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China just invented a rice that can grow in salt water and could feed millions


Scientists in China have managed to grow a yield of unique rice that could potentially feed over 200 million people.

The research was conducted at the Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Centre in Qingdao, Shandong, where 6.5 to 9.3 tonnes of the food was grown in saltwater.

These results are better than expected as scientist initially only hoped to produce around 4.5 tonnes of the rice per hectare.

The rice, which has been named "Yuan Mi," was grown using seawater from The Yellow Sea, in north east China. This water was diluted and pumped into paddy's on a beach, rather than a field.

China has around one million square kilometres of waste land that is high in salinity and alkalinity levels.

This breakthrough means the country could potentially use this waste land and produce 50 million tonnes of rice - which could feed 200 million people.

That stat comes from Yuan Longping, an Agricultural scientist who has earned the nickname "China's father of hybrid rice."

He believes that if a tenth of the areas with a similar type of soil were planted with this type of rice then China could increase its rice production by 20 per cent.

It even tastes good!

Ning Meng was presented with a bag of "Yuan Mi" by her boyfriend and told South China Morning Post:

I could tell one grain from the other in my mouth. My boyfriend said it was like the braised rice he had back in his village. It is very good."

The rice could be rich in calcium and other micronutrients, which are common in saline water.

While the salt within its makeup could also indicate an ability to propel pathogenic bacteria.

This means sea water rice would be less exposed to bugs which in turn would discourage farmers from using pesticides.

There is a catch though. "Yuan Mi" comes with the hefty price tag of 50 yuan (£5.72) per kg, which is eight times the cost of regular rice and is sold in packs weighing 1kg, 2kg, 5kg and 10kg.

That hasn't completely deterred shoppers though as nearly 1,000 people ordered the rice just last month, with six tonnes being sold in August.

A sales manager from Yuan Ce, a startup working closely with Longping's team said:

"Our sales revenue target is 10 million yuan by the end of this year."