(Yicai Global) June 14 -- Alibaba Group Holding's rural e-commerce unit will partner with a research and development team led by Yuan Longping, known as China's father of hybrid rice, on a project to boost yields on saline lands in the country.
Rural Taobao will jointly conduct the saltwater rice project with Yuan's team from Yuanmi Agricultural Technology in Qingdao, a port city in eastern China's Shandong province, state-backed news site The Paper reported.
"Yuan has already increased the yield to 500 kilograms per mu (667 square meters), we must strive to obtain yields USD1000 per mu by using internet technology," said Alibaba Chief Executive Jack Ma.
China is home to some 1 million square-kilometers of saline land, accounting for some 10 percent of the country. Saltwater land is a major hindrance to rural poverty alleviation as it is associated with very low rice yields.
Born in 1930, Yuan is well-known in China for being developing the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s. He has more recently focused research on improving rice-growing capabilities in saltwater.
Rural Taobao, a platform to assist countryside entrepreneurs, will join Yuanmi's Chinese Rice Flavor and Quality Research Institute at China Academy of Sciences in Shanghai to explore future e-commerce opportunities for the country's less well-off communities.
Yuan announced this month that a roadmap for research into hybrid saltwater rice technology has been completed, and full-scale trials will be carried out in six provinces across the country to test anti-saline hybrid saltwater rice varieties. Yuanmi aims to roll-out large-scale plantations nationwide by 2020.
The company aims to 100 million mu of hybrid saltwater rice in the country in the next three years. Based on a minimum yield of 300 kg per mu of saline land, grain production can be increased by 30 billion kilograms per year, equivalent to the total annual grain output of Hunan province.
Editor: William Clegg