China's 'father of rice' throws doubt on Indian record holder

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 10:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 11:26am

A hybrid rice developer in China has called into question an Indian farmer's contention that he had harvested 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land, breaking a world record of 19.4 tonnes set by the Chinese scientist, reported the state-run China News Service on Thursday.

Sumant Kumar, a young farmer in the Nalanda district of India’s poor state Bihar, said last year that he achieved the record yields by using a method called System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Farmers using the herbicide-free method have reported higher yields with fewer seeds and less water and chemicals, according to a report by The Guardian.

World renowned agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, the previous record holder, bluntly called Kumar a “120 per cent fake”.

“I introduced the intensification method to China myself,” Yuan said. “It could increase yields by 10 to 15 per cent in low-yield fields, but it’s not possible for fields that are already producing relativaly high yields .”

“He [Kumar] said they had lots of rain and little sunshine last year, but high yields would be impossible without adequate sunshine,” a doubtful Yuan continued.

Yuan said judging by photos, the harvested plants appeared short and couldn’t possibly produce high yields.

“Good soil is the basis of high-yield rice,” Yuan said, adding that the soil where Kumar farmed was apparently inferior in quality.

Yuan also questioned the way India verified Kumar’s claim. “How could the Indian government have confirmed the number after the harvesting was already done?”

“If Kumar is able to repeat his success next year, I will be glad to examine the results in the field personally,” Yuan said.