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Hainan center to boost seed industry research

Zhao Yimeng
Updated: Jul 05,2021 07:18 AM    China Daily

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Nanfan Breeding Research Center, established recently in Sanya, Hainan province, will conduct research on the protection and utilization of seed germ plasm resources, molecular design and variety cultivation.

Tang Huajun, the academy's president, said the new center, at the 18,000-hectare Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base in the Yazhou Bay area, will resolve key technical problems in the seed industry. It is the highest-level institute at the Nanfan base.

"The center aims to transfer the research pattern from fighting alone to working together, from fields to laboratories, and from seasonal experiments to round-the-clock study," Tang, also a Chinese Academy of Engineering academician, said at the inauguration ceremony for the new center in May.

CAAS will operate the center jointly with its Nanfan Institute, which was registered in the Sanya Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City in October 2019 to boost innovation in the seed industry and ensure national food security. Since the institute was registered, projects for establishing national seed innovation labs and high-level biosafety labs have been authorized by the provincial government.

A total of 9.86 million yuan ($1.53 million) has been invested in six research projects at the center, which are being worked on by 88 experts. The first batch of 26 postgraduate students will be enrolled in September this year, the academy said.

The Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base, dubbed China's Silicon Valley of agriculture, has created more than 70 percent of the new crop varieties in the country, according to the provincial government.

Tang said China should build the base into an international center for the seed industry, adding that it is also expected to become a center for seed theory, breeding technology, seed products and international cooperation.

Nanfan-seed breeding in South China-started in the 1950s as agricultural scientists came to Hainan from September to May to conduct breeding-related activities. Shortening the breeding cycle by half or more, Nanfan can accelerate the process and greatly improve the adaptability of varieties.

The base takes advantage of the tropical climate and biological resources in Hainan and has attracted 8,000 scientists and workers from 700 research institutions and universities over the years, including the late Yuan Longping, the father of hybrid rice.

CAAS has 11 institutions and bases at the Nanfan base, covering an area of 133 hectares. More than 80 percent of the academy's crop varieties were bred at facilities in the Nanfan breeding base, including a wild cotton germ plasm resource nursery and a trial field for crop sciences.

The No 1 central document this year stressed that the country will advance the development of the Nanfan base and work on subsidizing policies for supporting the research and development of major varieties.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian visited his ministry's crop sciences institute at the Nanfan base in May and inspected wild rice germ plasm resources, according to the ministry.

China should keep strengthening the protection and utilization of agricultural germ plasm resources and cultivating advanced varieties, Tang said during the trip.

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