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Salt-resistant rice shows promise for turning Middle East deserts into productive paddies

Chinese scientists have successfully grown and harvested rice in the deserts of Dubai after developing a strain that allows the crop to grow in saltwater.

A team of scientists, led by China’s “father of hybrid rice” Yuan Longping, has already started growing the crop in diluted sea-water at home and is now bringing the technique to the Middle East, where fresh water is too precious to use for growing water-intensive crops.

[The] rice harvest, which had been planted in January on the outskirts of the city, far exceeded scientists’ expectations, according to a report by the state news agency Xinhua.

The high yield reported – 7,500kg per hectare compared with the global average of 3,000kg per hectare – has encouraged scientists to expand the project.

They now plan to set up a 100-hectare experimental farm later this year, put it into regular use next year and then start expanding after 2020.

Eventually, the report said, the goal is to cover around 10 per cent of the United Arab Emirates, which has a total area of 83,600 sq km (32,278 sq miles), with paddy fields – although details as to how this will be achieved have yet to be disclosed.

Read full, original post: Coming to a plate near you soon? Rice grown by Chinese scientists using seawater in Dubai’s deserts

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