre had made significant progress in super hybrid rice research and the yield targets of 10.5, 12.0, 13.5 and 15.0 t/hm for Phase I, Phase II, Phase III and Phase IV of Chinese super rice breeding.
The Chinese Professor also proposed the new plant type model for super hybrid rice breeding in 2012 and developed super hybrid rice variety called “Super 1000”, which reached 16 t/hm in 2015, 17 t/hm in 2017 and now striding towards the target of 18 t/hm. He said that currently, in order to thoroughly implement food security strategy of storing grains inland and technology, the centre was actively exploring new rice breeding technology which is green, organic and safe. Longping assured the President that it would be a pleasure to help Sierra Leone achieve food security as much as he can.
Responding, President Bio thanked the centre for the warm reception accorded him and his team. He said that because of a series of challenges Sierra Leone has not been able to feed itself and now importing at least US$200 million of rice every year. President Bio said that his visit to the centre was to learn about the great work they do on rice production and to see how Sierra Leone can benefit from that.
“I want to be able to provide an opportunity to feed the nation,” President Bio said.
President Bio also appealed to the Centre that he would like to see students from Sierra Leone giving an opportunity to study at the centre. With Professor Yuan Longping about 90 years-old now, President Bio said that if he had the chance he would like to take Longping to Sierra Leone to be able to see how we can improve on agriculture and rice cultivation. Because of his age, Professor Longping said that he would send his team of experts to Sierra Leone.
Later, President Bio and team were taken to the Super Hybrid Rice Experimental Field of the Research Centre where the President and Team were briefed on the ongoing rice experiment.
Earlier and in furtherance to his commitment on food security, His Excellency President Bio also held a meeting with Hainan International Group in Shanghai where he told them that his ambition was to reduce rice importation in the next five years and that his Government would provide all necessary support for that ambition to be achieved. During a follow-up meeting between Hainan International Group and the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Joseph Ndanema, Hainan International agreed to plant 35,000 hectares of rice out of which the Group will start planting 5,000 hectares for the first phase.
Every year China takes 10 million people out of poverty and throughout his visit, President Bio kept asking the question: “If China can take 10 million people out of poverty every year, why can’t Sierra Leone take 7 million people out of poverty?”
During the election campaign, President Bio promised economic diversification and the agriculture sector is one area he intends to use for his economic diversification. Like with many other promises, President Bio is only delivering on his election promise to diversify the economy.
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