Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, renowned for developing the first hybrid rice strain that pulled countless people out of hunger, died of illness at 91 on Saturday.


The top rice scientist in China passed away in a hospital in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, at about 1 p.m., according to the hospital and other sources.


Family members hummed songs to Yuan in his final hours, reporters at the site said.


Having spent over five decades in hybrid rice research, the academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering has helped China work a great wonder -- feeding nearly one-fifth of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's total land.


Born in Beijing in 1930, Yuan succeeded in cultivating the world's first high-yielding hybrid rice strain in 1973, which was later grown on a large scale in China and other countries to substantially raise output.


For the next four decades, he continued to research and upgrade hybrid rice, which has reached its third generation. Until early this year, he had been conducting research in a seed breeding base in Hainan.


In China, where rice is the staple for the majority of the 1.4 billion population, the accumulated planting area of hybrid rice has exceeded 16 million hectares, or 57 percent of the total planting area of rice, helping feed an extra 80 million people a year.



Its growth area overseas has reached 8 million hectares.


Yuan once said he had two dreams -- to "enjoy the cool under the rice crops taller than men" and that hybrid rice could be grown all over the world to help solve the global food scarcity.


On China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, the news has been viewed 950 million times so far, with netizens from all walks of life expressing grief at the death of a great man.


"Three times a day, when we enjoy the fragrance of rice, you will be dearly remembered," said a comment that has been liked more than 600,000 times.


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'Father of hybrid rice' Yuan Longping dies at 91



Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, renowned for developing the first hybrid rice strain that pulled countless people out of hunger, died of illness at 91 on Saturday.


The top rice scientist in China passed away in a hospital in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, at about 1 p.m., according to the hospital and other sources.


Family members hummed songs to Yuan in his final hours, reporters at the site said.


Having spent over five decades in hybrid rice research, the academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering has helped China work a great wonder -- feeding nearly one-fifth of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's total land.


Born in Beijing in 1930, Yuan succeeded in cultivating the world's first high-yielding hybrid rice strain in 1973, which was later grown on a large scale in China and other countries to substantially raise output.


For the next four decades, he continued to research and upgrade hybrid rice, which has reached its third generation. Until early this year, he had been conducting research in a seed breeding base in Hainan.


In China, where rice is the staple for the majority of the 1.4 billion population, the accumulated planting area of hybrid rice has exceeded 16 million hectares, or 57 percent of the total planting area of rice, helping feed an extra 80 million people a year.



Its growth area overseas has reached 8 million hectares.


Yuan once said he had two dreams -- to "enjoy the cool under the rice crops taller than men" and that hybrid rice could be grown all over the world to help solve the global food scarcity.


On China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, the news has been viewed 950 million times so far, with netizens from all walks of life expressing grief at the death of a great man.


"Three times a day, when we enjoy the fragrance of rice, you will be dearly remembered," said a comment that has been liked more than 600,000 times.


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